Posts Tagged ‘Europe’

Scotland International: A Letter from Istanbul

Gerry Hassan

The Scotsman, January 25th 2014

Europe from its edges, corners and fuzzy borderlands looks and feels rather different than it does from elsewhere.

Here in Istanbul, the largest city in Turkey, Scotland’s debate and the UK’s never-ending turmoil with regard to its relationship with Europe, seems far removed.

Yet what is striking is that there are commonalities between these examples as I contemplate life looking at the shores of the Bosphorus – that historic meeting and clashing point of cultures, and the crossroads between Europe and Asia.

Scotland’s deliberations are about some fundamentals which would resonate in the bazaars of Istanbul: namely, geo-political possibilities. Or to put it less grandiosely, about how we want to position ourselves in the world, and who we want to ally ourselves with, aspire to be and identify with. Read the rest of this entry »

Where is the United Kingdom going in relation to Europe and the world?

Gerry Hassan

The Scotsman, December 21st 2013

The United Kingdom is on the move. Firstly, in how it sees itself in relation to Europe, and secondly, in how it understands and places itself in the world.

Take Europe. There is now a rising Euro-scepticism which is very different and more thoughtful, compared to ‘the swivel-eyed loons’ of Tory leadership nightmares, or the retired Colonel Blimp image of Ukip’s unqualified anti-Europeanism.

This more nuanced Euro-scepticism is seen in the ‘Fresh Start’ group of Tory parliamentarians, chaired by Andrea Leadsom, and in the likes of Douglas Carswell, MP and Daniel Hannan, MEP.

Just over a week ago a milestone event took place in London under the auspices of the think tank, ‘Open Europe’. This involved wargaming the scenarios of possible UK detachment and withdrawal from the European Union. Read the rest of this entry »

Nigel Farage, the Scottish Debate and the Future of Europe

Gerry Hassan

Open Democracy, May 19th 2013

This is an age of uncertainty, crisis and doubt. The UK is experiencing multiple crises: political, constitutional and economic, of the UK in Europe and of Europe itself as an idea and project. And underneath all of this is a deep-seated Western fear, of loss of confidence in Western modernity and anxiety about the future.

The lack of sureness now being displayed in Britain’s political elites is one manifestation, as is the rise of Nigel Farage’s UKIP. The Westminster village has been talking of little else since UKIP burst through in the English local elections winning 23% of the vote, humiliating the mainstream parties.

Cut then this week to the beautiful setting of Edinburgh’s High Street, its castle at one end, Holyrood Palace at the other, tartan tourist tat in between. This was the improbable setting for Nigel Farage’s northern sojourn and face off with Radical Independence supporters.

Insults flew back and forth; the protestors called Farage ‘racist scum’; he retorted by calling them ‘fascist scum’ and then attempted to taint the broad church of Scottish nationalism and the SNP by claiming the former had a ‘fascist side’; the next day in a combative interview on ‘BBC Radio Scotland’ Farage accused the interviewer David Miller of the same ‘hatred’ as the protestors and hung up (1). Read the rest of this entry »

What Kind of European and British Union is Emerging?

Gerry Hassan

The Scotsman, May 18th 2013

Prague Spring. Two words which evoke a certain feeling, the hopes of a generation, European idealism and the past.

Today Europe could not be in a more different place and frame of mind, the brief optimism of 1968 and 1989 long gone.

All across the continent, European political, elite and civic conversations are underway about ‘whither Europe?’ and ‘what future for the eurozone?’

In the last two weeks I have participated in two of these, attending the Prague Press Forum and before that speaking to ministers, officials and advisers of the Irish Government in Dublin.

Europe is worried about itself, its future, the European project and Britain – with in many places Euro-realism falling over into a deep-seated pessimism. German broadcaster, Jurgen Kronig, believes part of the problem is the ambiguous nature of German leadership. Read the rest of this entry »

The Framing of the Scottish Independence Debate: A Tale of Two Referenda

Gerry Hassan

Bella Caledonia, May 15th 2013

Two independence campaigns are now running in the UK: one on Scottish independence; the other which has become more public in the last week, on the UK’s possible exit from the European Union. Strangely they operate in near complete isolation of each other, with the Euro referendum being talked about as if we still lived in the high days of untrammelled Westminster parliamentary sovereignty.

In the last week, the front page of the Scottish edition of The Times reported a fall in support for Scottish independence of 3% as, ‘’Yes’ vote hits trouble as support crumbles’ (May 9th 2013). The same week it began its campaign for the UK to embark on EU withdrawal, lining up a chorus line of Tory grandees to declare their support for exit; successive front pages declared, ‘Lawson: It’s time to quit EU’ (May 7th 2013) and ‘Voters tell Cameron to cut Europe down to size’ (May 8th 2013); and were followed by Michael Portillo coming out of support of withdrawal, ‘We don’t share Europe’s vision. So I want out’ (May 9th 2013). The front page of the Scottish edition on the day of the Lawson announcement also included a headline stating, ‘Independent Scotland may struggle to keep lights on’ (May 7th 2013).

One has the language of ‘separatism’, ‘separation’ and is filled with risk and negativity; the other the language of ‘a new relationship’, ‘renegotiation’ and greater choice and flexibility; the first about Scottish independence, the second British withdrawal from the EU. When I asked Angus Macleod, editor of The Times Scottish edition why he used pejorative language on Scotland in one of the pieces cited above he answered, ‘Independence is in in the intro and elsewhere. Separation is used for variety. It’s called journalism’ (twitter, May 9th 2013). Read the rest of this entry »