Posts Tagged ‘Institutional Scotland’

The Crisis with Mainstream ‘Safety First’ Scotland

Gerry Hassan

Open Democracy, May 2nd 2011

The Scottish election approaches the finishing line; the polls have narrowed with the latest Scotland on Sunday/YouGov poll putting the SNP on 42% to Labour’s 34% on the constituency vote, a lead of 8%, and 35% to 33% respectively on the list vote, an SNP lead of 2% (1).

The campaign has shown thanks to three consecutive Sundays of YouGov polls, that the SNP’s campaign has worked with men and stalled with women; the Nationalists are 13% ahead on the constituency vote with men, 3% with women; while across the last three weeks men have swung 5.5% to the SNP from Labour, whereas women have shown no change at all.

In the last few weeks, it has caught the brief attention of the London media; the ‘New Statesman’s’ editorial fitted Scotland into how it affected Ed Miliband (2); ‘The Spectator’ had Gerald Warner talk from another planet about ‘Vichy Tories’ (3); ‘The Economist’ had a sober analysis with charts (4).

At the same time the mainstream Scottish media haven’t exactly been breathtaking. We had three TV leaders debates, which lacked any of the drama and occasion of the UK debates. We had ‘Newsnight Scotland’ managing its record number for a male-only panel: eight. The highlight of the media campaign was ‘The Sun’ coming out for Salmond and making itself the story. Read the rest of this entry »

What is Happening to Scottish Politics, its Future and Why It Matters?

Gerry Hassan

Open Democracy, April 19th 2011

Something interesting is happening in Scottish politics. The forthcoming elections were meant to see the return of Scottish Labour and normal service resumed. Instead, the SNP is pulling ahead, Labour is slipping back, confused and fighting an inept campaign, while in a sign of the times Murdoch’s ‘Scottish Sun’ has – unlike last time – just come out for the SNP, with a front page endorsement of Alex Salmond, ‘Play It Again, Salm’ (1).

This later story has got the Scottish political classes imagining what logic brought ‘The Sun’ to embrace the Scottish Nationalists, whether there is any kind of deal between Salmond and News International, or whether it is motivated in ‘a Tory, post-Tony Blair era’ by wanting to undermine Labour (2).

Yet, the general blether about the Scottish elections is that it is a bit dispiriting, lacking in choice, and emblematic of much that is wrong with Scotland: a kind of Thatcher meets Blair meets Matthew Taylor view of the world.

There is truth in this account, but it is also caricature and cliché, and ignores the ways in which this is a fascinating, as well as frustrating election, whose outcome matters deeply in Scotland and across the UK. Read the rest of this entry »

What is Scotland’s Big Story?

Gerry Hassan

The Scotsman, March 26th 2011

What is the Big Story of Scotland: as a nation, society, and politically?

Like William Hague’s mojo, we know we once had one and that we have now lost it. Scotland has had a number of big stories over the years: Empire Scotland, kirk Scotland, Red Clydeside, and the nationalist dream of independence. Now we mostly have muddle and confusion.

The next few weeks are going to see an awful lot of sound and fury. Politicians will make jabbing points not listening to each other; men will make pedantic points of difference and non-dialogue all over our media, and the occasional woman will get a word in!

What this will amount to is incrementalism taken to the levels of a dogma, a world of conservatism, shorn of vision and inspiration and a risk averse politics. It is a Scotland we all know and inhabit and are in some senses responsible for letting happen. Read the rest of this entry »

Whatever happened to Scotland’s Salon Society?

Gerry Hassan

The Scotsman, February 5th 2011

One of the early hopes of the Scottish Parliament and the era of ‘new politics’ was that Scotland would awaken to a new age of engagement which would produce a more informed, inclusive politics.

A lot of this was wish-fulfilment; certainly much of the talk of ‘new politics’ and an emboldened civil society was just that. Yet at the same time this feeling tapped a sense that Scotland could sustain a kind of salon society – a modern day harking back to the Enlightenment vision of Edinburgh.

The reality of contemporary Scotland has turned out very different – a public realm and public sphere – in the media, civic and public life which has not exactly flourished with debate and diversity. Read the rest of this entry »