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Posts Tagged ‘Jeremy Corbyn’

Is Scotland really a social democratic country?

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, October 18th 2017

At last week’s SNP conference in the middle of her keynote speech, Nicola Sturgeon asked: ‘What kind of country do we want to be?’ She wasn’t expecting an answer, and seemed surprised when a member of the party faithful shouted out ‘an independent one.’

Behind Sturgeon’s non-question is the belief in Scottish difference, the efficacy of our values, and the link of both of these to the idea of Scotland as a social democratic country. Thus, around the conference chatter and commentary, Lesley Riddoch on Sky News spoke of ‘a social democratic consensus’ in Scotland, while Iain Macwhirter on the BBC talked of ‘a social democratic politics.’

Scotland as a land of social democracy has become the lexicon of our politics. It has accelerated under devolution, contributing to the mood music of the political environment and institutions. This has become even more pronounced under SNP rule, for obvious reasons, as the difference between Scotland and England politically is emphasised – Scotland social democratic good; England neo-liberal bad. Read the rest of this entry »

Politics is becoming a battle of ideas again, but the Tories look a spent force

Gerry Hassan

The Herald, October 4th 2017

The Conservative Party love to tell themselves they are one of the most successful parties electorally in the Western world. Chancellor Philip Hammond was giving Tories this reassuring message on Monday.

But this conference does not feel like that of a party in good health, spirits or much energy. Instead, despite being in government, it feels like a party lost and almost pre-preparing for opposition.

There is the leadership issue. Theresa May’s lost majority saw her stitch-up a deal with the Democratic Unionists – with them not having to power share in Northern Ireland, because they can do so with the Tories. Why does either need to bother with democracy, when they can short circuit the verdict of voters? Read the rest of this entry »

Labour could be the future but is feeling a bit too self-satisfied with itself

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, September 26th 2017

This week the Labour Party Conference gathered in Brighton. It hasn’t been in such good spirits for many a year – with the highest membership of any party in Europe, and the biggest increase in its vote in a UK general election since 1945.

The spirit in many respects is a little too upbeat. Corbyn’s Labour did not actually win the June election, despite Theresa May’s campaign being the most inept by a major party in living memory. There is too much backslapping, feeling smug and self-congratulatory, and the conference opened to delegates singing the now mandatory semi-football chant of ‘Oh, Jeremy Corbyn’. Leadership cults and worship are never advisable: imagine the Nats doing this under Salmond or Sturgeon at her peak, or the Tories under the imperial reign of Thatcher?

Labour has earned the right to be taken seriously again. There is a good chance it will form the next UK Government. But it does need a big further shift to do so – needing 64 seats for a bare majority and cannot forever duck and dive on Brexit. The biggest UK political issue in decades hasn’t even been properly debated at conference, as the Eurosceptic leadership of Corbyn and McDonnell want to square their opinions with a hugely pro-EU membership and concentrate on Tory divisions. This isn’t sustainable or serious politics at such a time of crisis. Read the rest of this entry »

Holyrood has given Scotland independence of the mind

Gerry Hassan

The Guardian, September 11th 2017

Twenty years ago today Scotland voted 3:1 for the establishment of a Scottish Parliament. It was clear the old Westminster system of governing Scotland was discredited. Voters recognised it was undemocratic, and produced bad politics and legislation. The case for change had become a consensus – ‘the settled will’ in John Smith’s description – that the referendum merely and validated.

Twenty years later devolution has been a success. There are no serious calls for the Scottish Parliament to be abolished or for a return of direct rule from Westminster. Ruth Davidson and the Tories long ago made their peace. The late Tam Dalyell was the last expression of such a politics.

The Scottish public now views the Scottish Parliament, rather than Westminster, as the most important political institution. Irrespective of formal independence, Scotland already has an informal independence of the mind in how it talks, thinks and acts. Read the rest of this entry »

Scottish Labour after Dugdale and what comes next?

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, August 30th 2017

Scottish Labour used to offer certainty. It had its differences and divisions, but it was in the business of running Scotland, dominating local government and town halls, and was concerned with administration, holding office and doing practical things.

That seems a long time ago. Where did it all go wrong for Scottish Labour? The resignation of Kezia Dugdale means the party has gone through a staggering eight leaders in eighteen years, and will by the end of this year have a ninth.

Scottish Labour’s neverending crisis continues when things are looking up for the British party. Corbyn’s June election recovery made all of this more likely as Dugdale was on record as not supporting Corbyn in both his victorious leadership contests and many of Corbyn’s supporters haven’t forgotten or forgiven this.

British Labour are now making the political weather. The June election and rise in the party’s vote and seats, depriving the Tories of their majority and confidence, has given Corbyn a sense of belief. It has been an amazing transformation, for pre-June Corbyn was widely treated by the media with scorn and condescension. Suddenly such people are having to take him and the prospect of a Labour Government seriously. Read the rest of this entry »

Gerry Hassan is a writer, commentator and thinker about Scotland, the UK, politics and ideas. more >
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