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Posts Tagged ‘Neo-Liberalism’

What part of Britain is not for sale?

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, April 3rd 2016

This week the future of the steel industry moved centrestage, Scottish parties have finally started talking tax, and the Tories version of what they call a ‘national living wage’ came into force.

British steel used to lead the world. In 1875 it accounted for 40% of world production.  The industry employed 320,000 people in 1971, which has fallen to 24,000 now. It produced 24 million tonnes in 1967, down to 12 million tonnes today.

Tata Steel – an Indian company based in Mumbai who bought Corus in 2007, an amalgamation of British Steel and a Dutch firm – employ 15,000 of the current 24,000 jobs in the UK industry.

The world has a huge steel surplus – the product of Chinese industrialisation, low costs and state subsidies. The US Government has put up protective trade barriers to protect domestic steel from Chinese competition. But the EU, egged on by the UK, has argued against any such action.

This is about many things – high quality, high skilled jobs; good apprenticeships; the future of manufacturing; whether the UK has any kind of industrial policy and what role, if any, government has beyond rhetoric and retraining. Read the rest of this entry »

The Language and Philosophy of Our Politics is the Problem

Gerry Hassan

The Scotsman, September 8th 2012

The British party conference season just began this week with the gathering of the Greens (of England and Wales) with their new leader, Natalie Bennett.

This has become increasingly not just an age of economic crisis, but one of how politics is done and articulated across the West, from Scotland and the UK to the wider world.

People are anxious, concerned, worried about money, bills, household debts, the future of their children and grandchildren and more. They crucially in large numbers don’t see politics as offering adequate explanations.

It is even more serious than that. The language of politics increasingly throws up a set of impenetrable barriers between politicians and public. Politicians increasingly struggle to be heard or comprehended across the noise and diversions of society. Voter concerns battle to find recognition beyond the token engagement of the focus group and opinion poll. Read the rest of this entry »

The New Flat Earthers: Barbarism Begins at Home

Gerry Hassan

The Scotsman, May 26th 2012

Once upon a time the world was filled with earnest left-wing revolutionaries confident that they were the future.

They inhabited places like the Sorbonne, Berkeley and LSE campuses and thought they spoke for all humanity leading to a whole generation being caricatured as ‘Private Eye’ character ‘Dave Spart’, ‘television sit-com Citizen Smith’ and the propensity for endless ideological schisms seen in Monty Python’s ‘Life of Brian’.

All these stereotypes are now many decades old but they still carry some currency because they hit a truth; most left-wingers if they are honest will recognise their inner ‘Dave Spart’.

This is despite the fact that the left has been in retreat for the last 30 years, and that the equivalent Dave Sparts of today are the dogmatic, fanatical, humourless zealots of the free market. It is they who have tried to change human beings, behaviour and relationships to suit their simplistic theories. Read the rest of this entry »

The Beginnings of an Alternative Scotland

Gerry Hassan

The Scotsman, April 28th 2012

What a week it has been – Murdoch, Trump, Rangers FC and of course the economy going into double dip recession.

It is all-reminiscent of that last period of acute crisis, a failing, nervous political class and economic instability: the 1970s amplified by Dominic Sandbrook’s excellent current TV series on the decade.

Scottish debate on the economy has for many years been shaped by two contradictory strands. The first has been the power of conventional economics, concerns over our relative economic growth rate compared to the rest of the UK, and the desire to pursue ‘faster, smarter growth’. This has been the policy of all Scottish administrations post-devolution and all four mainstream political parties.

The second has been an aspiration to do economics differently from Anglo-American capitalism and the British economy and state. This has drawn on critiques of economic growth, sustainability and green concerns, and debates around health and well-being. Read the rest of this entry »

After Rage against the Machine: The Search for an Alternative

Gerry Hassan

The Scotsman, July 2nd 2011

The return of mass public sector strikes; British living standards experiencing their biggest fall since 1977; the escalating Greek debt crisis; the shaky future of the eurozone and European project in doubt.

These are just some of the headlines this week. All across the West governments are cutting public spending, services and benefits, and privatising and marketising what were once seen as public goods.

Many governments are enduring significant unpopularity and even questions of legitimacy. They face publics uneasy, unsure and resistant to what they are doing.

We are in crisis, but what kind of crisis is it? Are the state, public spending and entitlements out of control? Or is it all the fault of bankers and finance capitalism, the modern equivalent of Harold Wilson’s ‘gnomes of Zurich’? 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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