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Posts Tagged ‘Scotland’

Despite Trump and Brexit there are still Reasons to be Cheerful

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, January 26th 2017

A haunting refrain echoes around the globe. The world, many emphatically say, has gone to pot what with Trump, Brexit, terrorism, ISIS, the march of the far right, fake news, alternative facts and more.

This miserablist take on modern times has a familiar refrain in Britain. It states that the country has gone in entirely the wrong direction these last 30 to 40 years. ‘Margaret Thatcher / poll tax / Tony Blair / Iraq war’ has become a spellbinding, intoxicating description of recent British history for many.

These appear dark times. There are numerous threats and challenges. When the British public were asked in 2015 if the world was getting better or worse, 71% answered worse, a mere 5% better, with 18% saying it hasn’t changed. Similar findings can be found in the US and most Western countries.

Then there is the Trump phenomenon that isn’t going well. However, it isn’t clear how much of a political black swan he is, compared to a potential harbinger of a dystopian future. But even in the week after the ascendancy of Trump to the US Presidency, everything isn’t falling apart whether globally or in the UK. Read the rest of this entry »

Was 1966 the last great British sporting moment? Andy Murray apart?

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, June 12th 2016

‘They think it’s all over. It is now.’ These are some of the most famous words ever in the history of British sporting commentary.

The fiftieth anniversary of 1966 is upon us. When England beat West Germany 4-2 at Wembley and became football World Cup champions. It is a long time ago, but as the European Championships kick off, with everyone taking part from the UK bar Scotland, the memories and myths of that triumph still linger.

1966 is obviously for English fans a time to savour and celebrate. It has always been much more complex for Scottish fans, and seen as a cross that has to be borne for many. One retort over the years used to be: ‘they never stop going on about it’, but that has become less true with the passing of the years.

Go back to the summer of 1966. In many respects it was then a very British triumph. The mascot of the games was British, not English. The union flag flew at games, not the St. George’s Cross. Read the rest of this entry »

A Letter to the Editor of ‘The Economist’ on Scotland and Scottish Independence

Gerry Hassan

June 4th 2015

Dear Zanny,

I am a long-term reader and admirer of ‘The Economist’.

Even when I disagree with the magazine’s position I know that I can trust it to aid myself learning and becoming more knowledgeable on an issue.

This is true across the globe, and subject matters, with one consistent exception: the subject of Scottish independence.

I am not talking about ‘The Economist’s’ anti-independence stance, which you are perfectly entitled to take. Nor would I wish to dwell on the appropriateness or not of the infamous ‘Skintland’ cover. Instead, I am talking about something much more embedded: the language and terminology ‘The Economist’ consistently uses to frame this issue. Read the rest of this entry »

Glasgow is not Scotland so let’s stop pretending it is

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, February 10th 2015

Someone observing Scotland from afar could easily fall under the apprehension that all there is to the nation is Glasgow.

A Martian, or alien from another world, who had the misfortune to only follow and comprehend our country through the transmissions of BBC Reporting Scotland or STV News at Six would think that we were a strange land. They would imagine that all there was to this country was a few streets, only inhabited by men, where football and crime were the only topics of conversation and that all of this was located in Glasgow.

Glasgow is a great city. It thinks of itself, whatever its population decline, as a big city, and as a place of attitude, imagination and swagger. And one which like all big cities sees itself as bigger than it actually is, and bigger than the nation it sits in. This is explicable, for it is the attitude of Big Cities the world over, from New York to Berlin to Moscow: we even could call it the Manhattan Syndrome. Read the rest of this entry »

Lessons from Anzio: Scots do not need to cling to the wreckage of Britain

Gerry Hassan

The Scotsman, February 2nd 2013

Today is the 70th anniversary of the final surrender of the last German forces at Stalingrad, the battle which militarily and psychologically dealt an irreversible blow to Hitler’s plans for world domination.

Last week I was in Rome on holiday and went to commemorate the 69th anniversary of the Anglo-American landings at Anzio, just south of the capital, the summation of which occurred a year and a half after Stalingrad.

This was the week of Cameron’s big European intervention, and I experienced the sensation of being on the European continent and feeling the UK geo-politically move further away from Europe or more accurately the European project.

Many years ago Jonathan Raban had a similar experience when he decided to sail round the coast of Britain and the Falklands War erupted. As he reflected in his subsequent book, ‘Coasting’, he felt that the UK had slipped its moorings and set sail as a nation for the South Atlantic. Read the rest of this entry »

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