Posts Tagged ‘Scotland’s Future’

Message to the Messengers: What do we do after Yes?

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Left Project, December 5th 2014

It is a frenetic, dynamic time to be living in Scotland – politically, culturally and in many other aspects of public life.

Nearly three months since the momentous indyref Scotland is still gripped by a sense of movement, possibilities and new openings – up to and beyond the 2015 and 2016 elections.

Yet at the same time in parts of the independence movement there are unrealistic expectations of political change, of belief that the union is finished, and that Scotland can embark on its destiny in the next couple of years.

Any radical politics has to have a sense of what is possible, to push it as far as it can, to understand timescales and how these dovetail with strategy. And critically it has to understand the political culture beyond its own boundaries – in the Scotland which voted No.

The independence referendum was a historic moment, an epic time in Scotland’s political evolution, and an awakening of the democratic impulse. Yet, it produced a comfortable victory for No and a defeat for Yes. For all the commentary that Yes won the campaign and that the idea of independence has been normalised, defeat has an upside: an opportunity and release which shouldn’t just be squandered. Read the rest of this entry »

What do we do we do about the United Kingdom? And Why Federalism isn’t the Answer

Gerry Hassan

Open Democracy, July 4th 2014

In the last few weeks political debate has become filled with talk of the possibility of a federal United Kingdom.

This has come not surprisingly exclusively from pro-union voices. There was Tory MSP Murdo Fraser’s recent thoughtful speech, David Torrance’s short book on British wide federalism, and even former Prime Minister Gordon Brown mulling over the subject.

Murdo Fraser in his Reform Scotland talk said that ‘federalism within the UK, if it were workable and could be achieved, is a solution which could unite both unionists and nationalists, and provide a secure framework for the future’. David Torrance in a ‘Herald’ piece after Fraser’s intervention, cited former Labour MP and academic David Marquand commenting, ‘Does the UK become a federal state, or does it break up?’. Even Gordon Brown has refound his sense of radical constitutionalism, contemplating a written constitution and federalism in all but name.

These developments should be applauded and welcomed as they are trying to deal with some of the challenges of the modern world and the UK, and show a degree of open-mindedness and people being prepared to reconsider previous positions. They should be taken seriously and examined, asking what issues and concerns are they addressing, what are they not addressing, and what are their over-riding motivations? Read the rest of this entry »

Creating a Space for a Different Scottish Future

Gerry Hassan

National Collective, March 7th 2013

Thinking, imagining and attempting to create the future, and embracing and encouraging change, comes naturally to human beings.

We do these things everyday in numerous ways throughout our lives, subconsciously and unconsciously, usually without reflection or realisation. Recognising that we do is one of the first steps in demystifying these terms, democratising them, and taking them back from the consultancy class and from managerial jargon.

When I first saw Say So Scotland’s initiative to develop a Citizens’ Assembly I was initially wary, thinking it was ‘civic Scotland’ out on maneouvres. This looked like a kite flying exercise, post-SCVO’s ‘The Future of Scotland’ – something which has up until now been of limited impact. This perception was strengthened by the fact that the event would take place at SCVO’s ‘The Gathering’, the umbrella for lots of voluntary organisations showcasing themselves each year.

It turned out to be exactly the opposite. It was a self-organised, people-created and run initiative, borne and situated in ‘unofficial Scotland’ and organised by a group of motivated individuals. Read the rest of this entry »

So who will speak out for a better Scotland?

Gerry Hassan

The Scotsman, February 4th 2012

Human beings have a need to associate, to feel they belong and to be part of wider groupings.

We all recognise this, but we also know some of the limits: the power and negativity of being in a gang, tribe or group, of including and excluding.

In my life many things have defined how I see myself and how I interpret the world: various values, philosophies, labels and outlooks, from politics to culture to of course, football.

I used to define myself as a left-winger and as part of the universalist left project which sought to bring emancipation across the globe. I was also a member of the British left and Scottish left. Read the rest of this entry »

Scotland’s Future Story of Hope: How we Defeat the Forces of Pessimism

Gerry Hassan

Bella Caledonia, April 28th 2011

Imagine this. If you were studying Scotland from a far off world, say Venus or Mars, what kind of impression would you get? If you were looking and listening to our TV and radio you would find a very peculiar place.

It would be one that lived on or off one street: Byres Road, Glasgow; it would be nearly entirely male, with very few women; and the men would be often boorish, angry and shouting perhaps because of this; and it would be a place obsessed by football rather than the substantive issues which face society.

The Venusian or Martian observer would rightly think this a strange, perplexing land. The serious point from this is the shrunken, atrophied state of what passes for the Scottish public realm in our mainstream media, politics and society is that it restricts and limits our potential for public conversation, and makes it more possible for the established order to maintain its dominance.

Scottish public life is still significantly shaped by black and white thinking, by a psychology and politics of binary opposites, ‘them’ and ‘us’ posing people you disagree with as ‘other’, and a profound lack of empathy. These views are held across the political spectrum, on what remains of the left, right, unionism, nationalism, in our football, culture and elsewhere. Read the rest of this entry »