Posts Tagged ‘Scotland’s Future’

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 »

What’s the Story of Scotland’s Future?

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, April 28th 2011

Like many people I have been watching and reflecting on the Scottish Parliament elections, and finding them in equal parts fascinating and frustrating.

In one way, these are elections of some theatre and drama, the Labour-SNP contest, the background of the cuts, what happens to the Tories and Lib Dems. And yet they are not really an example of an imaginative, emboldened, or even in parts honest politics.

Post-war Scotland: From ‘We Have a Dream’ to ‘We are Doomed’

There is so much unsaid and unstated. It begs: what is the contemporary story of modern Scotland? Once we had a powerful post-war story of Scotland. It went along the lines of ‘we have a dream’, a collective, mobilising story. It was filled with hope and a sense of progress, rationalism, planning, order and a belief that things could be solved. This is the world whose last gasp is generally seen as Cumbernauld New Town and the film ‘Gregory’s Girl’.

This was supplanted in the 1980s by the ‘we are all doomed’ strand of the Scottish character. At first this overtly negative message in the eloquent hands of writers such as William McIlvanney, Alasdair Gray and others, had a positive, unifying message seen in the former’s ‘Stands Scotland Where It Did?’ 1987 lecture. It was motivated by our collective need to huddle together against the elemental rainstorm of Thatcherism, which we saw as a real palpable threat to our very existence: to Scottish values and even Scotland as a nation. Read the rest of this entry »