Posts Tagged ‘Scotland’s Future’

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 »

What is Scotland’s Big Story?

Gerry Hassan

The Scotsman, March 26th 2011

What is the Big Story of Scotland: as a nation, society, and politically?

Like William Hague’s mojo, we know we once had one and that we have now lost it. Scotland has had a number of big stories over the years: Empire Scotland, kirk Scotland, Red Clydeside, and the nationalist dream of independence. Now we mostly have muddle and confusion.

The next few weeks are going to see an awful lot of sound and fury. Politicians will make jabbing points not listening to each other; men will make pedantic points of difference and non-dialogue all over our media, and the occasional woman will get a word in!

What this will amount to is incrementalism taken to the levels of a dogma, a world of conservatism, shorn of vision and inspiration and a risk averse politics. It is a Scotland we all know and inhabit and are in some senses responsible for letting happen. Read the rest of this entry »