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Posts Tagged ‘Scottish Establishment’

Shining a Spotlight on Power in the Darkness in Scotland

Gerry Hassan

Bella Caledonia, April 29th 2016

A few months ago I watched the award-winning film ‘Spotlight’ – the story of the ‘Boston Globe’s’ investigative unit of the same name that examined allegations of Catholic Church sexual abuse.

Although set in Boston in 2001 the film has a linear story – and old-fashioned feel. This is reinforced by its serious subject matter and straightforward approach that helped it win several Oscars this year, including for best film.

I couldn’t help but be moved by the immediate story the film conveyed, and also to think of its relevance to Scotland. Where have been our ‘Spotlights’ ? Who has systematically shone light on abuses of power, and do most of us even care that most power is exercising in the dark – far from scrutiny?

These thoughts returned when I attended The Ferret’s first ever conference in Glasgow last weekend. Set up by Peter Geoghegan, Rob Edwards, Rachel Hamada and Billy Briggs this is Scotland’s first on-line investigative journalist resource. It has already in a few months broken several stories – including Police in Scotland violating secrecy laws with CCTV, and SNP links to a fracking company – and been nominated for UK media awards. Read the rest of this entry »

The UK has failed but we have to address Scottish shortcomings

Gerry Hassan

Newsnet Scotland, April 26th 2014

The Scottish independence debate is about many things. It is about the state of modern Scotland and its different possible futures. But it is also about the condition of the UK, its multiple crises and how these impact north of the border.

The state of the United Kingdom is one of the main drivers of the Scottish debate. It has become an accepted fact that the UK is one of the most unequal countries in the developed world, ranked fourth in a study by Prof. Danny Dorling of Oxford University. London is, on some indicators, the most unequal city in the entire developed world.

The City of London and London as a world city ‘crowd out’ the rest of the UK: the latter accounting for 12% of UK population and 22% of GDP. The UK has become disfigured by uneven economic development on a scale unseen in the rest of Western Europe. Then there is the level of debt which the UK has counting personal, corporate and state debts which has fallen from 502% in September 2012 to 471% at the end of 2013 according to McKinsey: the second highest of any major economy apart from Japan. Government debt, the part that obsesses Cameron and Osborne, represents just over one-sixth of all UK debt. Read the rest of this entry »

The Birth Pains of Scottish Democracy and the Anguish of ‘Posh Scotland’

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, February 26th 2014

Many strange things will be written about Scotland this year. Some will be uncomprehending, some inappropriate or wrong, with others likely to be malevolent and wishing to sew seeds of confusion or distrust.

One existing strand is the pain expressed by some English media voices. There is the liberal ‘Guardian’ reading classes, some of whom have just bothered in the last few weeks to look north from their cosmopolitan concerns and to plea, ‘don’t leave us alone with the wicked Tories’. Then there is the ‘Daily Telegraph’/’Daily Mail’ land of ill-concealed anger about ‘separatism’, derogatory comments about Alex Salmond, and a confusion over whether they really want Scotland to stay or go.

Sometimes interventions cannot be easily categorisable, or while coming from one particular perspective, give voice to a viewpoint which hasn’t been expressed or articulated in public. This was the case with Hugo Rifkind’s recent piece on ‘posh Scotland’ (his words and sentiment) in ‘The Spectator’ and its clarion call to awaken and ride to the defence of the union in crisis.

Rifkind’s ‘posh Scotland’ wasn’t a place for anyone with decent prospects; this wasn’t, as he made clear, anything to do with Ed Miliband’s struggling middle classes, or by implication, ‘the middlin’ folk’ of Scotland. Instead, this was about privilege, wealth and power: the people who run things, own large tracts of Scotland, are privately educated, and believe that the state, if it has to do anything, is there for poor people (and keeping those people a safe distance from them). Read the rest of this entry »

Scotland’s Historic Year and the Zeal of the Missionary Men

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, February 12th 2014

This is Scotland’s great date with destiny. The biggest moment in 300 years of history. So how are we doing versus the hype and expectation?

There is an echo chamber in large parts of public life which so far most of the Yes/No debate has amplified. There is the trench warfare of various tribal positions and the numerous one-way conversations with people talking past one another. And just as problematically, in some of the radical shades of opinion and institutional Scotland, there is a potent disconnect from the realities of everyday life, as the former invokes an ‘abstract’ vision, and the latter peddles its latest fads and buzzwords.

There is the reach of conservative Scotland which covers many opinions which would baulk at such a description. This entity can be described as the belief in the status quo of public life, our institutions, arrangements and values. It is comfortable with the current state of professional Scotland – whether it is in law, medicine and health – as well as across the public, private and voluntary sectors. It is firmly of the opinion that we have stopped the market vandals at the border (Tories, outsourcers, consultants); it doesn’t believe that such a thing as professional self-interest and producer capture exists, and has chosen to buy the self-validating stories these groups present about their version of ‘the good society’. Read the rest of this entry »

Michael Forbes, Donald Trump and the Unpredictable Scotland Emerging

Gerry Hassan

The Scotsman, December 1st 2012

The Scots have a strange and often perplexing relationship with those in authority and power.

Sometimes we damn them and at other times we choose to believe their official story. More often than we show a lack of curiosity in scrutinising and challenging authority. Instead, there is a deafening silence of the Scots across large acres of public life, in conferences, gatherings and fora which represent ‘civic Scotland’.

Michael Forbes has been a huge exception to this general rule. The Aberdeenshire farmer who stood up to Donald Trump and his Menie estate golf course development, along with a host of other local residents, on Thursday night won the Glenfiddich Spirit of Scotland ‘Top Scot’ award voted for by the public.

Michael and others stood up not just against Donald Trump, but the whole mass of the Scottish political and business establishment. The SNP, Labour, Conservatives, Lib Dems, Alex Salmond, Jack McConnell, CBI, Robert Gordon University and many more, all weighed in with their ‘Scotland open for business’ collective mantra as they palled up to Trump and his development. Read the rest of this entry »

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