Posts Tagged ‘Scottish Independence’

‘Arise Now and Be a Nation Again’: The neverending story of Scotland’s history

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, March 23rd 2016

Tom Devine has been a huge intellectual influence in Scotland in recent decades, having made major and thoughtful contributions to many important historical and contemporary debates.

His latest work, ‘Independence or Union: Scotland’s Past and Scotland’s Present’ is part a summary of his previous research, ‘The Scottish Nation’ and his work on Scotland’s Empire, seen through the prism of Scotland’s place and influence in the union.

This descriptive, wide-ranging book covers not only over 300 years of Scottish history, but huge changes, the rise and fall of ideas and powerful forces, along with this nation’s place in a wider context: most critically, its relationship with England, but also with its European neighbours, and Empire and Commonwealth. Devine, for much of this story has a real way of telling this, while giving a place for people, traditions and the many complexities involved.

Devine tells the story well of the Scotland pre and post-union, and the difficult dilemmas and competing pressures that parliamentarians and leaders had to weight up. There is a sense of balance and geo-political awareness for the Scotland of immediately before and the years after 1707, and the issues of Scottish autonomy in the union, London’s view of Scotland, the Scottish need for access to greater trade opportunities, the running sore of taxes and duties and the contradictory relationship between Jacobinism and the union alongside the role of Presbyterianism, which puts the 1715 and 1745 risings in proper context. Read the rest of this entry »

There is a Light That Never Goes Out: Ian Bell, Willie McIlvanney and the Power of the Word

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, January 6th 2016

Scotland values words. It has always had a place in its heart for wordsmiths and for those who powerfully combine language with a sense of some higher calling – from religion, to morality, to various causes for a better world.

In the weeks running up to Christmas, within a matter of days of each other, we lost two of our most celebrated public figures who expertly used words – William McIlvanney and Ian Bell.

Sometimes, words – written or spoken – just don’t convey the full feeling of something. That’s true of so much, but with McIlvanney and Bell there is a sense in different, but complimentary ways, that they contributed significantly to how Scotland saw itself in recent decades and how it has changed, and were influencers and interpreters in the work in progress that is modern Scotland. Read the rest of this entry »

If Independence is a State of Mind then we have to fundamentally change

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, November 8th 2015

Years ago the dream was that the Scottish Parliament would usher in a new politics.

It was going to be different from adversarial Westminster – consensual, caring, thoughtful, leading to better debates and laws.

Much of this was wish-fulfillment. There has always been mutual scorn between Labour and SNP – aided by the fetishisation of tiny differences, given they agree on so much. But in recent years all of this seems to have got worse. And the last week in particular, was a new low.

In the previous seven days, Labour and SNP crossed swords on the replacement of the UK nuclear ‘deterrent’ Trident. Scottish Labour debated the issue at their conference for the first time since 1998 and came to the same result – opposing nuclear weapons and voting for disarmament. Read the rest of this entry »

‘Nationalism alone is not enough’ as the SNP finally shows it is mortal

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, October 4th 2015

After eight years of defying the laws of political gravity, the normal rules of politics are back. The SNP are, like everyone else, mortal.

Michelle Thomson, newly elected SNP MP for Edinburgh West, has built a £1.7m property portfolio with her husband through buying properties at knock down prices from vulnerable people. Her solicitor, Christopher Hales, who undertook the conveyancing work on 13 properties was struck off last year by the Scottish Solicitors’ Discipline Tribunal.

Whatever the legality of these purchases, the ethics and morality aren’t good. This is self-interested, self-aggrandising behaviour ‘preying’ on the needy and weak. Embarrassingly, Thomson was head of pro-independence SNP-front Business for Scotland, and seen as a SNP high-flyer in the referendum. Numerous SNP senior figures praised her, from John Swinney to Fiona Hyslop, with even Jim Sillars lauding her ‘commitment to social justice’. Read the rest of this entry »

 ‘The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil’ Still Matters

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, September 27th 2015

One year after the referendum has seen a golden summer and autumn of Scottish theatre. Adaptions of Alasdair Gray’s ‘Lanark’ at the Citizens’ Theatre, and Alan Warner’s ‘The Sopranos’ at the Traverse, along with John McGrath’s ‘The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil’ at Dundee Rep.

These are all iconic, evocative plays that tell much about the Scotland in which the original texts were written, the times in which they are set, as well as the present day.  ‘Lanark’ addresses the scale of economic, social and psychological change in post-war Glasgow and the West of Scotland; ‘The Sopranos’ (adapted as ‘Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour’) deals with youthful rebellion and expression, but it is ‘The Cheviot’ which attempts the most over-arching account of Scotland through the centuries to modern times.

Written by John McGrath, first premiered by his theatre company 7:84 in Aberdeen in 1973 and then shown as a BBC ‘Play for Today’ in 1974, it has now returned for the first time in over twenty years, adapted by Joe Douglas and Dundee Rep Ensemble. Read the rest of this entry »

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