Posts Tagged ‘Scottish Independence’

Flags and Stramashs in Scotland’s Summer of Independence

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, August 24th 2016

A couple of weeks ago I was involved in one of the many online conversations about politics that now characterise Scotland. Afterwards the animated chat in the pub turned to the previous day’s pro-independence march in Glasgow.

Saltires had been there in plenty – and one person, perhaps more fully signed up to independence than the others, asked ‘Why is Scotland the only place in the world where people are told off for flying their flag?’ This was met by myself and others with incredulity, as we pointed out that all over the world flags are problematic, and not one national flag is completely uncontested.

This amiable conversation concluded with two of us saying in near-unison words to the effect: ‘We don’t want to waste time on these sorts of discussions. If we were to waste time on this sort of thing, rather than substance, we would consider voting No next time.’ Read the rest of this entry »

The Problem with Britain and Why It Can’t Be Tidily Put Back Together

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, August 14th 2016

Britain throughout its history has had a reputation for stability and security.

This after all was one of the main clarion calls in the indyref and, more recently, the Brexit vote, but this has always been a bit of a myth and is now increasingly fictitious.

In the European referendum and its aftermath, much of the discussion that occurred repeatedly – supposedly about the country, its challenges and future – wasn’t actually about the UK, but instead about England.

This has become the way the country is presented by its elites. One glaring example of this was the previous week’s BBC post-vote analysis, ‘Brexit: The Battle for Britain’ which had lots to commend it. Politicians were candid, telling stories about decisions – and about each other. Read the rest of this entry »

The SNP’s Depute Leadership Contest could aid a more honest version of independence and post-Brexit politics

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, August 7th 2016

The SNP is about to have a leadership election. A depute leader contest.

Given the SNP is in government in Holyrood – with 63 out of 129 MSPs – and last year won 56 out of 59 Westminster seats, this will have some impact.

Rarely do Deputy Leaders count in parties. Labour has had one since 1922 and none were that important: John Prescott didn’t restrain Blair, and Tom Watson can’t show Corbyn the door. Tories don’t have a formal deputy leader, but often an informal one, when the post of Deputy PM is created – held under Thatcher and Major by Willie Whitelaw, Geoffrey Howe and Michael Heseltine. Whitelaw did have a say, and was a restraint on Thatcher.

The SNP is a bit different. There is still a culture of collective leadership although it is weakening. The party is away to elect its 18th depute – five of those who previously held the role going on to become leader – including the last three, Salmond pre-1990, John Swinney, and Nicola Sturgeon (as well as Gordon Wilson and Billy Wolfe before them). Read the rest of this entry »

Gerry Hassan, Independence of the Scottish Mind: Elite Narratives, Public Spaces and the Making of a Modern Nation, Palgrave Macmillan

ISBN 978-1-137-41413-7

Reviewed by Scott Hames

Soundings: A Journal of Politics and Culture, Summer 2016

The feverish upheaval of Scottish politics has gradually become its own kind of normal. On 5 May the voters practically yawned as they seized their second chance in twelve months to slaughter the Scottish Labour party. (The body-count is considerable, but it was an apathetic smothering compared to the gore of 2015.) As the SNP’s post-referendum insurgency beds down into cautious hegemony, boredom and campaign-fatigue take hold. With little prospect of a change in Holyrood government, less dynamic patterns of public life return to the fore.

It’s a good moment to reflect on how we got here, and what has and hasn’t changed along the way. Gerry Hassan’s lively and comprehensive study offers ‘a longer-term perspective on the loosening of the inner ties of the UK and weakening of British identity, combined with the rise of a Scottish political dimension and debate’. Independence of the Scottish Mind combines the merits of a richly theorised history of the developments that made devolution inevitable, a shrewd insider’s guide to Scotland’s largely invisible civic-institutional elite, and a sharp critique of the nation’s social-democratic consensus. Read the rest of this entry »

A Very British Coup: The rise of Theresa May could see the end of the UK

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, July 17th 2006

Theresa May became the UK Prime Minister this week – elected on a mandate of 199 Tory MPs in what amounted to a very British coup.

She is only Britain’s second ever woman Prime Minister, following in the footsteps of Margaret Thatcher. But in other respects she follows Gordon Brown as the twelfth PM in the last 100 years who has entered Downing Street without a popular mandate.

Jeremy Corbyn is clinging on as Labour leader – aided by his party’s decision to let him on the leadership ballot – irrespective of how few parliamentary colleagues support him. For all the rhetoric of a Blairite coup against him, it is Tories historically who have known how to get rid of failed leaders.

Meanwhile Scotland quietly gets on with a different, more serious politics. It is one nearly entirely bereft of the theatrical politics of Westminster we have seen these last few weeks. Yet, with May coming north to meet Sturgeon, the chasm between the Scottish and UK Governments on EU membership and nationals – as well as Trident – couldn’t be bigger. Read the rest of this entry »

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