Posts Tagged ‘Scottish Independence’

This is the world of little Britain and Scotland wants no part

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, June 26th 2016

This is what the death of a nation looks like – petty nationalism, populism, fact-free politics, and surprises everywhere. This is the world of ‘little Britain’ – and it isn’t pretty.

These are unpredictable times. There is anger and frustration. Whole sections of British society feel that politicians, elites and experts don’t understand them. Such is their desperation and feeling of powerlessness that many felt that Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage are the answer.

This referendum is about Europe, and has been a long time coming, but is also a proxy about so much more. It’s about the right-wing English press, the media and public obsession with personalities (even in politics), immigration, austerity and the ‘left behind’ working class.

Cameron gambled a second time for high stakes in a referendum and lost. That is bad enough, but he has lost the main strategic union for the UK internationally, and may have brought the union between Scotland and England to a bitter end. Read the rest of this entry »

Whatever happens, Britain has already left the building

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, June 22nd 2016

The UK has already left Europe. It never really joined in any real sense.

National debates like this reveals much about the psyche of a country, and how it sees its collective hopes and fears. For one, it illuminates a lot about the ghosts of the past that haunt a country. In the Scottish indyref, for example, a great deal of this focused on the perceived legacy of Thatcherism and deindustrialisation.

In this European debate, the ghosts seemingly ever-present are those of the spectre of German dominance of the continent and the dark empire of the Nazis, Hitler and World War Two. Further proof, if it were needed, that this has a vice-like grip on the British imagination, was given by the recent controversy over anti-Semitism sparked by Ken Livingstone, which revolved around Hitler’s relationship with Zionism, lacking any sensitivity or interest in historical accuracy.

The 1975 referendum campaign, 41 years ago and 30 years after World War Two, had little to no references to the Nazis and Hitler. People were too close then to the horrendous, murderous events of the war, and careful to not appear tactless or make offensive comparisons. Read the rest of this entry »

Have We Passed Peak SNP? After the Three Dreams of Scottish Nationalism

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, May 18th 2016

Nearly fifty years ago Scotland embarked on a new political journey – one defined by the politics of Scottish nationalism, the electoral challenge of the SNP, and the debate on self-government and how to best express Scotland’s collective interests.

It has been a bumpy ride, involving controversies, incidents, moments of elation and disappointment, but while history is never tidy and linear, Scotland post-Winnie Ewing winning Hamilton in November 1967 was never the same. That much is uncontroversial. There have been subsequently three distinctive waves of SNP support: 1967-74, 1988-92, and then, post-devolution, and in particular since 2007. Each phase has been deeper and more transformative; first, challenging and then supplanting the Tories as the main opposition to Labour, then marginalising Labour, and becoming the leading party of the country.

At the onset of this the writer Tom Nairn wrote an essay, ‘Three Dreams of Scottish Nationalism’ which has often been cited, but seldom seriously analysed. Nairn foresaw three distinct dreams of Scotland historically: Reformation, romanticism, and bourgeois nationalism, each of which in its dream offered the prospect of being damned or saved, redemption or failure, wholeness and salvation or fragmentation and failure.

It is classic early Nairn from which came the famous quotes ‘Scotland will be reborn the day the last minister is strangled with the last copy of the Sunday Post’ and ‘there is no Stalinist like a Scottish Stalinist’ – both of which contain poetry and over-statement. Beyond this, allowing for early Nairn’s doubts about the potential of Scottish independence, much of his critique has remained constant and stands the test of time. Read the rest of this entry »

An Open Letter to the SNP

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, May 15th 2016

Congratulations on last week’s historic third term. It was well deserved. The party has rightly established a reputation for competence. Nicola Sturgeon is popular and liked; none of the opposition come near.

The SNP has contributed enormously to public life. It is seen as standing up for Scotland’s interests and after decades of Labour cronyism has been a new broom.

This is probably as good as it gets. For the good of the country, the party and independence, it needs to understand the nature of its victory and mandate.

1. Nicola Sturgeon said the election gave her ‘a clear and unequivocal mandate’. That’s not accurate, and sets the wrong tone when the public have just elected a minority SNP administration.

2. There is now an established pattern emerging of SNP over-reach seen in the three peaks of the indyref, 2015 election and this year. The SNP doesn’t seem to know how to deal with huge success (2015), slight reverses (this year) and losing (indyref). That’s a worrying pattern. Read the rest of this entry »

The End of An Era: Goodbye to the 1980s and the Age of the Imperial SNP

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, May 8th 2016

Last week’s election marked the end of a historic era –  a Scotland defined by the explosion and aftermath of the independence referendum.

Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP have been given a mandate of sorts – not the kind they were looking for or expecting. It is much more conditional, while still tinged with respect.

The SNP won but their expectations about a landslide got the better of them. Sturgeon tried to play it both ways on the indyref (not as chaotically as Labour’s Kezia Dugdale) but given her position as First Minister did so in a way that caused some doubt and even confusion.

There were several winners. The Tories and Greens are on the up, and outflanking the SNP on the right and left. Both were ‘winners’ in the indyref, but have managed to move on to new terrain. Read the rest of this entry »

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