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Posts Tagged ‘Scottish Independence’

Brexit is turning Britain upside down – and Scotland has a chance to say No

Gerry Hassan

The Guardian Comment, January 15th 2018

Brexit has turned British politics and Britain itself upside down. But to the UK Government and Westminster political classes it is business as usual on the home front as far as Brexit and everything else is concerned.

Not for them that Brexit is nearly entirely an English revolt (with Welsh acquiescence), or that Scotland and Northern Ireland are being dragged along against majority sentiment in their territories.

Today the Scottish Government published its latest paper on Brexit, ‘Scotland’s Place in Europe: People, Jobs and Investment’ which estimates that a hard Brexit would cost the Scottish economy £12.7bn a year by 2030, representing £2,300 per year for every person in Scotland.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon spoke in her typical, no nonsense manner at its launch. But while Sturgeon is consistently impressive, she has to deal with inconvenient realities. Namely, that the UK Government have consistently marginalised Scotland in the Brexit process. Read the rest of this entry »

The World in 2018: Trump, Brexit, Britain and the Scottish Debate

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, January 10th 2018

The New Year is always a time for reflection. I spent the Christmas and New Year break in the United States, providing an opportunity for reflection and a different take on the world.

Two and a half weeks in an American urban setting, even in one of the wealthiest and most creative clusters in the country around Boston and Cambridge, showcases what works and what doesn’t. Conspicuous wealth sits side-by-side crumbling infrastructure and poverty personified by the MBTA train system that looks like it last had serious investment in the 1950s or 1960s.

The American media have an understandable obsession with Trump – at the moment along with extreme weather. Britain is only visible through Brexit and the latest Royal wedding. One well-stocked secondhand bookshop for example had a large number of books in its British section, but on closer examination more than half were on the royals.

Brexit fascinates the Americans and gets some coverage, but isn’t really understood. Scotland is an afterthought at best, and often confused with Ireland. The only media mention of Scotland in the States during the holidays was the Cameron House Hotel fire by Loch Lomond. This shows that disasters and even mini-disasters can have global reach – as the 2014 Glasgow School of Art fire achieved, or in a different kind of implosion, that of Rangers FC. Read the rest of this entry »

Is Scotland really a social democratic country?

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, October 18th 2017

At last week’s SNP conference in the middle of her keynote speech, Nicola Sturgeon asked: ‘What kind of country do we want to be?’ She wasn’t expecting an answer, and seemed surprised when a member of the party faithful shouted out ‘an independent one.’

Behind Sturgeon’s non-question is the belief in Scottish difference, the efficacy of our values, and the link of both of these to the idea of Scotland as a social democratic country. Thus, around the conference chatter and commentary, Lesley Riddoch on Sky News spoke of ‘a social democratic consensus’ in Scotland, while Iain Macwhirter on the BBC talked of ‘a social democratic politics.’

Scotland as a land of social democracy has become the lexicon of our politics. It has accelerated under devolution, contributing to the mood music of the political environment and institutions. This has become even more pronounced under SNP rule, for obvious reasons, as the difference between Scotland and England politically is emphasised – Scotland social democratic good; England neo-liberal bad. Read the rest of this entry »

Scottish Independence in the Age of Disruption: Big Questions for the SNP, Labour and Tories

Gerry Hassan

LSE Politics Blog, October 9th 2017

Scottish politics are in a strange place at the moment – not one of calm, but of transition with the future uncertain. After several years of high-octane politics, and the twin peaks of disruption of the 2014 indyref and 2016 Brexit vote, all of Scotland’s main political parties have some adjusting to do.

The SNP, ten years in office, are still trying to digest the reverse of the 2017 UK election; the Tories how to continue their new found popularity; and Labour have another leadership contest to choose their ninth leader in the devolution era. The Lib Dems, despite once being crucial coalition partners with Labour in Scotland, and the Scottish Greens, whose vital pro-independence votes in the Scottish Parliament the SNP need for a majority, both struggle to make an impact.

The SNP meet at their autumn conference in Glasgow in unsettled mood. They are more unsure of themselves than a year ago; less confident that the forces of history are behind them and will carry all before it leading to independence. Ten years into office, the party first went up in popularity – its narrow win in 2007 followed by a landslide in 2011 in devolved elections, then by the tsunami of the SNP 56 in 2015. It has been slowly down since, while still remaining by far Scotland’s leading party – and government. Read the rest of this entry »

Catalonia and Scotland are very different: The complex struggle for self-determination

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, October 4th 2017

There are many reasons to be thankful for living in Scotland. This came home to roost in the last week with the Catalan referendum, the experience of the Iraqi Kurds voting on independence, and even, more dramatically, the tragic events in the US when Las Vegas witnessed yet another mass killing and carnage.

Scotland is a prosperous and peaceful country. Unlike Catalonia we were able to have an independence referendum – which everyone agreed to, participated in, and accepted who won and who lost.

Central to this was the role of the British Government. For all the ‘othering’ of Britain and the British state – which happens in pro-independence opinion – from its pursuit of inequality, war on the poor and unraveling of the welfare state, to its many military adventures abroad and belief in its role as an international policeman, it acted (in the Scottish example) with an element of insight, intelligence and even wisdom. And we were all the better for it. Read the rest of this entry »

Gerry Hassan is a writer, commentator and thinker about Scotland, the UK, politics and ideas. more >
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