Posts Tagged ‘Scottish Labour Party’

The Myth of the Great Leader: Gordon Brown, Jimmy Reid and Alex Salmond

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, September 1st 2016

The times they-are-a-changing. There is a tangible feeling in the air of discontent, anger and bewilderment. People feel let down and cheated by the multiple powers that be.

It isn’t surprising then that there is a palpable sense of national nostalgia depicted on TV – remakes fill the screens (Are You Being Served?, Porridge), while period dramas (Downton Abbey) or endless documentaries on World War Two and the Nazis are hugely popular.

The left aren’t immune to this either – having always had their own strand of radical nostalgia from primitive communism, to William Morris’s eco-utopia, the spirit of 1945, and the current vogue for ‘what would Keir Hardie say?’ Moreover, radical nostalgia now seems stronger than it ever has been on the left. It is conservative, about the past offering better prospects than the future, and denying the present and recent past. Jeremy Corbyn is a fitting embodiment of it: consistent and unchanging in his views since 1975, uncaring about electoral prospects, and without any evident self-criticism or original views.

The above view of the world is linked to one of the left’s great pillars – the Great Leader view of political change. Paradoxically, for a political tradition which is supposedly about collectivism, the left have bought into this individualist view of change. And of course, despite all the talk of equality, the left has been about brotherhood – so in Britain, the Great Leader has to be a man. Read the rest of this entry »

The Labour Party: that pillar of the British constitution doesn’t have a right to exist

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, July 25th 2016

Politics requires a credible opposition that holds government to account. One that offers the prospect of an alternative government – but now, and for the foreseeable future, Scotland and the UK is without one.

This is due to the state of Labour. The last year has been one of the most disastrous in the party’s history. A second election defeat, Scotland lost – and then Brexit. And after last year’s defeat the party curled up even more in its comfort zone and elected Jeremy Corbyn.

Corbyn now faces a proper leadership contest against Owen Smith. The party has in two days enlisted 183,541 new members, producing 515,000 card-carrying members. But the party has lost control of who it is, or who its members are.

One big difference between Labour and Tories is that Tories love power and know how to use it. Labour don’t love power and don’t know how to use it. This division between the two parties has always been so. Read the rest of this entry »

The SNP, Centre-Left Politics and the State of Social Democracy

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, June 8th 2016

One party stands head and shoulders above all others in Scotland – namely, the Scottish National Party. It has got there through its own efforts, hard work and virtues, along with the numerous mistakes and weaknesses of its opponents. Scottish Labour’s long car crash was part tragedy, part comedy, but mostly of its own making. If it ever has an obituary written, it will say: ‘died at its own hands’. The Scottish Tories have been toxic for a generation, even seen as unScottish and ‘alien’, a phenomenon only slowly beginning to change.

This then begs the question: nine years into office, what do the SNP and Nicola Sturgeon stand for? What kind of Scotland do they wish to bring about, bar one that is independent and self-governing? For some these latter qualities are enough, based for them on principle, but for many they are abstracts which need further detail, and should be the means to an end of wider economic and social change, not an end in itself.

In many respects, a large part of the last nine years of the SNP in office have been the years of light lifting, considering the disarray and weaknesses of their opponents. It has been easy to point the finger at ‘London Labour’, even worse ‘Red Tories’, and of course, the grip of Westminster. Things aren’t always going to be so easy: opponents will be less incompetent, incumbents make mistakes, more powers are coming to the Parliament, and a decade of public spending cuts will take their toll. Read the rest of this entry »

The Scottish Revolution that isn’t quite what people expected

Gerry Hassan

May 6th 2016

The Scottish election was a foregone conclusion. Everything was settled we were told. But it hasn’t quite turned out that way.

A third SNP term, but without the expected overall majority that the Nationalists and polls expected. A Tory revival beyond expectations. And a Labour nightmare implosion which makes it difficult to see a way back. Decent results for the Greens and Lib Dems.

All of this will throw up big questions about politics, power and legitimacy. Nicola Sturgeon has talked about ‘a clear and unequivocal mandate’, but is it really – when the Nats campaigned with the expectation of a majority? Part of this is failed expectation management, but it raises questions about whether Sturgeon and the Nats can adapt to a different language and politics in more difficult times, and a more contested politics? This is without getting into what this means for the longer term prospects of independence – which cannot now be seen as synonymous with the SNP.

Here are some of the bigger changes:

1. TURNOUT

The second highest Scottish Parliament election turnout since 1999. 55.6% is up 5.2% on 2011 – but way down on the indyref 84.6% and last year’s 71.1%. Some of ‘the missing Scotland’ which turned out in the indyref – has clearly become disenfranchised again – look at the Dundee and Glasgow turnouts for example. Read the rest of this entry »

The Scottish Pop-up Election will decide many things about our future

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, April 17th 2016

The Scottish election is underway – the winners already decided, the European referendum casting a shadow, and all the parties having difficulty shifting from the land of milk and honey to austerity and cuts.

One seasoned observer commented to me that the election wasn’t what things were like in his day, reminiscing about the joys of seeing Harold Wilson in Glasgow in 1966. This is the cry of the older generation down the ages; things aren’t the same, and everything – politics, elections, football – were better in the dewy-eyed days of their youth.

This contest says much about our country and future. There are perennial problems with Scottish contests in a British context, which are not treated as the ‘national’ election by the British media, and at best on a par with the local government London Mayoral contest, and often, relegated under it.

This contributes to our elections – seeming like in William McIlvanney’s words ‘a pop-up picture school of Scottish history’. He meant how our past is seen as all about kings and queens and isolated events, which people feel alienated from and don’t really understand. This has the look of a ‘pop-up election’ – with voters one step removed from a series of isolated events and photo-ops. Read the rest of this entry »

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