Posts Tagged ‘Scottish Nationalism’

George Robertson and the Scots’ Crisis of Unionism

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, April 16th 2014

Something seems to be seriously wrong in the pro-union campaign, ‘Better Together’.

They may still be ahead in the polls, but the gap has narrowed significantly. Two years of dire warnings about the perils of ‘separatism’ and ‘tearing Scotland out the United Kingdom’ have only exposed the threadbare, tetchy character of the pro-union argument so far.

In November last year ‘The Economist’ declared the referendum won for the union; now it reflects on the ‘teflon’ qualities of Scottish nationalism, and the incessant ‘pessimism’ of the pro-union side. Beyond George Robertson’s dire warnings of ‘cataclysmic’ geo-political consequences and ‘the forces of darkness’ a sea change is happening in Scotland which will have an impact long after the referendum. Read the rest of this entry »

The Importance of Growing Up: Heroes and Villains in Modern Scotland

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, March 26th 2014

Who inspires and defines us in modern Scotland? Who gives us inspiration and imagination which says something about who we are, how we see ourselves, individually and collectively? Who are the heroes and, maybe just as pertinently, anti-heroes of the day?

Is Hamish Henderson’s frequently quoted line that Scotland is a land of ‘no gods and precious few heroes’ (as well as heroines) accurate? Couldn’t the opposite be said to be true?

A certain vocal strand of Scotland proudly declares its allegiance to a pantheon of heroes: Keir Hardie, James Connolly, John Maclean, James Maxton and John Wheatley. This is the left and nationalist version of Scotland evoking ‘Red Clydeside’ workerist connotations.

This is motivated by defining Scotland as a distinct political political community, providing a lineage from past to present which offers directions and what some believe is a moral compass; i.e. what would Keir Hardie have done on independence, the Iraq war or charging Tony Blair as a ‘war criminal’? Read the rest of this entry »

The Big Question: Who ‘Lost’ Scotland?

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, March 12th 2014

The independence debate is a product of Scotland changing over decades and generations. Subsequently, this debate has also accelerated and abetted change, challenging old assumptions and throwing light on parts of our public life never previously thoroughly examined.

This transformation will continue whatever the result. One big observation, which needs to be stated, is that whatever the referendum result independence has already won. And Scotland has already been ‘lost’ – a point understood by some of the more thoughtful pro-union observers such as Alex Massie and James Forsyth in ‘The Spectator’.

First, what do I mean by stating that independence has already ‘won’? For a start this does not translate into any automatic balance of forces in the referendum ballot – a point some pro-independent supporters thought I meant when I previously made this strategic observation.

Instead, independence has become normalised – which translates into it coming in from the cold and margins and becoming a mainstream political demand. That’s a massive, generational shift compared to where we were previously. Read the rest of this entry »

The Battle for Britain and Why Alex Salmond and Independence Has Already Won

Gerry Hassan

Open Democracy, February 7th 2014

This year is witnessing several battles for Britain – of numerous anniversaries of past military triumphs, of the Scottish independence referendum, and the rising tide of the Tory Party’s continued obsession with Europe.

All of these are inter-related in the long-term, almost existential, crisis of what Britain is, what is it for, what kind of society and values it represents, and what kind of future it offers its people. This tumultuous moment we now find ourselves in is one with many layers: economic, social, democratic, and even geo-political (in where Britain aspires to ally itself internationally).

The Scottish independence referendum is fascinating and not a narrow or arid constitutional debate, but influenced by these wider concerns. Revealingly, to most of the London political classes it is seen as marginal, disconnected from their concerns, of episodic interest, and discounted (as they already assess they have won), as noted by Alex Massie in his front cover piece in this week’s ‘Spectator’ (1). Read the rest of this entry »

Radical Nostalgia Scotland and Why We Can’t Go Back to the 1970s

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, February 5th 2014

Scotland’s current debate on independence comprises many conversations. They centre on what we were, are and could be, and who did what to whom in the past, and what it means about where we are now, and what we could become in the future.

Many of these aspects were to the fore last week at a Jim Sillars-Alex Neil event to launch Jim’s new book, ‘In Place of Fear II’, under the auspices of ‘Yes Airdrie’. On a cold Thursday night, nearly 300 people attended, a five man only panel (with David Hayman, Pat Kane and the chair), and for two hours of discussion in which every question from the floor was asked by a man. Pat understandably baulked at this, apologised and after his contribution, gave his place to a woman in the audience (who got to make a one minute intervention over the course of the whole evening).

Sillars book is fascinating. It is a real curate’s egg, buzzing with ideas, eclectism and frustration (both about Scotland and personally). Many of the suggestions are a bit dotty (the Robert Burns hospital ship), but many are interesting, and some even heretical (such as self-governing state schools). It is in a deeper sense, a sign of the Scottish times: of a culture which has awoken to the power of the pamphleteer, both old and new, and the floating of numerous vessels and platforms. Read the rest of this entry »