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Posts Tagged ‘Scottish Nationalism’

Alex Salmond, Showbiz and whatever happened to the politics of optimism?

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, August 16th 2017

All political leaders have a certain limited shelf life. If they are very successful and lucky they win elections, hold power and make decisions, but the public eventually grow tired and wary of their constant public presence.

The twilight years and long goodbyes of the likes of Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, Ted Heath and his thirty year grudge with Thatcher, are all examples of how difficult many find the transition. Thatcher, whatever your political views of her, won three elections in a row, and after her party overthrew her, pined for the call to return. Blair, despite his millions and acclaim from various despots, yearns for domestic political influence and has, until the June election, been making plans for a new pro-EU centrist party – which might now be off or still on.

The SNP and Scottish nationalism has played a huge part in our recent history and central to this has been Alex Salmond who led the party over two periods and twenty years: 1990-2000 and 2004 and 2014.

There are numerous achievements to his leadership in changing the SNP and Scotland permanently. First, he professionalised how the SNP conducted itself and politics, bringing a discipline and self-denying ordinance. The SNP became a party which looked outward and to win – a shift from the 1980s inward obsessions (and also with Scottish Labour’s lack of extrovert interest in winning floating voters at the time). Read the rest of this entry »

A Summer of Discontent in Scotland’s Independence Movement

Gerry Hassan

Sceptical Scot, August 9th 2017

It isn’t a happy time for the Scottish independence movement. To some it seems like the silly season; to others a summer of discontent. But clearly something is going on which matters for the state of Scottish politics and the cause of independence.

The context is important. The SNP reverse in the 2017 election came as an unwelcome shock to many independence supporters. It has thrown many post-2014 assumptions into the air concerning the inevitability of another independence referendum, its timing and result.

The differences have been telling. Pro-independence blogger Wings over Scotland – aka Stuart Campbell – has said he will take Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale to court for defamation after she said remarks of his were homophobic. Green MSP Ross Greer said ‘The National’s’ front covers were ‘cringe-inducing’, and criticised the ‘bile’ of part of the independence movement. One example he cited was the personal abuse Cat Boyd faced following the revelation she voted Labour in the June election. Read the rest of this entry »

Scotching the Myths of Modern Scotland

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, June 7th 2017

Cultures and nations live by myths. This has been so since the dawn of civilisation and has never been more apparent in recent weeks, in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Manchester and London that have so dominated the first half of 2017 in Britain and the UK general election.

The popular slogan invoking the spirit of the Blitz and World War Two – ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ – embodies how the British like to see themselves when under pressure. There is stoicism, a determination to continue with everyday life, and a quiet patriotism that is more about what makes people proud of this country than feeling superior to others.

This of course is part of the foundation story of Britain of the UK standing alone in the past and future – apart from Europe – and drawing from a seamless thread of uninterrupted British history. Never mind the facts. It doesn’t matter that there was an English Civil War in the 17th century, that the UK only took its name in 1801, or that its current legal name (the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) is a mere ninety years old, defined in law in 1927 after Ireland left in 1922. All nations and states have similar stories, selective memories, and deliberate remembering of some things and forgetting of others. Read the rest of this entry »

‘When I hear the word Scotland I want to say: ‘Shut the Fuck Up’’

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, May 3rd 2017

‘When I hear the word Scotland, I want to say: ‘Shut the Fuck Up.’’ These were the emotive words someone said at a public event in Newcastle I spoke at exactly one year to the day after the 2014 indyref.

They undoubtedly voiced the views of a part of the country – by that I mean a part of England. But at the same time their anger and loss of patience taps into something that is clearly going on in present day Scotland.

The English part is the more easy to surmise. England has had an awful lot of Scotland in recent years. There was the indyref, the 2015 UK general election, the SNP 56, and then the after affects of Brexit.

The tone of the SNP 56 has had lots of shades and positives, but can often come over, particularly for those outwith Scotland, with a sense of Scottish exceptionalism, conceit and sense of its own moral superiority. This translates into a lack of awareness of impact that can alienate those outside Scotland, not all of whom are the SNP’s natural enemies. Read the rest of this entry »

The Continuing Battle for Scotland: Goodbye to British politics and Goodbye to Britain?

Gerry Hassan

Bella Caledonia, April 19th 2017

The age of perma-campaigning and elections continues in Scotland. Theresa May’s snap election, supposedly to give her a mandate for Brexit which she already had, will be Scotland’s seventh visit to the polls in the last three years.

For some of us, a select few, this is nirvana. For many more it is an unwanted intrusion. But while mainstream media vox pops show us the now legendary Brenda from Bristol say how disgusted she is at having to vote again, a YouGov poll showed that 49% thought May was right to go the country and only 17% disagreed.

The battlelines of the contest, both clear and unclear, are being drawn. This is an election which will be about more than Brexit and independence, but the multiple crises and uncertainties of the UK. It isn’t an accident that there have been a pile up of elections and referendums in the UK recently, because this is one indication of the fading power and legitimacy of the political classes. Read the rest of this entry »