Posts Tagged ‘Scottish Nationalists’

It’s Time for Dangerous Talk: Jaytalking Scotland

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, September 15th 2016

These are strange times. We are told everyday in every way by numerous experts and talking heads that this is an age of unprecedented change, uncertainty and flux. That nothing can be taken for granted.

Yet this is also an age of great conformity and conservatism; not only in mainstream politics but in large acres of what passes for popular culture – from music to novels, theatre, comedy, TV and visual arts.

Scotland fits into this pattern rather well. It has shaken the UK to near breaking point and tells itself continually it is social democratic and egalitarian, while being rather conservative in how it goes about this as well as many other things.

Our country is littered with examples of our collective conformity and lack of interest in substantive change – let alone any real radicalism. And what is telling is our lack of interest or curiosity in these discrepancies – lest they disrupt our telling ourselves how unique we are.

If Scotland were this place of radicalism wouldn’t there be a land filled with lots of examples of radicalism? Of pioneering legislation, examples of social change, and people and communities empowered? Would there not have been a shake up of one of the ultimate closed shops: the Scottish legal establishment? Or the education community? Or even senior health consultants? Public sector reform is a phrase left at the border. Read the rest of this entry »

Does Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP have the courage to challenge Scotland and her own side?

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, September 4th 2016

This week First Minister Nicola Sturgeon launched a major new initiative on independence.

At the moment she is playing for time – waiting to see the developing post-Brexit landscape, Theresa May’s hand with Article 50 and the broad outline of the deal the UK is proposing with the EU.

There are numerous factors at work. Sturgeon has to be seen doing something. She has to appear in charge and doing something on independence. Plus there is the small issue of keeping 120,000 members busy and engaged, 80% of who weren’t in the SNP two years ago.

It has taken two years from the indyref for the SNP to get to this – a listening exercise. That is, to put it mildly, slow progress and not exactly prioritising independence. What have the SNP leadership been up to in these two years, apart from perma-campaigning? Aren’t politicians able to multi-task? Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

Flags and Stramashs in Scotland’s Summer of Independence

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, August 24th 2016

A couple of weeks ago I was involved in one of the many online conversations about politics that now characterise Scotland. Afterwards the animated chat in the pub turned to the previous day’s pro-independence march in Glasgow.

Saltires had been there in plenty – and one person, perhaps more fully signed up to independence than the others, asked ‘Why is Scotland the only place in the world where people are told off for flying their flag?’ This was met by myself and others with incredulity, as we pointed out that all over the world flags are problematic, and not one national flag is completely uncontested.

This amiable conversation concluded with two of us saying in near-unison words to the effect: ‘We don’t want to waste time on these sorts of discussions. If we were to waste time on this sort of thing, rather than substance, we would consider voting No next time.’ Read the rest of this entry »

The SNP’s Depute Leadership Contest could aid a more honest version of independence and post-Brexit politics

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, August 7th 2016

The SNP is about to have a leadership election. A depute leader contest.

Given the SNP is in government in Holyrood – with 63 out of 129 MSPs – and last year won 56 out of 59 Westminster seats, this will have some impact.

Rarely do Deputy Leaders count in parties. Labour has had one since 1922 and none were that important: John Prescott didn’t restrain Blair, and Tom Watson can’t show Corbyn the door. Tories don’t have a formal deputy leader, but often an informal one, when the post of Deputy PM is created – held under Thatcher and Major by Willie Whitelaw, Geoffrey Howe and Michael Heseltine. Whitelaw did have a say, and was a restraint on Thatcher.

The SNP is a bit different. There is still a culture of collective leadership although it is weakening. The party is away to elect its 18th depute – five of those who previously held the role going on to become leader – including the last three, Salmond pre-1990, John Swinney, and Nicola Sturgeon (as well as Gordon Wilson and Billy Wolfe before them). Read the rest of this entry »

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