Posts Tagged ‘Scottish Nationalists’

Nicola Sturgeon, the SNP and the Age of Anti-Austerity Politics

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, February 15th 2015

It has been a week filled with economic news and controversies.

There was the imploding crisis of HSBC’s secret Swiss bank accounts and tax avoidance; the on-going Greek-German Governments European stand-off which threatens the future of the entire euro zone; while Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England, is getting people ready for a year of flat or even falling prices.

At the same time after years of public spending constraints and cuts, across large parts of Europe there is a widespread movement and force for anti-austerity politics. This can be seen in the rise of Syriza in Greece, the newly created popular Podemos in Spain, and – this week – in Nicola Sturgeon laying out the SNP’s position in a major London speech.

Sturgeon’s speech attracted lots of London media interest. And whether people agreed or not they took her and her agenda seriously. It was a considered and timely intervention, and seen as that by even her opponents. Read the rest of this entry »

The Myth of ‘Glasgow Man’

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, February 1st 2015

‘Glasgow man’ is expected to be a critical factor in the forthcoming general election contest in Scotland.

He, or it, is central to Jim Murphy’s attempt to save Scottish Labour and win back 200,000 Labour supporters who voted Yes in the referendum. It is also pivotal to the SNP’s attempt to breakthrough in traditional Labour seats.

Glasgow man is shorthand for a certain political demographic – the equivalent of ‘Basildon man’ who supposedly won it for Thatcher, and of ‘Mondeo man’ who contributed to Blair’s three election victories.

Glasgow man is meant to represent men in the city, and in North and South Lanarkshire, aged between 25-40 years, who voted Labour in the 2010 Westminster election and didn’t in the 2011 Scottish Parliament contest, and who voted Yes in the referendum.

Glasgow man implies a certain outlook: masculinist, certain and sure of their views, and reflecting the city, its politics and culture. Underneath there is a definite whiff of caricatures of working class men – of football, drink and tobacco, and more subtlely, of a sepia tinged radicalism and potent nostalgia. Read the rest of this entry »

Message to the Messengers Part Two: Where next after the indy referendum?

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Left Project, December 12th 2014

The winds of change are without doubt blowing through Scotland.

There is the decline of traditional power and institutions, the hollowing out and, in places, implosion of some of the key anchor points of public life and a fundamental shift in authority in many areas.

This is Scotland’s ‘long revolution’ – which the indyref was a product of and which then was a catalyst of further change. It is partly understandable that in the immediate aftermath of the referendum, expectations have risen, people have thought fundamental change could happen in the period immediately following the vote, and timescales once thought long have been dramatically shortened by some on the independence side.

Popular expectations, pressure and demand for change are a positive, not a negative. Yet, there is the potential pitfall of playing into a left-nat instant gratification culture which poses that all that is needed for change is wish fulfillment, collective will and correct leadership, and hey presto Scotland will be free!  This is a dangerous cocktail because when change doesn’t happen quickly, many of Scotland’s newly politicised activists may turn away in disappointment.

The times they are a-changing, but they are still messy, complicated and full of contradictions. For a start, the power of establishment Scotland is still, for all its uncomfortableness and nervous disposition in the indyref, well-entrenched and deeply dug in across society. If brought under scrutiny and challenge, from land reform to a genuine politics of redistribution, they will fight bitterly and with powerful resources for their narrow vested interests. Read the rest of this entry »

The Challenge of Success for Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, November 16th 2014

The SNP are in good spirits with new leader Nicola Sturgeon describing the party as having ‘the wind in its sails’.

The party might have been on the losing side of the recent independence referendum, but is riding high in the polls for Westminster next year and the Scottish Parliament elections the following year, with party membership sitting now at 85,000 and rising.

This is the party that Nicola Sturgeon inherits from Alex Salmond this weekend. ‘The country has changed, and changed utterly’ claimed Salmond in his Friday farewell (for now) speech. Things will never be the same. Now the party has the opportunity, as nearly every speaker at the SNP conference, said to  ‘hold the Westminster feet to the fire’.

This will be not be easy, as the party faces the challenge of success – including managing high, and in some cases, ridiculous expectations, and letting down gently those who believe instant change is somehow possible. With the SNP in permanent campaigning mode since the referendum, no one in the party leadership has yet paused, reflected and shown the ability to move on. Read the rest of this entry »

What kind of Scotland does Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP want?

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, November 12th 2014

Scotland and Scottish politics are in unchartered waters. The post-indyref has shaken and rearranged the normal reference points: SNP membership has gone through the roof, while the Labour ‘winners’ have laid claim to putting on a paltry 1,000 members.

Amid all the noise and debate, there is in the confusion, an eerie lack of substantive discussion, as people try to find their way. In the Labour Party a clutch of left-wingers believe that their core problem is the party’s embrace north of the border of ‘Blairism’; in the SNP, Jim Sillars and Gordon Wilson have been making predictable sounds calling for a more defiant, traditionalist nationalist approach, mistakeningly believing this will somehow win more widespread support than that achieved by Alex Salmond.

In both Labour and SNP contests there has been a surprising lack of debate. The Labour contest at least has another month to run, and the possibility that a choice between Jim Murphy, Neil Findlay and Sarah Boyack, will bring out some of the huge questions the party has to face if it is to turn its fortunes around. Read the rest of this entry »

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