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Posts Tagged ‘Scottish Nationalists’

Is Scotland really a social democratic country?

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, October 18th 2017

At last week’s SNP conference in the middle of her keynote speech, Nicola Sturgeon asked: ‘What kind of country do we want to be?’ She wasn’t expecting an answer, and seemed surprised when a member of the party faithful shouted out ‘an independent one.’

Behind Sturgeon’s non-question is the belief in Scottish difference, the efficacy of our values, and the link of both of these to the idea of Scotland as a social democratic country. Thus, around the conference chatter and commentary, Lesley Riddoch on Sky News spoke of ‘a social democratic consensus’ in Scotland, while Iain Macwhirter on the BBC talked of ‘a social democratic politics.’

Scotland as a land of social democracy has become the lexicon of our politics. It has accelerated under devolution, contributing to the mood music of the political environment and institutions. This has become even more pronounced under SNP rule, for obvious reasons, as the difference between Scotland and England politically is emphasised – Scotland social democratic good; England neo-liberal bad. Read the rest of this entry »

Scottish Independence in the Age of Disruption: Big Questions for the SNP, Labour and Tories

Gerry Hassan

LSE Politics Blog, October 9th 2017

Scottish politics are in a strange place at the moment – not one of calm, but of transition with the future uncertain. After several years of high-octane politics, and the twin peaks of disruption of the 2014 indyref and 2016 Brexit vote, all of Scotland’s main political parties have some adjusting to do.

The SNP, ten years in office, are still trying to digest the reverse of the 2017 UK election; the Tories how to continue their new found popularity; and Labour have another leadership contest to choose their ninth leader in the devolution era. The Lib Dems, despite once being crucial coalition partners with Labour in Scotland, and the Scottish Greens, whose vital pro-independence votes in the Scottish Parliament the SNP need for a majority, both struggle to make an impact.

The SNP meet at their autumn conference in Glasgow in unsettled mood. They are more unsure of themselves than a year ago; less confident that the forces of history are behind them and will carry all before it leading to independence. Ten years into office, the party first went up in popularity – its narrow win in 2007 followed by a landslide in 2011 in devolved elections, then by the tsunami of the SNP 56 in 2015. It has been slowly down since, while still remaining by far Scotland’s leading party – and government. Read the rest of this entry »

Holyrood has given Scotland independence of the mind

Gerry Hassan

The Guardian, September 11th 2017

Twenty years ago today Scotland voted 3:1 for the establishment of a Scottish Parliament. It was clear the old Westminster system of governing Scotland was discredited. Voters recognised it was undemocratic, and produced bad politics and legislation. The case for change had become a consensus – ‘the settled will’ in John Smith’s description – that the referendum merely and validated.

Twenty years later devolution has been a success. There are no serious calls for the Scottish Parliament to be abolished or for a return of direct rule from Westminster. Ruth Davidson and the Tories long ago made their peace. The late Tam Dalyell was the last expression of such a politics.

The Scottish public now views the Scottish Parliament, rather than Westminster, as the most important political institution. Irrespective of formal independence, Scotland already has an informal independence of the mind in how it talks, thinks and acts. Read the rest of this entry »

Can the SNP change and adapt after ten years at the top?

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, September 6th 2017

Scotland has had much media prominence in the last few days. The new Queensferry Crossing opening across the Forth; Scotland voted the most beautiful country in the world according to ‘Rough Guide’ readers, while even the Scottish national football team has managed back-to-back victories and gained itself a chance of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup.

It is almost as if many Scots have been yearning for some good news stories. Because of late they haven’t seemed to be many from our politics. The Scottish Parliament is back from summer break and the Scottish Government has unveiled its new legislative programme which has some eye-catching measures such as the abolition of the public sector pay cap, setting up a Scottish National Investment Bank and eliminating petrol and diesel vehicles by 2032. But after a summer of discontent in the SNP and independence opinion will this it be enough for the Nationalists to regain their political momentum? Read the rest of this entry »

The Scottish Question has not yet been answered:

The SNP, Independence and the Future of Our Nation

Sunday Herald, August 20th 2017

Gerry Hassan

SCOTTISH politics feels, and looks on the surface, becalmed at the moment. This is an age of permanent disruption – of populist movements, protests, anger, indignation, dismay and social division. This shouldn’t surprise anyone considering the politics of the last 40 years across the West: the rise of inequality and insecurity, the grand theft and appropriation of the super-rich. In the 10 years since the financial crash, the fundamentals of finance capitalism haven’t changed, while in the UK, US and elsewhere real-terms living standards have flatlined.

Scotland isn’t an exception. But there has been a growing Scottish autonomy and detachment from the rest of Britain and the direction of British politics. The idea of Britain as a political entity, not a geographical territory, is now in crisis. This means that the idea of independence – beyond the SNP’s cautious version of it – speaks to this wider canvas – of a more autonomous, distinctive Scotland which doesn’t look to Westminster for solutions or the future, whereas unionism, despite its tactical successes in the recent election, has very little positive to offer.

There is even a difference of opinion within the independence movement, not just between the SNP and those of other and no parties. This is between those who want to navigate through this age of uncertainty by emphasising security, stability and solidarity, championing worthy British values from the immediate post-war era. And those who recognise that in this era of instability, independence can only be about embracing change as the best way to articulate the Scotland of the future. Read the rest of this entry »

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