Posts Tagged ‘Scottish Nationalists’

Sceptical Scotland needs to be listened to and respected

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, April 9th 2014

There are many Scotlands – generational, by social background, interests, opinions and beliefs.

One Scotland that tends to get overlooked is the thoughtful, but sceptical part of our nation – not Yes but not completely No – who look on with bewilderment and an element of confusion at much of what passes for public debate. We owe it to ourselves to reach out and to understand this Scotland.

Refrains heard recently from this group include, ‘When will this be over’ and ‘When will it ever end’. What does this sense of wariness and resignation signify? Part of it must be an understandable revulsion from the official politics/media ‘civil war without the guns’. But something else is at work which can be summarised as a contest between the Scotland of myth – of our society as a comfortable, centre-left place versus the potential of this debate to demythologise and challenge these myths. That is uncomfortable for some.

Second, there is for some doubt about the Scottish Government prospectus on independence, summarised in the view, ‘I distrust the bright, shiny, optimistic take on independence being put forward’. Read the rest of this entry »

Why Scotland needs to stop living in the past

Gerry Hassan

The Scotsman, November 14th 2013

Who do we have such a powerful propensity to live much of our life backwards?

This can be seen in the power of the past – from mythical wrongs and injustices, to symbolic, psychic triumphs and disasters – the latter ranging from the Darien scheme to Ally’s Tartan Army’s ill-fated expedition to Argentina.

One defining moment of recent history which operates as a lodestar and hinge year politically is ‘the Year Zero’ of 1979.

There are several versions of this. The most visible and noisy is the Labour-SNP contest of who did what to whom all those years ago. There is the accusation of who brought down the Labour Government, and the counter-charge of who inaugurated the era of Thatcherism. Read the rest of this entry »

What is the point of Scotland’s Westminster Politicians?

Gerry Hassan

The Scotsman, November 2nd 2013

Once upon a time Scottish politics meant one of two things: what your local council got up too, and Scottish MPs standing on College Green talking on BBC and STV about what often seemed far-flung issues.

The latter were our only articulation of national party politics. And while it now seems a long time ago it did produce a sort of effective politics and a range of ‘Big Beasts’ – from Tom Johnston and Willie Ross to George Younger, Malcolm Rifkind and Gordon Brown, to name but a few.

This was the age of what was called in polite circles, ‘the Scottish lobby’, but which also went privately by the names, ‘Scottish’ or ‘tartan mafia’. The romantic version of this is the folklore of ‘Red Clydeside’ and the 1922 general election when the city of Glasgow saw ten of its fifteen constituencies return Labour MPs for the first time. Upon their departure from St. Enoch railway station with crowds singing the ‘Red Flag’ they went south to change the Commons, but in the eyes of left-wing critics were more changed by parliament themselves. Read the rest of this entry »

Time to Be Bold in Making a New Scottish Democracy!

Gerry Hassan

The Scotsman, October 19th 2013

We hear all the time that a ‘historic decision’ awaits Scots next year but so far this has seemed like a typical Scots campaign as nervous forces of change face a techy displaced establishment and a media unsure of its role.

All this in the context of traditional institutions declining, new ways of organising and social media emerging, and a country dramatically changed in the last three decades, which ‘official Scotland’ finds difficult to fully grasp.

Our traditional politics struggle with this. The SNP may exude confidence as they meet this weekend in Perth but their Fabian style nationalism – hesitant, incremental and conservative with a small ‘c’ – has so far made the party political weather but not yet convinced on independence.

The pro-union campaign has been aggressive, evasive and harking back to a past Scotland which doubted itself. Last weekend a ‘Better Together’ spokesperson even called pupils in schools singing Scots songs ‘propaganda’. Read the rest of this entry »

The Independence Debate is not a Non-Event but Changing Scotland

Gerry Hassan

The Scotsman, September 28th 2013

How often have you heard it said: the independence referendum is a non-event and as boring as paint drying?

This has become the uncontested view of part of mainstream Scotland and many in public life and the media. Last week ‘Newsnight Scotland’ anchor Gordon Brewer stated as fact that the whole thing was ‘dull as dishwater’, while others regularly pronounce that it is ‘turning off voters’, ‘deadening’ and ‘never-ending’.

It is a cliché, caricature and articulating a world-weary, cynical, Paxmanesque attitude of condescension. It also just happens to be deeply and utterly wrong.

Interestingly, this ‘its all boring’ perspective hasn’t learned from the recent past. Two years ago in the 2011 Scottish Parliament election campaign a chorus of the mainstream media, often the same people as today, called the whole thing predicable and dull with Alf Young dismissing it as ‘the biggest yawn in living memory’ and ‘depressing’. Read the rest of this entry »