Posts Tagged ‘Scottish Parliament’

Scottish Labour: The Never-ending Soap Opera That Matters

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, October 29th 2014

Scottish Labour loves talking about itself.  The evidence for this is everywhere in the last few days, in print media, TV and radio studios, and social media.

Organisations which have lost their way, which are in decline and crisis, often do this as a displacement activity. Think of the Tories ‘banging on’ about Europe, or the BBC post-Savile. Such behaviour is never a good sign. It makes people think their internal obsessions are important, and that the minutiae of such debates matter to the public.

The first lesson for Labour is that lots of what it is doing does not matter at the moment. Labour has become a soap opera, one with diminishing ratings. If it were say ‘Eastenders’, it would be one where most of the original cast and big hitters (Angie and Den) have left, it is reduced to the B, then C list, and no one knows who is in it apart from a few fanatics.

The only reason the show remains on the screen is that no one has the energy or interest to pull it. Scottish Labour is the longest running soap opera currently on the go in the country. It is longer running than its main competitor for attention, drama and inadvertent comedy – Rangers FC. That’s not an honour. Read the rest of this entry »

Seven Suggestions for Scottish Labour to be the Party of Change

Gerry Hassan

The Scotsman, April 20th 2013

It seems to be the age of seven questions as Tony Blair once again acts as an uncomfortable sage for Labour and Ed Miliband.

With Labour meeting in Inverness this weekend and the party’s Devolution Commission interim report out, it is time for Scottish Labour to assess where it is and what it needs to do to change and to start shaping the political weather.

Here then are my seven observations and suggestions for you Johann:

1. Careless Talk Costs Political Lives

Your ‘something for nothing’ speech has gone down in political mythology; not quite the ‘Sermon on the Mound’, but cast that way by opponents. There was a point to your argument, but strategically and tactically, it was ineptly executed. There was no preparatory work, of building advance positions, and signing up significant allies prior to the speech.

The language was counter-productive and damaging to Labour. ‘Something for nothing’ might work as a soundbite from your spin-doctor Paul Sinclair or in a ‘Daily Record’ editorial, but it deeply hurts Labour by embracing right wing populist rhetoric. Read the rest of this entry »

The Scottish Press, Generation Gridlock and Living with Crony Capitalism

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, March 21st 2013

The Scottish media and press are not exactly in a healthy state; facing pressures and constrictions from every angle, from the expectations and demands of an independence referendum, to disappearing audiences and revenues.

This is the backdrop to Leveson, the Scottish ‘expert’ response (the McCluskey report), and the debate so far.

Twenty years ago, the atmosphere was completely different, filled with the air of self-congratulation and smugness of everything being labeled ‘Scottish’ and the press defined by ‘Real Scots Read the Record’ versus ‘Rise Now and Be a Nation’ ‘Scottish Sun’.

How things change as Alex Massie’s poignant lament for a world slowly withering made clear. As he also pointed out, parts of the Scottish press with their limited, dwindling resources have been trying their best to do a decent job, unnoticed by large parts of their potential audience.

Yet there are many siren, certain voices who revel in the current situation. The most prevalent strand is that of a nationalist viewpoint who feel independence has not historically and still does not get a fair deal, from what has been until recent decades, a liberal unionist press. This allows them to embrace a rather unattractive schadenfreude and talk of the demise of a declining, failed industry. Read the rest of this entry »

The UKIP Policy Nigel Farage Doesn’t Want to Talk About

Gerry Hassan

Open Democracy, March 8th 2013

UKIP are suddenly everywhere in the aftermath of their second place and 28% in the Eastleigh by-election. Nigel Farage, their irascible leader, is even more omnipotent with even more appearances on BBC ‘Question Time’ to look forward too.

North of the border UKIP have always had a perception, identity and popularity problem. They are widely seen as an English nationalist party, one whose idea of Britain is narrowly centred on a time when the two terms could be used interchangeably. It is a mindset stuck in a timewarp situated between the 1950s and 1970s, between the beginning and end of the Empire, and which yearns for an England which began to completely disappear in the decade of ‘The Rise and Fall of Reginald Perrin’ and ‘The Good Life’.

Nevertheless Scottish politics is not immune to people harking back to better yesterdays, and certainly there is a similar popular sentiment and aura of anti-politics, which dismisses all mainstream politics and politicians, in Scotland as elsewhere in the UK. Read the rest of this entry »

The Missing Ingredient in Scottish Labour: Leadership

Gerry Hassan

The Scotsman, September 17th 2011

The Scottish Labour Party might be in a terrible place at the moment, but it believes that it is slowly beginning to dig itself out of the mess it is in.

It has started to address the inadequacies of its structures through the Jim Murphy-Sarah Boyack review – which seems so far more cautious, than transformative.

Politics isn’t just about structure, but more tangible issues such as culture, purpose and the issue of leadership. Labour politicians touched on this during and after the election when they lamented that their party did not have a leader who was the calibre of Alex Salmond, or any equivalent of ‘Team Salmond’.

What is missing from Scottish Labour is any sense of public leadership. Leadership is about a number of ingredients – vision, building trust, taking decisions, making things happen, taking people with you, and communicating to colleagues and the public. Read the rest of this entry »