Posts Tagged ‘Scottish politics’

Labour’s Taxing Problems: The Party is fighting for its very existence

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, February 7th 2016

This week Scottish Labour made a move on tax. Is it a daring or desperate move?

It broke with the party’s position since the Scottish Parliament was set up in 1999 not to propose any tax increases. At the same time, as the SNP retained its stratospheric poll ratings for the May elections, the Tories drew level with Labour for second place, while Labour issued their regional list candidates with an obvious lack of ‘new blood’ or talent.

With the Scottish Parliament gaining more taxation powers now and in the near-future, Labour have decided, along with the Lib Dems, to break ranks, in arguing for an increase of one penny in income tax.

Even the Tories have had a Tax Commission which wants to introduce a new 30p band in-between the 20p and 40p bands. This failed on the first hurdle of what it was meant to be for: tax neutrality, increases or decreases. Read the rest of this entry »

The Herald and Rangers FC:

Noise annoys and listening for the Sounds of Silence

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, February 3rd 2016

A series of illuminating conflicts in the last week – the Graham Spiers sacking from ‘The Herald’ and the J.K. Rowling/Natalie McGarry argument on twitter – show something revealing about modern Scotland.

Spiers sacking from the paper, along with Angela Haggerty’s from the ‘Sunday Herald’, brought up numerous issues. One immediate issue was where power lay in the newspaper group – with open disagreement emerging between ‘The Herald’ and ‘Sunday Herald’ editors. More fundamentally it touched upon the legacy of ‘The Herald’ as one of the traditional bastions of unionist establishment Scotland, and the continued toxic issue of Rangers FC.

The Rowling/McGarry case saw the SNP MP challenge Rowling to condemn the anonymous twitter account of ‘Brian Spanner’ (who has a track record of online abuse) who the author had called a ‘good man’ for donating to her charity. Rowling stood her ground and asked McGarry to show where she had ever colluded or condoned any misogynist or hateful tweet. No answer came from McGarry who went silent and then apologised. Read the rest of this entry »

The Last Days of the Old BBC Scotland

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, January 20th 2016

These are turbulent times for the BBC. The patrician age of benign liberal paternalism and enlightened elites knowing what is best for us, unquestioned and unchallenged, have long since passed.

We have now swung to the other end of the spectrum. Not a day seems to go by without the BBC being criticised from somewhere. The ‘Daily Mail’, ‘Daily Telegraph’ and Murdoch press conduct a never-ending war undermining the Beeb’s status – questioning the legitimacy of the licence fee and what they see as its dominant market position.

The toxic right want to destroy the BBC, but the left stopped being enamoured decades ago, and in Scotland all of this is added to by the experience of the indyref. Many respected voices feel that the BBC is shortchanging Scotland, and offering up an inferior service.

BBC Scotland’s problems have historical and cultural roots. The origins of a specific Scottish service were found in an age long disappeared. When the BBC high heid yins decided to allow a Broadcasting Council for Scotland in 1953 it was stacked with the great and good and chaired by the Lord Clydesmuir, formerly John Colville, unionist Secretary of State for Scotland from 1938-40. Read the rest of this entry »

Putting the Scotland into BBC Scotland

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, January 17th 2016

It has been a tough few years for the BBC – with challenges from every direction, and potshots and criticism from every quarter.

This week Tony Hall, BBC’s head, gave evidence to the Scottish Parliament alongside BBC Scotland boss Ken MacQuarrie.

Hall set out the BBC stall. Despite cuts, a range of digital possibilities and platforms were unveiled centred on the iplayer. MacQuarrie answered questions on BBC Scotland’s leaked plan for a new Scottish channel which he said ‘was never a plan’, but a set of brainstorming meetings and emails.

The BBC is in crisis. It is regularly shot at by right-wing opinion. It has long infuriated the left, and it didn’t have a good independence referendum, alienating a whole swathe of Scotland. Read the rest of this entry »

The Phoney War in British and Scottish Politics Will End Soon

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, January 10th 2016

The big news this week wasn’t the Corbyn re-shuffle of people no one had heard of. Nor was it Cameron’s retreat on the Euro referendum over Cabinet collective responsibility. And it certainly wasn’t Donald Trump threatening to pull future investments from Scotland.

Nor was it the hostile words between Saudi Arabia and Iran or continued anxieties about terrorism. Instead, it was instability in the world economy, Chinese economic wobbles, their currency devaluing again and stock market falling by 7%, contributing to a mind-blowing £2.5 trillion being wiped off world markets in a matter of days.

While these turbulent economic storms blow over our heads, British and Scottish politics are strangely becalmed, focused on the small stuff, and seemingly unaware of choppy times ahead.

The Conservative Party has mastered the art of success for more than 150 years. George Osborne this week emphasised that austerity wasn’t over and people couldn’t just start spending the proceeds of growth.

In the real world, the economic recovery is fragile and unbalanced based on personal consumption, spiraling household debt, property prices and the biggest Balance of Payments deficit in UK history. London house prices sit at an ‘average’ £531,000: more unsustainable than the Blair/Brown ‘bubble’ of fantasyland Britain. Read the rest of this entry »