Posts Tagged ‘Scottish politics’

The European Debate has only just begun for Scotland and the UK

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, November 15th 2015

Europe has returned to the centre of British politics. The phony war within the Tories is over as David Cameron revealed his want list from European leaders.

It wasn’t exactly long or substantial. He wants change in four areas – exempting the UK from ‘ever closer union’, boosting economic competitiveness, protection of the non-euro countries from further integration, and restrictions on EU migrants drawing UK benefits.

These requests are not far-reaching, leading Tory MP Bernard Jenkin to ask ‘is that it?’ and others dismiss them as a ‘rag bag’. Only the last negotiating point is going to cause Cameron problems. But the debate and referendum won’t be about these small details. Read the rest of this entry »

If Independence is a State of Mind then we have to fundamentally change

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, November 8th 2015

Years ago the dream was that the Scottish Parliament would usher in a new politics.

It was going to be different from adversarial Westminster – consensual, caring, thoughtful, leading to better debates and laws.

Much of this was wish-fulfillment. There has always been mutual scorn between Labour and SNP – aided by the fetishisation of tiny differences, given they agree on so much. But in recent years all of this seems to have got worse. And the last week in particular, was a new low.

In the previous seven days, Labour and SNP crossed swords on the replacement of the UK nuclear ‘deterrent’ Trident. Scottish Labour debated the issue at their conference for the first time since 1998 and came to the same result – opposing nuclear weapons and voting for disarmament. Read the rest of this entry »

Will the Real Scottish Labour Party Finally Stand Up?

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, November 1st 2015

Scottish Labour met this weekend. This used to be the key political gathering in Scotland. No longer. But the party is in better spirits than many would think after the May 2015 wipeout.

It is a party changing. It has a new leader. Lots of new members. And more autonomy after a ‘concordat’ was signed last Monday with British leader Jeremy Corbyn.

The party hopes that the tide is turning against the SNP and that its Teflon quality and Sturgeonmania have finally peaked.

If Labour is to come back from its wilderness years, it has to understand why it has ended up where it has – when it once seemed so powerful? It has to ask why do Scots not trust or listen to Labour? And what, realistically, can the party do to change all this? Read the rest of this entry »

‘English Votes’ is political vandalism and fundamentally changes Britain

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, October 25th 2015

This week the United Kingdom profoundly changed in how it does politics, democracy and how Parliament operates.

The House of Commons decided by 312 to 270 voters to alter the nature of its composition by differentiating the voting rights of MPs through introducing English votes for English laws. Meaning that – for English-only matters and legislation – Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish MPs will be excluded from a new ‘grand committee’ stage of the bill – which effectively replaces the substantive second reading of a bill.

Why has this happened now and why does it matter? Much of this debate isn’t actually very new. These issues were first raised in the late 19th century when Irish home rule was proposed by Gladstone, and in response, qualifying the rights of MPs was raised; then often called ‘In/Out voting’.

The tipping point was Scotland’s independence referendum. David Cameron announced the next morning that ‘the voices of England must be heard’ and interpreting this as ‘English votes for English laws.’ Read the rest of this entry »

The SNP cannot afford to become the Party of the Status Quo

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, October 18th 2015

The SNP is understandably in good spirit.

This is the sort of times that politicians dream of. In the aftermath of the indyref, the SNP has gone from strength to strength, winning 56 out of 59 Westminster seats in May, and looking certain to retain and even strengthen their parliamentary majority at Holyrood next year.

Despite this the SNP leadership feels it has to negotiate a careful line. First, talk about a second indyref has been effectively banned in public. Even openly reflecting on why last year’s referendum was lost has been officially discouraged.

Second, as one insider said, its intended focus is on ‘Holyrood 3, not indyref 2’ – with the aim on a historic SNP third term. That should mean discussing domestic policy and the government’s record. But given the rising criticism of some of that – in educational attainment, health, Police Scotland and local government for example – little seems to be getting put forward beyond general mood music of ‘keeping public services public’, ‘standing up for Scotland’ and opposing ‘Tory austerity’. Read the rest of this entry »