Posts Tagged ‘Scottish politics’

The Nationalist Lion Roars at Westminster!

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, July 19th 2015

The times are changing in Scotland and Britain: the SNP impact at Westminster; Tory maneouvres to hurt, harm and trap Labour on union reform and welfare, and the vacuum of Labour and Lib Dems post-election defeat.

The SNP scored early blood on fox-hunting and English votes for English laws – forcing government postponement on the first and regrouping and redrafting on the second. This has produced Tory anger and fury at the Nationalists, and eventually see the Tories attempt to get their revenge.

A significant part of the SNP’s impact has been due to the marginalising of the Labour and Lib Dem opposition, both parties licking their wounds and without leaderships for the last two months. The Lib Dems have rectified that this week, electing Tim Farron. Labour’s contest has shown the nadir the party has fallen to, and the dullness of the three mainstream candidates: all of which has produced the unlikely summer sensation of Jeremy Corbyn’s sudden rise in popularity. Read the rest of this entry »

Making the Debate on More Scottish Powers Real

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, July 5th 2015

Another week has seen more turbulence and uncertainty across Europe, north Africa and the Middle East. The unprecedented Greek vote on European Union intransigence will, whatever its outcome, have huge continental implications.

In this frenetic period, what have Scottish politics been dominated by, since the May general election? From nearly every corner and political persuasion – from the SNP to Labour, Tories, Lib Dems and Greens – the incessant talk has been of ‘more powers’ and whether the Smith Commission and ‘the Vow’ is being implemented in full, watered down, or even worse, betrayed.

Full Fiscal Autonomy (FFA) is impenetrable to most people. It involves huge and contested sums of monies. It is about projections into the future. In a culture and politics, where most people are confused by the difference between ‘debt’ and ‘deficit’, and are unsure what ‘austerity’ means, that isn’t surprising. Read the rest of this entry »

Clearing the Scottish Fog of War

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, June 28th 2015

This has been a momentous news week. The Greek crisis; Britain and Europe; the human desperation at Calais; and the related tragedy in the Mediterranean.

While this has been going on Scotland has had its own mini-ripples which pale in comparison. There was the controversy over Royal Family funding and the Crown Estate in Scotland, and at the same time, the ongoing problem of cybernat abuse and social media misbehaviour.

The Royal story saw a whole range of UK papers run front-page headlines stating ‘Scotland to cancel funding for Queen’ and ‘Scots won’t pay £2m bill for Queen.’ The most over the top came from the London ‘Times’ which in an editorial entitled ‘Insurrection’, claimed that the Scottish Government was leading a ‘rebellion’.

Trouble was no such story existed. The papers had been victims of a Buckingham Palace media operation to flush out the SNP on changes to the Sovereign Fund – what the Civil List is now called. In so doing, they seemed to believe what they wanted to and confused a number of basic facts – such as the fundamental difference between the Sovereign Fund and the Crown Estate. Read the rest of this entry »

The Rise and Fall of the House of Scottish Labour

Gerry Hassan

June 22nd 2015

The story of the Scottish Labour Party was, until recently, one of the defining stories of Scotland over most of the 20th century.

First there was its rise – the emergence of ‘Red Clydeside’ and the socialist pioneers, and how radicalism gave way to respectability. Second, there was the ‘golden era’ of action and purpose – of Tom Johnston, and the big ideas and schemes, which began to fade as Labour morphed in the 1960s and 1970s into the political establishment. And finally, there has been the slow decline of the party, which accelerated in recent reverses to the SNP – most spectacularly, the near complete wipeout at the May 2015 general election.

A month and a half after the SNP triumph and Labour rout, which historian Tom Devine called Labour’s ‘Culloden’ (1), there is still an inability on all sides, victors and vanquished, to come to terms with the new landscape. There are still missing stories and voices. On the most basic level, politicians are human beings first and politicians second. A whole host of Labour politicians taken out in May are going through various stages of shock, bewilderment, even anger – equivalent to coming to terms with bereavement.

It isn’t a surprise then, that in the immediate aftermath, a number of Labour MPs who lost their seats just took themselves out of public life. For BBC Scotland’s documentary, ‘The Fall of Scottish Labour’ (2) shown tonight, in which I am interviewed, several former senior politicians including Jim Murphy, Douglas Alexander and Margaret Curran refused to be involved, intimating that it was just too early. Read the rest of this entry »

The Greek Crisis matters to Scotland, Britain and Europe – as well as Greece

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, June 21st 2015

Europe is not a happy place.

The European Union has failed to agree a common stance on the human disaster of Mediterranean immigrants, while Vladimir Putin has used military aggression to alter the boundaries of Russia and Ukraine and annex Crimea, as Europe has stood by.

Closer to home, Britain is preparing for a referendum on whether or not to continue its EU membership – the first full member state to ever do so. And then most seriously, there is the continuing Greek crisis.

The EU has been through financial crises in recent times – from Portugal and Spain to Ireland – but the Greek one is the most serious yet. Current betting odds on whether Greece will leave the euro, the ‘Grexit’, have narrowed dramatically. Read the rest of this entry »