Posts Tagged ‘Scottish politics’

One Year on from the IndyRef: Making the Scotland of the Future

Gerry Hassan

Open Democracy, September 2nd 2015

Scottish public life has dramatically changed in recent times – the SNP 2011 first landslide, the independence referendum, and the 2015 tartan tsunami.

Yet Scotland, like everywhere, is about more than politics. In this and other areas there have been huge changes, but also continuity and conservatism, the balance of which we are still trying to make sense of, and with huge consequences for the future of Scotland and the UK.

Take the indyref. It didn’t come from nowhere. It came in the context of wider change in Scotland – of the decline of the traditional establishment and the old unionist order, and of the potent culture of deference, authority and of people knowing their place which for so long hung over large aspects of society.

The indyref changed many things. But it has become a well-worn cliché to say it has changed everything. What it has done is act simultaneously as a spike, watershed and a catalyst to further change in public life. It will take years to establish the balance between these different forces and, nearly a year after the vote, the pattern of these different dynamics and their impact is still evolving. Read the rest of this entry »

Can Radical Scotland find its Voice? And if so could it be RISE?

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, August 30th 2015

This weekend a new force in the Scottish political scene emerged – RISE – standing for Respect, Independence, Socialism and Environmentalism.

What do we need a new political force for, you may ask? We already have a crowded political landscape. And why do we need another pro-independence one? At last count there were already four: SNP, Scottish Greens, Scottish Socialists and Solidarity.

RISE, in case anyone thinks otherwise, has no connection to George Galloway (he is another kind of Respect) and certainly has none with former MSP Tommy Sheridan, who now has his own one-man show with Solidarity.

RISE emerged from the impetus of the Radical Independence Campaign (RIC) that had a significant impact in the independence referendum – and is an alliance of the Scottish Left Project with the non-Sheridan remains of the Scottish Socialist Party. Read the rest of this entry »

Kezia, Jezza and Indy: Where are the Big Ideas of the Next Scotland?

Gerry Hassan

This week the SNP hit a new high mark in the polls – 62% for next year’s Scottish elections. Elsewhere Kezia Dugdale was elected Scottish Labour leader as the Jeremy Corbyn bandwagon came to much acclaim north of the border.

What do you with popularity? It is a question politicians seldom have to answer. The nearest equivalent to the SNP now is Blair’s New Labour – which, less we forget, was once hugely popular.

There is the question of where opposition comes from and what form it takes? The same poll – with the SNP on 62% – put Labour on 20%, Tories on 12% and Lib Dems on 3%. These are the three great parties of pre-SNP Scotland and each is now reduced to tiny, impotent rumps. All are likely to face a difficult election next year.

The Greens are doing well, there will be a new left party and even the attempted return of Tommy Sheridan, but none of these will sweep the board.

The more important challenge is what drives and shapes Scottish politics, and what, if any, are the big ideas which inhabit and inform public life? There is, of course, one indisputable big idea: independence. But this raises the issue of what kind of independence and even more crucially, independence to do what and create what sort of society? Read the rest of this entry »

Time for an Independence of the Scottish Mind

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, August 9th 2015

A second independence may be off the agenda of SNP conference for now, but Alex Salmond regards it as ‘inevitable’.

Such are the pressures and tensions of success. Where do you take a movement which came close to winning independence last September? How do you balance pragmatic and idealist hopes? What do you after the SNP ‘tartan tsunami’ of May this year which carried nearly all before it – and, when your opponents are so weak and disorientated?

There is talk in places of a second referendum sooner rather than later – of the SNP returning to it in 2016, or of a conditional clause in next year’s SNP manifesto predicated on a EU withdrawal vote in England which clashes with Scotland’s popular will.

These are tumultuous times. First, despite the referendum result, the ‘idea’ of independence won the debate last year – something very different from the SNP’s actual offer. Second, the SNP have dominated and defined the post-indyref environment and transition from Salmond to Sturgeon. They have done so by continuing the ‘Big Tent’ politics which have served them so well. Read the rest of this entry »

A People’s Revolt in Labour but where will it end?

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, August 2nd 2015

‘The Labour Party has gone mad’. ‘It has abandoned its senses’. ‘This is a summer of insanity’.

These and suchlike comments made about Jeremy Corbyn are now familiar refrains in the Westminster mainstream. Before that this disdain was targeted northwards – asking ‘has Scotland gone mad?’

Jeremy Corbyn’s rise and emergence has caught the Westminster bubble by surprise, but isn’t hard to fathom. The other three challengers are dire. What passes for Labour stars are sitting it out. Labour members are dismayed and angry at the state of the country and direction of their party. They want it to stand for something.

They want their leader to be authentic, genuine and true to the party’s traditions and history. Corbyn is the only one providing any distinctiveness and talking straight. It doesn’t matter that his political platform is a bit vague, harking back to 1983, and seems based on promising a better yesterday which is now unattainable. It is also unimplementable and unelectable. Read the rest of this entry »