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Posts Tagged ‘Scottish Review’

Living the High Life and Post-War Dream in Dundee

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, June 28th 2017

In the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower tragedy tower blocks and social housing are everywhere in the news.

Much of it has been ill-informed, instant commentary. People asserting that tower blocks aren’t suited to modern living or making sweeping statements about the failings of council and social housing, A large part of this seemed to be a displacement or discomfort of middle class opinion having to talk about a forgotten and neglected section of the country, and confront the living conditions of large numbers of poor people.

Housing is a topical subject. Long neglected by the British political classes it has become a social and generational scandal – one that has overlooked millions of people, and in particular, younger people, from owning or renting a decent home. It is all a far cry from the Thatcherite hubris of a ‘property owning democracy’ in the 1980s: a phrase which came of age in the 1950s and which was invented by the Scottish Tory Noel Skelton in the 1920s. Read the rest of this entry »

The Limits of the Ruth Davidson Show

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, June 21st 2017

These are times of change. An election that shocked. Parties in crisis. And a world which never seems to stop in terms of news, surprises and tragedy.

Scotland isn’t immune to this. But one take as we come up for two weeks after the election has been that the Tories are back and that this is all due to the appeal of Ruth Davidson. And then there is the secondary story of Scottish Labour showing that it isn’t dead, and has possibly even come off the ropes, prepared to fight and hope again.

The Scottish Tories are seen as on the way up and even having UK impact and influence. Scottish Labour are now talked about as possibly having a future and not written off as a complete basket case. Read the rest of this entry »

A new era of Scottish politics has begun:

The Forward March of the SNP Halted?

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, June 14th 2017

There was a UK election last week. We have the semblance of a UK Government, but underneath all this there remains little that could be called British politics.

This was a four nations UK election. Each gave a different party a conditional victory. The SNP were the most popular party in Scotland with 36.9% of the vote. The Tories were the biggest force in England with 45.6%. Labour were by far the strongest party in Wales with 48.9%, while in Northern Ireland the now famous Democratic Unionists won 36.0% of the vote.

This election showed that the concerns of England are centre-stage but, as is often the case, are assumed to be that of the wider UK. Often this comes down to a tiny slither of London with a vague concept of ‘the North’ added on occasionally. Scotland was, as is traditionally the case in Westminster elections, virtually squeezed out of the media – returned to the box marked ‘miscellaneous’ after the excitement and promise of 2014 and 2015. ‘You have had your coverage now’ the Westminster broadcasters will think if the subject ever enters their heads. Read the rest of this entry »

Scotching the Myths of Modern Scotland

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, June 7th 2017

Cultures and nations live by myths. This has been so since the dawn of civilisation and has never been more apparent in recent weeks, in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Manchester and London that have so dominated the first half of 2017 in Britain and the UK general election.

The popular slogan invoking the spirit of the Blitz and World War Two – ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ – embodies how the British like to see themselves when under pressure. There is stoicism, a determination to continue with everyday life, and a quiet patriotism that is more about what makes people proud of this country than feeling superior to others.

This of course is part of the foundation story of Britain of the UK standing alone in the past and future – apart from Europe – and drawing from a seamless thread of uninterrupted British history. Never mind the facts. It doesn’t matter that there was an English Civil War in the 17th century, that the UK only took its name in 1801, or that its current legal name (the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) is a mere ninety years old, defined in law in 1927 after Ireland left in 1922. All nations and states have similar stories, selective memories, and deliberate remembering of some things and forgetting of others. Read the rest of this entry »

A World of Borders, Space and Culture: A Tribute to Roanne Dods

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, May 31st 2017

Much of modern life is shaped by the chasm between the official narratives of institutions, authority and experts and how most of us experience everyday life.

This is obvious in the bizarre experience of Britain and Scotland’s current election – one which is consuming the attentions of the political classes and its hangers-on, but which is bemusing and infuriating most of the rest of us. Don’t switch-off now. This isn’t another piece about the election and how awful it is. Instead, I want to take a journey into what it is that makes us human, the imagination and how we interact with each other.

Last weekend I went to a tribute to my friend and colleague Roanne Dods who recently passed away at the age of 51 after a battle with cancer. Many of you reading this may not have heard of her. She was a Scottish-based cultural maker of things – connections, exchanges, spaces, projects, interventions and insights. She had previously run the Jerwood Charitable Foundation arts body in London, and returned to Scotland several years ago to work on a range of projects. Read the rest of this entry »

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