Posts Tagged ‘Scottish Review’
Whatever happens, Britain has already left the building
Scottish Review, June 22nd 2016
The UK has already left Europe. It never really joined in any real sense.
National debates like this reveals much about the psyche of a country, and how it sees its collective hopes and fears. For one, it illuminates a lot about the ghosts of the past that haunt a country. In the Scottish indyref, for example, a great deal of this focused on the perceived legacy of Thatcherism and deindustrialisation.
In this European debate, the ghosts seemingly ever-present are those of the spectre of German dominance of the continent and the dark empire of the Nazis, Hitler and World War Two. Further proof, if it were needed, that this has a vice-like grip on the British imagination, was given by the recent controversy over anti-Semitism sparked by Ken Livingstone, which revolved around Hitler’s relationship with Zionism, lacking any sensitivity or interest in historical accuracy.
The 1975 referendum campaign, 41 years ago and 30 years after World War Two, had little to no references to the Nazis and Hitler. People were too close then to the horrendous, murderous events of the war, and careful to not appear tactless or make offensive comparisons. Read the rest of this entry »
The Historic Tragedy of Jo Cox and the European Referendum Campaign
Scottish Review, June 21st 2016
Sometimes we should struggle to find the appropriate words. This is such a time and moment. A campaign that has already reached new lows plummeted to depths previously unimaginable with the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox.
Two thoughts. First, this is a much more exceptional tragedy than commentary has so far stated. The killing of Jo Cox is rightly said to be the first murder of a British MP since Ian Gow at the hands of the IRA in 1990.
Historically, eight MPs have been murdered in the history of the UK – six at the hands of the IRA/INLA and Irish Republicans. This underlines the unique awfulness of the death of Cox. She is the first national politician to be killed – other than by Irish Republicans – since Spencer Perceval who was assassinated in the House of Commons whilst Prime Minister in 1812. Read the rest of this entry »
What Future is there for Young Working Class Scotland?
Scottish Review, June 15th 2016
There is something about Scots and class, and in particular about working class identities.
Many Scots define themselves when given a choice as working class, yet in terms of occupations and status, on any definition, a majority would be categorised as middle class. Interestingly, in some surveys, a majority of such middle class people reject this term, and call themselves working class (one survey a decade ago saying that 52% of middle class people identified as working class).
Some of this is history, tradition and culture. It is intertwined with perceptions of where ‘we’ collectively have come from, and where we have ended up – the effect of Thatcherism, huge economic and social changes, and the winners and losers of the last 30 years. Read the rest of this entry »
The SNP, Centre-Left Politics and the State of Social Democracy
Scottish Review, June 8th 2016
One party stands head and shoulders above all others in Scotland – namely, the Scottish National Party. It has got there through its own efforts, hard work and virtues, along with the numerous mistakes and weaknesses of its opponents. Scottish Labour’s long car crash was part tragedy, part comedy, but mostly of its own making. If it ever has an obituary written, it will say: ‘died at its own hands’. The Scottish Tories have been toxic for a generation, even seen as unScottish and ‘alien’, a phenomenon only slowly beginning to change.
This then begs the question: nine years into office, what do the SNP and Nicola Sturgeon stand for? What kind of Scotland do they wish to bring about, bar one that is independent and self-governing? For some these latter qualities are enough, based for them on principle, but for many they are abstracts which need further detail, and should be the means to an end of wider economic and social change, not an end in itself.
In many respects, a large part of the last nine years of the SNP in office have been the years of light lifting, considering the disarray and weaknesses of their opponents. It has been easy to point the finger at ‘London Labour’, even worse ‘Red Tories’, and of course, the grip of Westminster. Things aren’t always going to be so easy: opponents will be less incompetent, incumbents make mistakes, more powers are coming to the Parliament, and a decade of public spending cuts will take their toll. Read the rest of this entry »
Does Glasgow have a chip on the shoulder?
Scottish Review, June 1st 2016
Glasgow is not Scotland. For most of its history it has seen itself as bigger than the nation that hosts it – looking out to Transatlantic trade and commerce routes, and linked to the world through shipbuilding and human connections.
Since the early 19th century Glasgow has seen itself as a ‘Big City’ – even though it is now half the size it was at its peak, in the mid-1950s. This bigness is about swagger, attitude (both good and bad), and having a sense of importance. It isn’t an accident that outside of London the most written about and talked about UK city is Glasgow – a veritable ‘Glasgow industry’.
‘No other city in Britain carries the same resonances, the same baggage of expectations and preconceptions’, wrote travel writer Charles Jennings about Glasgow. That has a good side in the attachment and pride people feel for the place, but also a darker one where there is a constant feeling of being slighted, of not having your due place acknowledged, or being at the end of middle class conspiracies from high heid yins in Edinburgh or perfidious Albion. Read the rest of this entry »