Posts Tagged ‘Scottish Review’

Whatever happened to the idealism of Space: The Final Frontier?

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, September 21st 2016

All life cannot be about politics. That is a definition of tyranny and dictatorship.

In the last couple of months whilst working on some big projects I have chosen to relax late at night by watching the 1960s original TV series ‘Star Trek’.

I haven’t watched it since I was a kid in Dundee. It has proven to be a real piece of time travel taking me back to when I viewed the world in more simplistic and naïve colours.

Viewing ‘Star Trek’ now by complete accident – as the series celebrated its 50th anniversary a couple of weeks ago (it began on September 8th 1966) – has been utterly compelling and captivating. It more than stands the test of time, while raising all sorts of questions about then and now.

First and foremost, there are the characters. Captain James T. Kirk, Spock and Bones of the Starship Enterprise are almost ageless – held in a kind of limbo which only TV and becoming virtual heroes can bestow; while a great supporting cast of Scotty, Uhura, Sulu and Chekov represented a united humanity. Read the rest of this entry »

It’s Time for Dangerous Talk: Jaytalking Scotland

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, September 15th 2016

These are strange times. We are told everyday in every way by numerous experts and talking heads that this is an age of unprecedented change, uncertainty and flux. That nothing can be taken for granted.

Yet this is also an age of great conformity and conservatism; not only in mainstream politics but in large acres of what passes for popular culture – from music to novels, theatre, comedy, TV and visual arts.

Scotland fits into this pattern rather well. It has shaken the UK to near breaking point and tells itself continually it is social democratic and egalitarian, while being rather conservative in how it goes about this as well as many other things.

Our country is littered with examples of our collective conformity and lack of interest in substantive change – let alone any real radicalism. And what is telling is our lack of interest or curiosity in these discrepancies – lest they disrupt our telling ourselves how unique we are.

If Scotland were this place of radicalism wouldn’t there be a land filled with lots of examples of radicalism? Of pioneering legislation, examples of social change, and people and communities empowered? Would there not have been a shake up of one of the ultimate closed shops: the Scottish legal establishment? Or the education community? Or even senior health consultants? Public sector reform is a phrase left at the border. Read the rest of this entry »

The Rise of an English Ideology and the Joys of Reading ‘The Spectator’

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, September 8th 2016

I have long been an admirer of ‘The Spectator’. Well, why would I restrict myself to reading only that which confirms my world-view? It is good to be challenged, provoked – as well as entertained – plus the magazine gives an insight into another world (that of right-wing England) – which is influential and plays a role shaping ideas around the Tory Government.

In the last few months I have been reading ‘Spectator’ back issues for a forthcoming book and, having become more absorbed in, and familiar with, its terrain, I realise it represents something much more that I ever thought. Not only is it a key part of the right-wing alliance – which includes the ‘Daily Telegraph’ and Taxpayer’s Alliance which believes in low taxes, a minimal state and greater choice – it is also putting forward a view of Britain which can be called the English ideology.

The components part of this are first, an advocacy of ‘the Great British economic miracle’. In the view of editor Fraser Nelson this is primarily about job, jobs, jobs, and even though he didn’t approve of George Osborne and his deficit reduction and austerity, he was upbeat about the underlying nature of the economy. Don’t make the mistake of thinking any criticism of Osborne was because Fraser is a bleedin’ heart liberal; it was because the then Chancellor wasn’t hard enough on cuts and austerity. Read the rest of this entry »

Flags and Stramashs in Scotland’s Summer of Independence

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, August 24th 2016

A couple of weeks ago I was involved in one of the many online conversations about politics that now characterise Scotland. Afterwards the animated chat in the pub turned to the previous day’s pro-independence march in Glasgow.

Saltires had been there in plenty – and one person, perhaps more fully signed up to independence than the others, asked ‘Why is Scotland the only place in the world where people are told off for flying their flag?’ This was met by myself and others with incredulity, as we pointed out that all over the world flags are problematic, and not one national flag is completely uncontested.

This amiable conversation concluded with two of us saying in near-unison words to the effect: ‘We don’t want to waste time on these sorts of discussions. If we were to waste time on this sort of thing, rather than substance, we would consider voting No next time.’ Read the rest of this entry »

After Cameron, Boris and Corbyn: What will Tomorrow’s Leaders Look Like?

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, July 14th 2016

Leadership in the modern world is cited as the answer to nearly every issue, problem or area of life – from business, to turning round failing organisations, to the success of football clubs.

In the last month, political leadership has been all over the news. There has been David Cameron’s rather hasty resignation; the coronation of Theresa May as Prime Minister; and Boris Johnson’s positioning for power, withdrawal from the Tory leadership contest, and then subsequent appointment as Foreign Secretary in May’s new administration.

Then there has been Jeremy Corbyn’s continual crisis and resistance against internal party critics, alongside the onset of a Labour leadership contest. And in case anyone forgot, there is an election for the leader of the English and Welsh Greens that may see the return of Caroline Lucas; while Nigel Farage resigned for the third time as UKIP leader with, as we speak, no clear contenders to take over.

Political leadership in turbulent times requires numerous qualities. The Tories have cut down their last three Prime Ministers over the last twenty-six years on the subject of Europe – Thatcher, Major and Cameron. It is even possible that if Theresa May doesn’t get the terms of Brexit right in the eyes of some Tory obsessives, she could be the fourth and perhaps, final leader, to be so humbled. Read the rest of this entry »

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