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Posts Tagged ‘Scottish Review’

The Day Britain Died: Brexit, Trump and Scottish Independence

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, February 15th 2017

Last week a Rubicon was crossed as the House of Commons voted 494 to 122 – a government majority of 372 – to give a third reading to triggering Article 50.

Just as seriously on the same day – Wednesday February 8th 2017 – the UK Government reneged on its promise to take 3,000 child refugees (what was called the Dubs amendment) and slashed the number to 350. If that wasn’t enough the Commons at the same time voted to refuse to offer any guarantees to EU citizens living in the UK: content to use them as pawns in a high power poker game.

It is going to be difficult for many in Scotland, and for many ‘Scottish Review’ readers, but Britain is over. There is no way back. Last week the very idea of Britain as outgoing, welcoming, doing the right thing, looking after the most vulnerable and being driven by a sense of humanity, was not only trashed but finally and fatally died.

All of this requires that we get real about the debate here and recognise that we need to be tolerant, serious and embrace detail and facts, not faith and assertion. Unless the UK does an about turn on Brexit and Scotland, indyref2 is inevitable. The only issue will be timing and context. Read the rest of this entry »

Trump, Political Violence and when is it right to punch Nazis?

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, February 8th 2017

It is a season of heated tempers and invective across the political world. One that matches the widespread atmosphere of confusion and disorientation.

This is a mood in which there are winners and losers: people who crave this kind of moment, and many who lament the passing of the previous era. Mainstream political sentiment is uncomfortable and on the defensive. But radicals of the right and left celebrate this new found chaos as a once in a lifetime opportunity. Are they right to do so, or just showing an immaturity which is self-evident across most Western societies?

The rise of the populist right – Trump, Farage, Marine Le Pen, Geert Wilders and more, has brought forth a similar angry spirit in parts of the left. It asks liberals and centre-leftists whose side are you on, invokes a new spirit of protest and resistance, and even considers (with the spectre of fascism threatening) whether, in certain circumstances, the use of violence is sometimes justified. Read the rest of this entry »

Scottish Independence has to move with the times

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, February 1st 2017

Scotland has in recent times liked to see itself as progressive, democratic and European. What’s so special about that you might think? A bit like apple pie and being kind to animals. But these undoubtedly mainstream values were rightly seen as increasingly at odds with the direction of the UK in the last few decades. The UK wasn’t any of these things and this has become even more pronounced and obvious post-Brexit vote.

The Scottish case for these three qualities in 2014 was about something more than their individual characteristics. Instead, they weaved together into a story about Scotland as a modern nation – unlike the seemingly backward, reactionary UK – and presented a picture of a normal country which aspired to be part of the European mainstream. All of this suggested that independence was the natural state of affairs, the direction of travel and the future – whereas the UK was the problem and the past.

However, it was even clear in the midst of the 2014 campaign that there was a problem with these aspirations. Scotland had come to them late in the day of their development. Thus, we aspired to be ‘progressive’ and social democratic, when this tradition has been in retreat and crisis for decades, including within the Nordics. Read the rest of this entry »

Despite Trump and Brexit there are still Reasons to be Cheerful

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, January 26th 2017

A haunting refrain echoes around the globe. The world, many emphatically say, has gone to pot what with Trump, Brexit, terrorism, ISIS, the march of the far right, fake news, alternative facts and more.

This miserablist take on modern times has a familiar refrain in Britain. It states that the country has gone in entirely the wrong direction these last 30 to 40 years. ‘Margaret Thatcher / poll tax / Tony Blair / Iraq war’ has become a spellbinding, intoxicating description of recent British history for many.

These appear dark times. There are numerous threats and challenges. When the British public were asked in 2015 if the world was getting better or worse, 71% answered worse, a mere 5% better, with 18% saying it hasn’t changed. Similar findings can be found in the US and most Western countries.

Then there is the Trump phenomenon that isn’t going well. However, it isn’t clear how much of a political black swan he is, compared to a potential harbinger of a dystopian future. But even in the week after the ascendancy of Trump to the US Presidency, everything isn’t falling apart whether globally or in the UK. Read the rest of this entry »

Could Scotland really be reduced to the status of a region?

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, January 18th 2017

When did present day Scotland begin? Not the ‘modern’ Scotland of post-war times, or the upside and then downside of Labour Scotland. But the land that we visibly live in today – shaped by the ghosts of industries long gone and the sins and excesses of Thatcher and Blair.

The conventional answer is 1979: the ‘Year Zero’ of Scottish sensibilities when, for many, the world was turned upside down with election of the Thatcher Government and the stalled first devolution referendum.

However, that is the view in retrospect. Thatcher didn’t unambiguously represent Thatcherism in 1979. Interestingly, most of Scotland’s non-Tory politicians and mainstream media didn’t represent it then the way we do now. For example ‘The Herald’ and ‘The Scotsman’ choose to interpret Thatcher’s first UK victory not in terms of the Scottish national dimension, but in British conventional left and right terms (neither of which were then as wedded to the constitutional debate as now).

In reality present day Scotland started somewhere between 1983 and 1987 – between the second Thatcher victory, the invention of the poll tax in 1985-86, and the third Thatcher victory in 1987: ‘the Doomsday scenario’ as it was called (meaning Scotland voted more Labour, but got a Tory Government based on English votes). Read the rest of this entry »

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