Posts Tagged ‘Scottish Review’

Where is the Jeremy Corbyn Labour Party revolution going to end?

Gerry Hassan

Scotttish Review, September 29th 2016

Jeremy Corbyn and Labour have some major positives going for them.

He has been re-elected Labour leader with a huge majority in an election in which over half a million people voted. On the wave of a surge of excitement and engagement, Labour’s membership has risen to 650,000 – over four times that of the Tories, and representing the largest political party in all Europe.

On top of that Jeremy Corbyn is clearly a different kind of politician. He is untainted by the Blair years, numerous wars or parliamentary sleaze. All of this counts for something.

Yet saying all of the above the party faces huge challenges which cannot be wished away. Its electoral prospects are currently dire and going backward, after two election defeats. What it stands for is unclear or vague beyond the most generalist sentiments and platitudes, with no evidence of major economic policies or ideas emerging from the Corbyn leadership in the last year. And the party leadership has no real idea what to do with all the enthusiasm and anticipation it has unleashed.

The recent leadership contest was the perfect anecdote for Corbyn and his allies: it turned Corbyn back into the insurgent who won in 2015, and allowed him to run on an anti-establishment ticket. It brought people flocking in their droves into the party, further galvinised Momentum (the pro-Corbyn grass roots group), but it begs the question – what now? It isn’t easy to turn that energy outwards to the country because everything in argument, message and tone would have to be different. Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

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