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Posts Tagged ‘Scottish society’

Sorry seems to be the hardest word in Scotland

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, May 17th 2017

Power and privilege seldom likes to have to openly reflect on its place in front of others.

Instead, power likes to present its position as a natural state of affairs – to just be, manifesting and imbuing a sense of its own importance. This is how power exerts and expresses itself, from the City of London to senior bankers and the forces of international capitalism.

The same is true of Scotland and in recent years this has been aided by, in significant areas, power being in flux, challenged and even in crisis. This has in places forced it to openly talk about itself and hence its position. Examples of this include Royal Bank of Scotland after the crash, the Catholic Church and its serial scandals, or the implosion of CBI Scotland in the indyref.

Across a number of public institutions a common pattern can be observed about the way power and privilege operate when they are challenged. The three different examples chosen to illustrate this are one traditional force which imploded (Glasgow Rangers FC), one body which has played a central role in society (BBC Scotland), and another which has relatively recently become one of Scotland’s dominant institutions (the SNP). Read the rest of this entry »

When were the Swinging Scottish Sixties?

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, March 22nd 2017

The 1960s are referenced throughout the world as a period of immense change, hope, protest and turbulence.

There were ‘the winds of change’ of decolonisation, Latin American revolts and rebellions, the Chinese cultural revolution, upsurges in Paris and Prague, Biafra, the disastrous American military intervention in Vietnam and resultant protest movement in the US and worldwide.

What though did the sixties really represent? In the UK the sixties began with Philip Larkin and the trial of D.H. Lawrence’s ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’; in the US they were augmented by the assassination of JFK in Dallas in 1963. In both there was a shared moment – in early 1963 in the UK, and February 1964 in the US, with the arrival of the Beatles then morphing into a musical and cultural phenomenon the world had never seen before: Beatlemania.

In the UK this aided the overthrowing of the stuffy last remnants of Victoriania, the long shadow of the Second World War, and class-bound high culture. This was epitomised in John Lennon’s now seemingly innocent remark at the Royal Variety Performance in November 1963 in front of the Queen Mother that ‘the people in the cheaper seats, clap your hands. And the rest of you, if you’d just rattle your jewelry’. This was a national moment, shown on TV and immortalised in the press. Read the rest of this entry »

Remembering childhood holidays in Scotland and my first venture into politics

Gerry Hassan

July 20th 2016

Everybody’s first experiences of summer holidays are always likely to be special – tinged with evocative memories and memorable moments.

My earliest recollection of a summer holiday was the sojourn from Dundee to Girvan in 1969, just before I went to primary school. This trip involved my dad’s light green coloured Volkswagen Beetle; the experience of which left me with a deep-seated affection for such cars.

It was the only family holiday on which my maternal granny, Flo (who my mum never got on with all her adult life) also came along. I was too young to pick up any antagonisms between the two, such were the diversions of the Girvan beach and making sandcastles. But it was also my first ever experience of staying in a hotel, and one which overlooked the sea, and the mightily impressive Ailsa Craig.

I cannot remember anything else about the accommodation bar the view, but I do recall clearly two moments of the break. One was going to Souter Johnnie’s cottage in Kirkoswald, Ayrshire, and being trapped in the garden with the statues when the place closed for the day. My parents, like David Cameron once, took a few minutes to realise they were missing a child, even though they only had one, and in that short time, I was petrified that the statues were going to come alive. Read the rest of this entry »

The Herald and Rangers FC:

Noise annoys and listening for the Sounds of Silence

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, February 3rd 2016

A series of illuminating conflicts in the last week – the Graham Spiers sacking from ‘The Herald’ and the J.K. Rowling/Natalie McGarry argument on twitter – show something revealing about modern Scotland.

Spiers sacking from the paper, along with Angela Haggerty’s from the ‘Sunday Herald’, brought up numerous issues. One immediate issue was where power lay in the newspaper group – with open disagreement emerging between ‘The Herald’ and ‘Sunday Herald’ editors. More fundamentally it touched upon the legacy of ‘The Herald’ as one of the traditional bastions of unionist establishment Scotland, and the continued toxic issue of Rangers FC.

The Rowling/McGarry case saw the SNP MP challenge Rowling to condemn the anonymous twitter account of ‘Brian Spanner’ (who has a track record of online abuse) who the author had called a ‘good man’ for donating to her charity. Rowling stood her ground and asked McGarry to show where she had ever colluded or condoned any misogynist or hateful tweet. No answer came from McGarry who went silent and then apologised. Read the rest of this entry »

The Last Days of the Old BBC Scotland

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, January 20th 2016

These are turbulent times for the BBC. The patrician age of benign liberal paternalism and enlightened elites knowing what is best for us, unquestioned and unchallenged, have long since passed.

We have now swung to the other end of the spectrum. Not a day seems to go by without the BBC being criticised from somewhere. The ‘Daily Mail’, ‘Daily Telegraph’ and Murdoch press conduct a never-ending war undermining the Beeb’s status – questioning the legitimacy of the licence fee and what they see as its dominant market position.

The toxic right want to destroy the BBC, but the left stopped being enamoured decades ago, and in Scotland all of this is added to by the experience of the indyref. Many respected voices feel that the BBC is shortchanging Scotland, and offering up an inferior service.

BBC Scotland’s problems have historical and cultural roots. The origins of a specific Scottish service were found in an age long disappeared. When the BBC high heid yins decided to allow a Broadcasting Council for Scotland in 1953 it was stacked with the great and good and chaired by the Lord Clydesmuir, formerly John Colville, unionist Secretary of State for Scotland from 1938-40. Read the rest of this entry »

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