Posts Tagged ‘Scottish Unionism’

George Robertson and the Scots’ Crisis of Unionism

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, April 16th 2014

Something seems to be seriously wrong in the pro-union campaign, ‘Better Together’.

They may still be ahead in the polls, but the gap has narrowed significantly. Two years of dire warnings about the perils of ‘separatism’ and ‘tearing Scotland out the United Kingdom’ have only exposed the threadbare, tetchy character of the pro-union argument so far.

In November last year ‘The Economist’ declared the referendum won for the union; now it reflects on the ‘teflon’ qualities of Scottish nationalism, and the incessant ‘pessimism’ of the pro-union side. Beyond George Robertson’s dire warnings of ‘cataclysmic’ geo-political consequences and ‘the forces of darkness’ a sea change is happening in Scotland which will have an impact long after the referendum. Read the rest of this entry »

Sceptical Scotland needs to be listened to and respected

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, April 9th 2014

There are many Scotlands – generational, by social background, interests, opinions and beliefs.

One Scotland that tends to get overlooked is the thoughtful, but sceptical part of our nation – not Yes but not completely No – who look on with bewilderment and an element of confusion at much of what passes for public debate. We owe it to ourselves to reach out and to understand this Scotland.

Refrains heard recently from this group include, ‘When will this be over’ and ‘When will it ever end’. What does this sense of wariness and resignation signify? Part of it must be an understandable revulsion from the official politics/media ‘civil war without the guns’. But something else is at work which can be summarised as a contest between the Scotland of myth – of our society as a comfortable, centre-left place versus the potential of this debate to demythologise and challenge these myths. That is uncomfortable for some.

Second, there is for some doubt about the Scottish Government prospectus on independence, summarised in the view, ‘I distrust the bright, shiny, optimistic take on independence being put forward’. Read the rest of this entry »

The Big Question: Who ‘Lost’ Scotland?

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, March 12th 2014

The independence debate is a product of Scotland changing over decades and generations. Subsequently, this debate has also accelerated and abetted change, challenging old assumptions and throwing light on parts of our public life never previously thoroughly examined.

This transformation will continue whatever the result. One big observation, which needs to be stated, is that whatever the referendum result independence has already won. And Scotland has already been ‘lost’ – a point understood by some of the more thoughtful pro-union observers such as Alex Massie and James Forsyth in ‘The Spectator’.

First, what do I mean by stating that independence has already ‘won’? For a start this does not translate into any automatic balance of forces in the referendum ballot – a point some pro-independent supporters thought I meant when I previously made this strategic observation.

Instead, independence has become normalised – which translates into it coming in from the cold and margins and becoming a mainstream political demand. That’s a massive, generational shift compared to where we were previously. Read the rest of this entry »

The Battle for Britain and Why Alex Salmond and Independence Has Already Won

Gerry Hassan

Open Democracy, February 7th 2014

This year is witnessing several battles for Britain – of numerous anniversaries of past military triumphs, of the Scottish independence referendum, and the rising tide of the Tory Party’s continued obsession with Europe.

All of these are inter-related in the long-term, almost existential, crisis of what Britain is, what is it for, what kind of society and values it represents, and what kind of future it offers its people. This tumultuous moment we now find ourselves in is one with many layers: economic, social, democratic, and even geo-political (in where Britain aspires to ally itself internationally).

The Scottish independence referendum is fascinating and not a narrow or arid constitutional debate, but influenced by these wider concerns. Revealingly, to most of the London political classes it is seen as marginal, disconnected from their concerns, of episodic interest, and discounted (as they already assess they have won), as noted by Alex Massie in his front cover piece in this week’s ‘Spectator’ (1). Read the rest of this entry »

Unionists, come out and declare your ‘nationalism’

Gerry Hassan

The Scotsman, August 10th 2013

The story is familiar: there is a pesky, partisan, immature nationalism out and about influencing our body politic.

This is the account of Scottish nationalism put forward by a range of commentators and public figures. Yet it could as easily be articulated about the ideas of unionism because unionism is at its heart a form of nationalism – British state nationalism.

Scottish nationalism has its faults and limitations. It is cautious, conservative and shaped by the characteristics of the society from which it was born. It is also a nationalism, but at least it understands itself as such and is seen as such a phenomenon by everyone.

Unionism doesn’t comprehend that it is a nationalism. It is an obvious point when you think about it. What state does unionism declare its allegiance and loyalty to above all else? The British state. Yet unionism is in denial that it is such a thing as nationalism; it thinks nationalism is about others and not about itself. Read the rest of this entry »