Posts Tagged ‘Social Democracy’

The Strange Death of Liberal England Continued

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, July 30th 2014

Liberal England is in a state of confusion. There is the challenge of the Scottish independence referendum, the continued right wing drift of UK politics, and the slow detachment of the UK from the European Union.

All of the above cause apoplexy and dismay to the thinking elements of the English left. One response to this from people such as Labour MP John Cruddas and Billy Bragg is to try to re-ignite the English radical imagination and challenge the increasingly English nationalist overtones of Nigel Farage’s UKIP. A second response from the likes of Ken Loach and Owen Jones believe in the ‘Spirit of 45’ being invoked shaped by romanticism and simplistic, wishful thinking.

However, the largest group by far on the English left in intellectual circles is in denial about the state of Britain. This is not a happy or confident time to be a progressive in England, and despite the actions of thirty years of post-war Labour Governments (thirteen of them under the recent auspices of New Labour), it cannot be claimed seriously that Britain is becoming a better, fairer place. Progressive politics has given up believing that it can create the future, instead pessimistically sensing that the right have the best tunes to fit our times and laid claim to tomorrow. Read the rest of this entry »

A Time for Boldness and Honesty: 21st Century Scottish Radicalism

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, July 23rd 2014

The independence referendum has seen an explosion of radical and progressive thinking and activism. Where there was once silence and disillusion, now there is hope, excitement and imagination.

There is the generosity and pluralism of National Collective, the breadth and reach of the Radical Independence Campaign (RIC), and the energy and dynamism of the Jimmy Reid Foundation. Then there is a wider set of trends looking at how to develop a deeper democracy from the work of So Say Scotland and its Citizen’s Assembly, ‘the art of hosting’ processes, and the Electoral Reform Society’s work on deliberative democracy.

The above – with all its undoubted positives – has to be put in historical and political context, understanding the shortcomings and failures of the left generally, and the Scottish left in particular. This is an essential prerequisite if this outburst of energy and radicalism is to have a lasting effect on the Scottish body politic. Read the rest of this entry »

Can Gordon Brown and Scottish Labour Save the Union?

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, April 29th 2014

In the past week two Scottish prominent public figures with significant stature, both of whom have had major domestic and international profile, and proved ultimately that they couldn’t cut it at the top, covered the airwaves.

One was David Moyes, the short-lived manager of Manchester United, the other, former Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

The similarities don’t end there. Moyes’ reign at Manchester United was defined by the shadow of Alex Ferguson’s domestic league and European Champions League triumphs over two decades of success. Brown became Prime Minister after a decade of Blair New Labour election successes: a legacy he could neither emulate or escape.

Both were anointed by their predecessors. Brown, because Blair had no other choice, and Moyes, because Ferguson saw in him the same mixture of Glasgow grit and tenacity. Neither worked out in the way any of the main protagonists had imagined. Read the rest of this entry »

The Importance of Growing Up: Heroes and Villains in Modern Scotland

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, March 26th 2014

Who inspires and defines us in modern Scotland? Who gives us inspiration and imagination which says something about who we are, how we see ourselves, individually and collectively? Who are the heroes and, maybe just as pertinently, anti-heroes of the day?

Is Hamish Henderson’s frequently quoted line that Scotland is a land of ‘no gods and precious few heroes’ (as well as heroines) accurate? Couldn’t the opposite be said to be true?

A certain vocal strand of Scotland proudly declares its allegiance to a pantheon of heroes: Keir Hardie, James Connolly, John Maclean, James Maxton and John Wheatley. This is the left and nationalist version of Scotland evoking ‘Red Clydeside’ workerist connotations.

This is motivated by defining Scotland as a distinct political political community, providing a lineage from past to present which offers directions and what some believe is a moral compass; i.e. what would Keir Hardie have done on independence, the Iraq war or charging Tony Blair as a ‘war criminal’? Read the rest of this entry »

Does Scotland Really Want to be the Land of Equality it tells itself it is?

Gerry Hassan

The Scotsman, December 28th 2013

There  is a deeply rooted belief in Scotland that we as a society and community, prioritise and value the idea of equality.

This is something found in modern politics, and also in history, tradition and myth. From Burns and ‘We’re a’ Jock Tamson’s Bairns’ to the Declaration of Arbroath as an expression of popular sovereignty, each year these are told and reaffirmed at Christmas and New Year. This is who we are – inclusive, less individualistic and more altruistic than elsewhere in the UK.

But we also know that the most cursory glance at a few facts will tell anyone this is most definitely not who we are in reality: whether it be educational apartheid, health inequalities, or the 1 to 273 ratio between Scotland’s wealthiest and poorest households in wealth. Read the rest of this entry »