Posts Tagged ‘Social Democracy’

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 »

Why Scotland needs to stop living in the past

Gerry Hassan

The Scotsman, November 14th 2013

Who do we have such a powerful propensity to live much of our life backwards?

This can be seen in the power of the past – from mythical wrongs and injustices, to symbolic, psychic triumphs and disasters – the latter ranging from the Darien scheme to Ally’s Tartan Army’s ill-fated expedition to Argentina.

One defining moment of recent history which operates as a lodestar and hinge year politically is ‘the Year Zero’ of 1979.

There are several versions of this. The most visible and noisy is the Labour-SNP contest of who did what to whom all those years ago. There is the accusation of who brought down the Labour Government, and the counter-charge of who inaugurated the era of Thatcherism. Read the rest of this entry »

The crisis of Britain’s institutions is one of the labour movement too

Gerry Hassan

The Scotsman, November 23rd 2013

One of the defining characteristics of the Labour Party through the ages has been its moral dimension – its indignation at the inequities and injustices of a rotten, economically and socially divisive capitalist system.

It has critiqued this via its early socialist, radical and religious roots  – more Methodist than Marx, more the Bible and ‘The Ragged Trousered Philanthropist’ than ‘Das Capital’.

As politics and society have changed – the post-war consensus, Thatcher, New Labour – these strands have weakened but remained. There was a hope amongst some that post-Blair and Brown Labour would recover its core principles and purpose and make the case against an economic, social and political system which has clearly lost its way.

Events have proven to be a bit trickier than that. The crisis of British capitalism, its traditional establishment and the world of clubland and ‘gentlemanly capitalism’ are deep rooted. The forces of new capitalism and its brash elites in the City, hedge funds and outsourcers, has proven even more anti-social, selfish and brutal than the old one. Read the rest of this entry »