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Posts Tagged ‘Social Justice’

Is Scotland really a social democratic country?

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, October 18th 2017

At last week’s SNP conference in the middle of her keynote speech, Nicola Sturgeon asked: ‘What kind of country do we want to be?’ She wasn’t expecting an answer, and seemed surprised when a member of the party faithful shouted out ‘an independent one.’

Behind Sturgeon’s non-question is the belief in Scottish difference, the efficacy of our values, and the link of both of these to the idea of Scotland as a social democratic country. Thus, around the conference chatter and commentary, Lesley Riddoch on Sky News spoke of ‘a social democratic consensus’ in Scotland, while Iain Macwhirter on the BBC talked of ‘a social democratic politics.’

Scotland as a land of social democracy has become the lexicon of our politics. It has accelerated under devolution, contributing to the mood music of the political environment and institutions. This has become even more pronounced under SNP rule, for obvious reasons, as the difference between Scotland and England politically is emphasised – Scotland social democratic good; England neo-liberal bad. Read the rest of this entry »

Does Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP have the courage to challenge Scotland and her own side?

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, September 4th 2016

This week First Minister Nicola Sturgeon launched a major new initiative on independence.

At the moment she is playing for time – waiting to see the developing post-Brexit landscape, Theresa May’s hand with Article 50 and the broad outline of the deal the UK is proposing with the EU.

There are numerous factors at work. Sturgeon has to be seen doing something. She has to appear in charge and doing something on independence. Plus there is the small issue of keeping 120,000 members busy and engaged, 80% of who weren’t in the SNP two years ago.

It has taken two years from the indyref for the SNP to get to this – a listening exercise. That is, to put it mildly, slow progress and not exactly prioritising independence. What have the SNP leadership been up to in these two years, apart from perma-campaigning? Aren’t politicians able to multi-task? Read the rest of this entry »

Govanhill: A Response from Glasgow City Council

May 5th 2016

Dear Mr Hassan,

I saw your article on ‘Scottish Review’ about Govanhill and, as a press officer for Glasgow City Council, was particularly taken the paragraph, which said:

For years Govanhill has had a palpable feeling of falling between the cracks and has not received council and government regeneration policy and funding. It isn’t by any stretch one of the poorest parts of Glasgow or Scotland, but this has meant that it has consistently missed out on funds, priorities and influence.

Below is a fact sheet, which was produced by the council for a public meeting held in Govanhill in September last year. This can be fully updated if required, but it should be noted that the CCTV system referred to is now fully operational and the Scottish Government has approved the council’s proposal for an Enhanced Enforcement Area for Govanhill.

People can always argue that more should be done – such is life in local government – but, given what’s written below, it’s not accurate to say that Govanhill has not been the focus of resources or policy input. Read the rest of this entry »

Govanhill: Glasgow’s Ellis Island and the Battle for the Heart of Nicola Sturgeon’s Constituency

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, May 4th 2016

A couple of years ago a community arts project in Glasgow designated Albert Drive on the city’s Southside as ‘Scotland’s most ethnically diverse street’. It was a good strapline – filled with positivity and pride, but inaccurate. Instead, that byline should be held by the nearby community of Govanhill, with 53 different languages recorded in its small area.

Govanhill has always been in transition and a place for immigrants: known for a long while as Glasgow’s Ellis Island. In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries it saw Irish immigration; after the Second World War, Italian, Polish and Jewish incomers and then from the seventies, Asian immigration, mostly from Pakistan, and in the last decade, Roma newcomers. Each, including the most recent, has been met with a degree of welcome, besides some unease and local tensions.

Govanhill is an area of great change, energy and enterprise that buzzes with activities and potential, but does have problems. It has some awful, slum housing with terrible living conditions, dampness and over-crowding. There are concerns about crime and policing and parts of the neighbourhood have a sense of decay and neglect, with overgrown backcourts and uncollected piles of rubbish.

For years Govanhill has had a palpable feeling of falling between the cracks and not receiving council and government regeneration policy and funding. It isn’t by any stretch one of the most poor parts of Glasgow or Scotland, but this has meant it has consistently missed out of funds, priorities and influence. Read the rest of this entry »

Let’s Talk about Tax if we don’t want to be Safety First Scotland

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, December 20th 2015

This was a significant week for the Scottish Government and Scottish politics.

John Swinney presented his first ever budget since Scotland had been given limited income tax powers which allowed variety up or down by up to 10p. That he choose not to do so is significant.

Swinney’s ninth budget came against the backdrop of a decade of real terms cuts by the Tories which we are only half way through. Against this backdrop and a Scottish election next year which the SNP look certain to win, Swinney didn’t want to do anything to frighten the Nationalists huge support.

There was as expected no change in the basic rate of income tax (now with the lovely anachronism SRIT), while there are small changes in second home taxes and business rates alongside commitments to childcare and educational attainment. Read the rest of this entry »

Gerry Hassan is a writer, commentator and thinker about Scotland, the UK, politics and ideas. more >
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