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Posts Tagged ‘Socialism’

Where is the Jeremy Corbyn Labour Party revolution going to end?

Gerry Hassan

Scotttish Review, September 29th 2016

Jeremy Corbyn and Labour have some major positives going for them.

He has been re-elected Labour leader with a huge majority in an election in which over half a million people voted. On the wave of a surge of excitement and engagement, Labour’s membership has risen to 650,000 – over four times that of the Tories, and representing the largest political party in all Europe.

On top of that Jeremy Corbyn is clearly a different kind of politician. He is untainted by the Blair years, numerous wars or parliamentary sleaze. All of this counts for something.

Yet saying all of the above the party faces huge challenges which cannot be wished away. Its electoral prospects are currently dire and going backward, after two election defeats. What it stands for is unclear or vague beyond the most generalist sentiments and platitudes, with no evidence of major economic policies or ideas emerging from the Corbyn leadership in the last year. And the party leadership has no real idea what to do with all the enthusiasm and anticipation it has unleashed.

The recent leadership contest was the perfect anecdote for Corbyn and his allies: it turned Corbyn back into the insurgent who won in 2015, and allowed him to run on an anti-establishment ticket. It brought people flocking in their droves into the party, further galvinised Momentum (the pro-Corbyn grass roots group), but it begs the question – what now? It isn’t easy to turn that energy outwards to the country because everything in argument, message and tone would have to be different. Read the rest of this entry »

Nine Months in the Death of Labour: A Response to the Corbynistas

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, June 28th 2016

These are surprising times in Britain and its politics. Cameron gone. England and Wales dragging the UK out of the EU. The England football team defeated by Iceland. And somehow Jeremy Corbyn was meant to be the antidote to these political times.

He was different from the typical 21st century politician, a throwback to the days when all male left-wingers were like underpaid sociology lecturers – badly dressed and presented, rambling but affectionate and with their heart in the right place. Corbyn was never the answer, but he has quickly become the problem, and part of a much bigger set of problems that can’t be ignored – namely, will Labour survive?

It is understandable that some want to stand by their man against right-wing plotters, the media and enemies everywhere, but it is time for Corbynistas to think of more important things. 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 »

Radical Nostalgia Scotland and Why We Can’t Go Back to the 1970s

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, February 5th 2014

Scotland’s current debate on independence comprises many conversations. They centre on what we were, are and could be, and who did what to whom in the past, and what it means about where we are now, and what we could become in the future.

Many of these aspects were to the fore last week at a Jim Sillars-Alex Neil event to launch Jim’s new book, ‘In Place of Fear II’, under the auspices of ‘Yes Airdrie’. On a cold Thursday night, nearly 300 people attended, a five man only panel (with David Hayman, Pat Kane and the chair), and for two hours of discussion in which every question from the floor was asked by a man. Pat understandably baulked at this, apologised and after his contribution, gave his place to a woman in the audience (who got to make a one minute intervention over the course of the whole evening).

Sillars book is fascinating. It is a real curate’s egg, buzzing with ideas, eclectism and frustration (both about Scotland and personally). Many of the suggestions are a bit dotty (the Robert Burns hospital ship), but many are interesting, and some even heretical (such as self-governing state schools). It is in a deeper sense, a sign of the Scottish times: of a culture which has awoken to the power of the pamphleteer, both old and new, and the floating of numerous vessels and platforms. Read the rest of this entry »

Who is the Real Gordon Brown and Why It Matters?

Gerry Hassan

The Scotsman, August 3rd 2013

Gordon Brown dominated Scottish politics for several decades. Now gone from the stage, he has only left memories and the issue of his legacy.

Brown is a fascinating figure – a very public person, but private; moral in his deliberations yet filled with caution; supposedly radical but profoundly conservative.

Kevin Toolis’s new play ‘Confessions of Gordon Brown’ (on at the Pleasance during the Festival) attempts to get inside the mind and psyche of Brown. This is a potent idea and something writers previously explored with Blair, perhaps most notably in ‘The Trial of Tony Blair’, where he is seen to be haunted by the ghosts of Iraqi war dead.

Toolis portrays Brown’s personal tragedy – as a man of idealism being lost in the compromises and challenges of politics. Yet to imagine Brown’s plight as primarily one of personal demons involves reducing the political down to just the individual, and issues of motivation and conscience. Read the rest of this entry »

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