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Posts Tagged ‘The Guardian’

Holyrood has given Scotland independence of the mind

Gerry Hassan

The Guardian, September 11th 2017

Twenty years ago today Scotland voted 3:1 for the establishment of a Scottish Parliament. It was clear the old Westminster system of governing Scotland was discredited. Voters recognised it was undemocratic, and produced bad politics and legislation. The case for change had become a consensus – ‘the settled will’ in John Smith’s description – that the referendum merely and validated.

Twenty years later devolution has been a success. There are no serious calls for the Scottish Parliament to be abolished or for a return of direct rule from Westminster. Ruth Davidson and the Tories long ago made their peace. The late Tam Dalyell was the last expression of such a politics.

The Scottish public now views the Scottish Parliament, rather than Westminster, as the most important political institution. Irrespective of formal independence, Scotland already has an informal independence of the mind in how it talks, thinks and acts. Read the rest of this entry »

Does the appeal of Corbyn in Scotland hold the keys to Downing Street?

Gerry Hassan

The Guardian Comment, August 28th 2017

Jeremy Corbyn has been causing waves in Scotland, as he has been across the entire UK. A five-day visit has seen him get lots of coverage and in places crowds, while annoying his political opponents.

It wasn’t always so. Pre-election Corbyn had written Scotland off as hostile and unfriendly territory. Now it is back in play – after six Labour gains in June from the SNP, along with a small rise in their vote – all against everyone’s expectations.

Corbyn’s trip saw him visit eighteen constituencies – thirteen current SNP and five Labour gains in the June election – drawing criticism from the Nationalists that he was avoiding Tory seats.

This ignored that of the 64 seats Labour needs to win for a bare majority eighteen are in Scotland and all are SNP held. The magical 64th – East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow has a 3,866 SNP majority. It is not until Labour’s 96th target seat that you reach a Tory one – Renfrewshire East (formerly Jim Murphy’s seat) currently held by the Tories with a 7,150 lead over third place Labour. Read the rest of this entry »

From Peak Nat to Pique Nat: Is Alex Salmond becoming a problem for Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP?

Gerry Hassan

The Guardian Comment, August 15th 2017

Alex Salmond is one of the big beasts not just of Scottish, but British politics and the defining figure of modern Scottish nationalism and the SNP.

He has been leader of the SNP for a total of twenty years (1990-2000; 2004-2014), First Minister of Scotland for seven years, and in 2014 took the SNP closer than any of its opponents thought possible to the party’s ultimate goal of independence.

Yet he now finds himself bereft of a major public role, after losing the referendum and standing down as First Minister, and subsequently losing his Westminster Gordon seat to Tory Colin Clark. Read the rest of this entry »

The SNP and Tories have swapped places in Scotland: The former is the party of government. The latter the party of protest

Gerry Hassan

The Guardian Comment, May 31st 2017

It is a topsy-turvy time in Scottish politics.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon now regularly challenges Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson for going on about nothing else but independence.

Tories in Scotland have become a party of protest. Today Tory protestors stood outside the SNP manifesto launch earlier in Perth with anti-independence placards. The SNP have become a party of government. The two have literally swapped roles.

The SNP have been in office for ten years. The Tories in London for seven years. The SNP say the Tories don’t want to talk about their record. Similarly, the Tories and Labour say the same of the SNP. Read the rest of this entry »

The UK as we know it can’t survive Brexit and Trump

Gerry Hassan

The Guardian, November 17th 2016

The United Kingdom’s sense of itself and place in the world is more in question now than it was before Donald Trump’s election. It was already facing the precarious process of Brexit that has destabilised the nature of fifty years plus of UK foreign policy and international alliances.

All of this should be a moment for opposition but Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour are missing in action, focusing on internal battles, and letting the struggle with the Tories slip through their fingers. Whatever the views of Corbyn as a leader, this has and is costing the UK dear, and has long-term damaging consequences.

One of these is that the UK – as currently composed – has very little future. To compound the international and national challenges the UK faces, has to be added one based on the territorial dimensions of the state, the failure of the political centre to understand this, and the decline of any popular account of unionism which tells a story about the future of the UK. Read the rest of this entry »

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