Posts Tagged ‘The Scotsman’

Scotland International: A Letter from Istanbul

Gerry Hassan

The Scotsman, January 25th 2014

Europe from its edges, corners and fuzzy borderlands looks and feels rather different than it does from elsewhere.

Here in Istanbul, the largest city in Turkey, Scotland’s debate and the UK’s never-ending turmoil with regard to its relationship with Europe, seems far removed.

Yet what is striking is that there are commonalities between these examples as I contemplate life looking at the shores of the Bosphorus – that historic meeting and clashing point of cultures, and the crossroads between Europe and Asia.

Scotland’s deliberations are about some fundamentals which would resonate in the bazaars of Istanbul: namely, geo-political possibilities. Or to put it less grandiosely, about how we want to position ourselves in the world, and who we want to ally ourselves with, aspire to be and identify with. Read the rest of this entry »

Be Clear Who Britain is Great For

Gerry Hassan

The Scotsman, January 18th 2014

The independence debate is about many things – politics, practicalities, personalities.

More than this it is about emotions – ranging from hope and fear, to anger, indignation and even incomprehension.

We have heard enough about the supposedly ‘Braveheart’ idea of Scottish independence, but what of the emotional case for Britain and the union?

There is still a powerful, resonant argument for the UK in its present form which has appeal and a rationale, albeit a declining one. This week Chris Deerin in ‘The Guardian’ (in a piece republished from the Scottish Daily Mail) attempted upon his return to Scotland to lay out such a case, and was backed up the redoubtable Alex Massie a day later. Read the rest of this entry »

The Battle for Britain and Daring to Believe We Can Do Better

Gerry Hassan

The Scotsman, January 11th 2014

In the last couple of weeks, two visions of Britain have been articulated. Both are clear, concise, utterly sure of themselves and the justice of their case, and both are equally partial.

One is Tory MEP Daniel Hannan’s notion of a free floating, buccaneering, outward looking UK, which would slip its moorings with the European Union and reposition itself in new waters – mixing the English speaking world of the Anglosphere with re-establishing old connections with the Commonwealth and new ones with emerging nations.

The other is academic Linda Colley’s project to rejuvenate Britishness – the subject of her BBC Radio 4 series and book. Her solution is a grand design project to rejuvenate the union: an English Parliament outside London, written constitution and federalism.

These are both old stories told for new times. One is the vision of radical Tories and the other of enlightened liberal reform. Both are blindsided on the issues dear to the other – Hannan doesn’t touch the internal imbalances of power and wealth in the UK; Colley only mentions in passing the Euro crises and clearly thinks that Euroscepticism is a mindset of the deranged. Read the rest of this entry »

Why the Politics of Hope not Optimism are the Future

Gerry Hassan

The Scotsman, January 4th 2014

One of the great myths of modern life is the power of optimism.

Optimism, so the argument goes, can get you far. It can make you a winner, change individual life circumstances, make people rich or help them battle out of poverty.

In the world of politics and campaigning, optimism is seen by many as the key particularly in American Presidential elections – such as Ronald Reagan in 1984 (‘It’s morning again in America’), and Barack Obama in 2008 (‘Yes We Can’)  – both portrayed at the time as transformational messages (irrespective of what happened afterwards with the politics).

The SNP believe they won in 2007 and 2011 because they campaigned on a positive message and were the embodiment of optimism. They were also aided, they acknowledge, by the unremitting, unattractive nature of Labour negativity. 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 »