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Posts Tagged ‘Theresa May’

Brexit, Dunkirk and a Britain Where the Past Shapes the Future

Gerry Hassan

Open Democracy, July 26th 2017

The past is always around us in what passes for modern Britain.

In recent years, particularly in the aftermath of the Brexit vote, it seems more omnipotent and increasingly problematic. From politics to culture and most aspects of public life we are confronted with a fantasyland version of the collective past which is selective and sepia-tinged. This matters because it reduces the prospect of us believing that we can make a better collective future than the nasty, mean-spirited reality which is for too many contemporary Britain.

This predicament comes into full view in the summer of 2017 and in Christopher Nolan’s just released film ‘Dunkirk’. This has attracted many plaudits for its grand scale, alongside its depiction of chaos and confusion. But it has also attracted comment (including critical ones) for its lack of characters, central story, and context (one of which is the absence of any Germans or overall strategy from either side).

However it did portray powerfully the gathering foreboding and claustrophobia on the Dunkirk beachhead as the Germans closed in on the trapped British and French forces. This was after all the greatest British military disaster and reverse ever in the country’s history. In military terms it rates much higher than the American Wars of Independence and Irish independence – which were geo-political defeats – or the much cited humiliations of the loses of Tobruk, Singapore and Hong Kong in 1942. This is epic history on every level: a bigger encirclement of men than even at Stalingrad, and the biggest amphibious military rescue ever undertaken by anyone. Read the rest of this entry »

We have reached a watershed for UK politics: Time for independence to catch the wave of change

Gerry Hassan

Bella Caledonia, June 20th 2017

These are bewildering and often disorientating times to live in. In recent weeks and months it has felt at times difficult to keep up with the speed of events – as history has been seemingly made and remade every few days.

Such periods call for being honest, respectful in debate, and reflection and self-awareness in everything any of us say or do in public. Look around at the events in the UK and world and they rightly should imbue any of us with a humbleness and wariness of easy remedies.

That said the Scottish election results mark some kind of watershed. Take a couple of perspectives from the ‘Imagination: Scotland’s Festival of Ideas’ Scotland after the election event in Glasgow on Sunday. Peter Geoghegan said the election was ‘the end of the 2014 indyref road’. John Curtice that ‘Brexit has been as disruptive for the Nationalists – as for every other party.’ Angela Haggerty that independence was facing its ‘first big test’ since 2014.

Curtice pointed out that the SNP’s 37% was the tipping point of support for the party and FPTP working in its favour (the SNP won 35 out of 59 seats: 59%). Its support is relatively flatly distributed across the country compared to its opponents, and this produces according to Curtice for the SNP ‘feast or famine’. Any further fall of even a few percent and the electoral system will begin to work against the SNP – the way it currently does for Tories, Labour and Lib Dems – and did when the SNP broke through at Westminster in October 1974: their previous peak until 2015 and 2017. Read the rest of this entry »

Time for the SNP and Labour to break with the failed policies of divided Britain

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Herald, May 28th 2017

Until last week this election was one in which nothing seemed to be happening. All of that changed with the horrors of Manchester.

Such atrocities test the fabric of our democracy and civic culture and sadly find some – though thankfully few – wanting.

Theresa May came out saying some of the right words. But we have nearly 1,000 armed troops now on our streets:; a reflection of the huge police cuts she made in her six-year stint as Home Secretary and glaring failures in intelligence and security.

Tory McCarthyite smears will be out in force for the remainder of the election. Things haven’t gone quite to plan – with polls showing their lead slipping and one YouGov poll putting it as narrow as 5%, which would translate on a national swing to a Tory overall majority of a mere two seats. Read the rest of this entry »

 The Winner Doesn’t Take It All: Phoney War or the Beginning of a New Era?

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, May 10th 2017

Scotland’s permanent political campaign continued last week with the local elections. These were important for who runs Scotland’s 32 councils, local services and what passes for the remnants of local government, after decades of centralisation under Labour, Tories and SNP. But the stakes were higher than usual with the impending UK general election.

Everybody could claim some spoils. The SNP ‘won’ – finishing with most votes and seats. The Tories made significant gains in votes and seats. Labour while enduring a kicking showed glimmers of life. The Lib Dems had some local successes and the Greens increased their footholds in Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Yet the campaign hype and its aftermath distorted the main political actors and their cheerleaders. The Daily Mail and Daily Express could hardly contain their excitement at Tory gains and evidence of Ruth-mania. Many Tories couldn’t stop getting things out of proportion with David Mundell, Secretary of State for Scotland, tweeting that ‘There is only one winner today’, inviting much ridicule and parody. Read the rest of this entry »

‘When I hear the word Scotland I want to say: ‘Shut the Fuck Up’’

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, May 3rd 2017

‘When I hear the word Scotland, I want to say: ‘Shut the Fuck Up.’’ These were the emotive words someone said at a public event in Newcastle I spoke at exactly one year to the day after the 2014 indyref.

They undoubtedly voiced the views of a part of the country – by that I mean a part of England. But at the same time their anger and loss of patience taps into something that is clearly going on in present day Scotland.

The English part is the more easy to surmise. England has had an awful lot of Scotland in recent years. There was the indyref, the 2015 UK general election, the SNP 56, and then the after affects of Brexit.

The tone of the SNP 56 has had lots of shades and positives, but can often come over, particularly for those outwith Scotland, with a sense of Scottish exceptionalism, conceit and sense of its own moral superiority. This translates into a lack of awareness of impact that can alienate those outside Scotland, not all of whom are the SNP’s natural enemies. Read the rest of this entry »

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