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Is it really time for another pro-independence party in Scotland?

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, August 14th 2019

It is the silly season after all. This used to be the traditional time when daft stories got headlines as newspapers struggled for real news. But now we live in such a topsy-turvy world that silly season stories appear all year round.

Thus, on first appearance the news that pro-independence blogger, the ‘Rev.’ Stuart Campbell – ‘Wings over Scotland’ on social media – might launch a political party, seemed to have all the hallmarks of such an item. But these are not normal times anymore, and it turns out the ‘Rev.’ wasn’t joking, but is deadly serious.

He floated this kite in an interview in ‘The Times’ on Saturday with Kenny Farquharson. It made headlines over the weekend and subsequently, doing so in a fallow period for news (inbetween Brexit disasters). As the story grew, Campbell doubled down and subsequently said that he was ‘fairly likely’ to do this in the run-up to the 2021 Scottish elections – on the proviso that Nicola Sturgeon hasn’t called and won an indyref by then. Read the rest of this entry »

Govanhill: Glasgow’s Southside is changing for the better

Gerry Hassan

Sunday National, August 11th 2019

Govanhill on Glasgow’s Southside is an area used to being noticed. But in the last week and a half it has been doing so on its own terms with the third Govanhill International Festival and Carnival including an annual parade through its streets.

In recent years the area has attracted attention and headlines with right-wing papers waxing lyrically about ‘Govanhell’. Their concern for social issues and inner city poverty only emerging when Nicola Sturgeon, local MSP, became First Minister.

Govanhill has always been about change and, throughout its history, subject to waves of immigration and incomers – the Irish, Jews, Pakistanis, and most recently, Roma. In each period, people arriving to make the area their home have faced challenges, discrimination, prejudice and racism.

The latest arrivals like all before them brought forth a variety of responses – some friendly, some nervous, some not so friendly, and some outright hostile. Such has been the human reaction to immigration since the dawning of time. Read the rest of this entry »

What should we talk about to make Scotland a place we are proud to call home?

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, August 7th 2019

There is only one subject on the lips of many this week: independence and Michael Ashcroft’s 52:48 poll. This is the Scotland of 2019 – twenty years of the Scottish Parliament, five years since the indyref, nine years of Tory-led government, and with less than 90 days to the prospect of a ‘No Deal Brexit’.

We have also had twelve years of SNP Government. Once upon a time its admirers talked of its competence and sure touch, but they do less now. The passing of time and pressures of office have had a cost, and even though the SNP is still by far the most popular party in the country, the sense of political attrition and wear and tear on the administration is palpable.

There are obvious shortcomings in the SNP record and in their style of government, talk of widespread disquiet within and across the party, concerns about the style of Nicola Sturgeon’s leadership, and despite the poll above, huge worries about the absence of any strategy in relation to independence. Most of these sentiments are expressed quietly and in private, but with a sense of vacuum and drift, other issues become more divisive, such as the trans issue and Gender Recognition Act, which has seen bitter exchanges between senior figures in the party. Read the rest of this entry »

The Rise, Fall and Rise Again of Council Housing across Scotland and the UK

Gerry Hassan

Sunday National, August 4th 2019

Council housing once defined much of Scotland – geographically, culturally, and how people saw themselves and lived.

In 1975 54% of Scottish homes were council owned; in England one-third of households then lived in local authority housing. This turned out to be the apex of council housing here and across the UK – with the council stock now forming a little over a quarter of homes in Scotland and significantly less in England.

Today it is no longer the case that council housing defines most of Scotland. The story of this decline is complex, in which the Thatcher Government and right to buy plays a major role, but isn’t the entire picture. There are wider issues about changing society and expectations, while cuts in local government and housing provision began under the Labour Government of Jim Callaghan in the 1970s. Read the rest of this entry »

The Future of the Scottish Greens could decide the Future of Scotland

Gerry Hassan

Sunday National, July 28th 2019

This is the summer of leadership contests. After the Lib Dems and Tories, next week sees the turn of the Scottish Greens. This might at first seem of less importance, but the outcome of this contest could play a significant role in the future of Scotland and hence the UK.

The Scottish Greens are now a permanent feature on the political landscape. ‘Two decades of devolution have been good to the Scottish Greens’, says Lynn Bennie of Aberdeen University. ‘The party has gained relevance in a way that would have been impossible if the Scottish Parliament had not existed.’

The party are an important and sometimes under-estimated component in the politics of Scotland and independence. Not only do they have critical parliamentary votes, they have a popular base, supporters, and activists. Patrick Harvie, current co-convenor of the party with Maggie Chapman, believes the party has a ‘good track record of impact, growing activism, and organisation.’ Read the rest of this entry »

The People’s Flag and the Union Jack: An Alternative History of Britain and the Labour Party
Gerry Hassan is a writer, commentator and thinker about Scotland, the UK, politics and ideas. more >
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