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Coming Together or Falling Apart? Freedom of Speech in the Age of Noise

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, October 17th 2018

The context and limits of freedom of speech have always been important, but everywhere this seems to have become increasingly contentious.

Whether it is white supremacists in the US declaring they are protecting the US way of life, our very own home-grown hate speak from Tommy Robinson, or the multiple sensitivities, claims and counter-claims on transgender issues something seems to be going on.

Only last weekend there was a mini-controversy when Ann Henderson, Edinburgh University’s Rector, retweeted details of an event on ‘How will changes to the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) affect women’s rights?” She was condemned by a host of equality and women’s rights campaigners who felt that Henderson, a lifelong feminist, had somehow let down the cause by the act of retweeting, and thus acknowledging there was a debate that needed to be had. Read the rest of this entry »

A Vision of the Future comes to Dundee: A Tayside Renaissance?

Gerry Hassan

New Statesman, October 12th 2018

Dundee is being talked about. This marks a big change for a city that traditionally has been ignored or presented in clichés – of jute, jam and journalism, the Tay Rail Bridge disaster, and William McGonagall.

Now Dundee is on the map, and not just the Scottish and UK one, but internationally as a tourist and cultural hot spot, and a must-see destination.

The major reason for this sudden interest is the opening of the V&A this month. It has been a long time coming, with expectation rising in the city and beyond.

The V&A is a statement of intent, and style-wise makes a dramatic impact. Its striking angular, shape and structure; its visceral materials and dark colours, can be seen from across the River Tay – and in the city centre, glimpses of the V&A peek out from side streets. Read the rest of this entry »

Toxic Masculinity must be defeated. Silence is not an option for any of us

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, October 10th 2018

Hate seems to be everywhere in public life. This week Scottish Justice minister Humza Yousaf floated making misogyny a specific hate crime illegal, while in the previous week, the Scottish Government launched a high profile campaign against hate crime.

Look around the world for numerous, state-sponsored examples – US President Donald Trump, the Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte with his rape comment after the killing of an Australian missionary Jacqueline Hamill that ‘the mayor should have been first’, and Brazilian Presidential frontrunner Jair Bolsonaro and his language of rape references as a political weapon.

Trump’s comments on the Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford case have taken even his debased Presidency to a new low. After initially saying after the Senate hearings that Ford was ‘a very fine woman’, not long after he went into the gutter at a rally mocking sexual abuse and gang rape – then in the last few days, dismissing the whole thing as ‘a hoax’ dreamed up by the Democrats. Read the rest of this entry »

Britain and Scotland have changed: The Tory Story of Britain is Dead

Gerry Hassan

Bella Caledonia, October 3rd 2018

The British Conservative Party is one of the most successful electoral parties in the developed capitalist world. They might not look like it at the moment but this is a force which has adapted to numerous challenges and changes: the coming of the mass franchise and rise of the working class, emergence of Labour, the post-war settlement, and demise of Empire and the UK’s diminished global standing and influence.

The Tories are the party of privilege and entitlement; of a ruling class which has presided over a version of Britain which has been historically run for the few, not the many, but which has invited the vast majority of us into their political and social construction of prosperity, affluence and social mobility.

Having said that the Tory Party has always been more than the hard-nosed, selfish, greedy capitalists of leftist legend. Indeed, it can be said that the left-wing caricature of Toryism and Tories (‘Tory scum’ etc) has not only held back a more successful left politics, but it has aided Tories who have on occasion been able to defy these stereotypes: for example, in Macmillan’s promise to build 300,000 houses a year and by Thatcher’s council house sales appealing to working class voters. Read the rest of this entry »

Could Corbyn’s Labour be the future? A work in progress, but now imaginable

Gerry Hassan

Compass, September 27th 2018

Labour conference this week is an important staging post in the new Corbyn-led, energised mass party – not just the biggest in Britain, but bigger than all the other party memberships put together.

The Jeremy Corbyn-John McDonnell leadership has been three years at the helm, and are the new establishment running and defining the party. They are now in near-total control of the party, its institutions and in tune with the expanded grass roots. This is their party now and shows no sign of changing anytime soon.

Those who are now the new outsiders are the majority of the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP): three-quarters of which tried to remove Corbyn as leader two years ago in a vote of confidence. They worry about their fate under mandatory reselection (for now postponed), long a left totem which came about in the 1980s, and saw few MPs deselected. Now many anti-Corbyn MPs worry of their future fate in a party they no longer feel comfortable in. Read the rest of this entry »

Gerry Hassan is a writer, commentator and thinker about Scotland, the UK, politics and ideas. more >
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