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Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Culture in Scotland in the midst of storms: A Call for Dangerous Cultures

Gerry Hassan

Bella Caledonia, March 16th 2018

Culture in Scotland is in difficult times: public spending cuts, the lost decade of stagnant living standards for the vast majority of people, limits to the Scottish Government’s largesse and devolution powers, controversy over Creative Scotland’s decision making and funding priorities resulting in the debate over the future of the Scottish Youth Theatre – and much more (with some questioning the continued existence of Creative Scotland).

If you think these are dangerous waters you ain’t seen nothing yet. While some yearn for the headwinds of populism, revolt and voter dissatisfaction to blow themselves out and ‘normal’ politics to resume, others recognise that what was normal was part of the problem and one of the reasons we got into the current mess. Restoration politics and culture which is what some dream of isn’t aiming very high.

Instead, we inhabit an age of broken mainstream politics, a discredited economic model, big questions about accountability, ethics and responsibility in both public life and in what is called private life, but is increasingly a contested arena. That’s without mentioning Brexit, Trump, the ineptitudes of the Theresa May UK Government, and that nearly everywhere in the developed world those notionally in control have lost their confidence, while continuing to pretend otherwise. Read the rest of this entry »

Scottish Labour after Dugdale and what comes next?

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, August 30th 2017

Scottish Labour used to offer certainty. It had its differences and divisions, but it was in the business of running Scotland, dominating local government and town halls, and was concerned with administration, holding office and doing practical things.

That seems a long time ago. Where did it all go wrong for Scottish Labour? The resignation of Kezia Dugdale means the party has gone through a staggering eight leaders in eighteen years, and will by the end of this year have a ninth.

Scottish Labour’s neverending crisis continues when things are looking up for the British party. Corbyn’s June election recovery made all of this more likely as Dugdale was on record as not supporting Corbyn in both his victorious leadership contests and many of Corbyn’s supporters haven’t forgotten or forgiven this.

British Labour are now making the political weather. The June election and rise in the party’s vote and seats, depriving the Tories of their majority and confidence, has given Corbyn a sense of belief. It has been an amazing transformation, for pre-June Corbyn was widely treated by the media with scorn and condescension. Suddenly such people are having to take him and the prospect of a Labour Government seriously. Read the rest of this entry »

Living the High Life and Post-War Dream in Dundee

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, June 28th 2017

In the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower tragedy tower blocks and social housing are everywhere in the news.

Much of it has been ill-informed, instant commentary. People asserting that tower blocks aren’t suited to modern living or making sweeping statements about the failings of council and social housing, A large part of this seemed to be a displacement or discomfort of middle class opinion having to talk about a forgotten and neglected section of the country, and confront the living conditions of large numbers of poor people.

Housing is a topical subject. Long neglected by the British political classes it has become a social and generational scandal – one that has overlooked millions of people, and in particular, younger people, from owning or renting a decent home. It is all a far cry from the Thatcherite hubris of a ‘property owning democracy’ in the 1980s: a phrase which came of age in the 1950s and which was invented by the Scottish Tory Noel Skelton in the 1920s. Read the rest of this entry »

The Named Persons legislation and who stands up for liberty in Scotland?

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, July 31st 2016

The summer of 2016 is proving dramatic and historic. Brexit, David Cameron resignation as PM, Theresa May becoming the new PM, Jeremy Corbyn’s travails.

That’s just Britain. Across the world there is Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, violent and terrorist attacks in Germany and France, Putin flexing his muscles, while a belligerent China shows its power in the South China Sea.

Meanwhile, the Scottish Government has been playing an astute game on Brexit. This week Nicola Sturgeon spoke in a way no pro-European UK politician has yet managed. She was empathic, thoughtful, and forward-looking, while calmly making the case that this mess and crisis is not of Scotland’s making.

It then comes as a bit of a bolt and bringing back down to earth that the UK Supreme Court found against the Scottish Government on the Named Persons Act – which would appoint for every child a named person to look after their wellbeing – finding it not unlawful in principle, but in practice, and in particular, in terms of data sharing between public agencies. Read the rest of this entry »

Gerry Hassan, Independence of the Scottish Mind: Elite Narratives, Public Spaces and the Making of a Modern Nation, Palgrave Macmillan

ISBN 978-1-137-41413-7

Reviewed by Scott Hames

Soundings: A Journal of Politics and Culture, Summer 2016

The feverish upheaval of Scottish politics has gradually become its own kind of normal. On 5 May the voters practically yawned as they seized their second chance in twelve months to slaughter the Scottish Labour party. (The body-count is considerable, but it was an apathetic smothering compared to the gore of 2015.) As the SNP’s post-referendum insurgency beds down into cautious hegemony, boredom and campaign-fatigue take hold. With little prospect of a change in Holyrood government, less dynamic patterns of public life return to the fore.

It’s a good moment to reflect on how we got here, and what has and hasn’t changed along the way. Gerry Hassan’s lively and comprehensive study offers ‘a longer-term perspective on the loosening of the inner ties of the UK and weakening of British identity, combined with the rise of a Scottish political dimension and debate’. Independence of the Scottish Mind combines the merits of a richly theorised history of the developments that made devolution inevitable, a shrewd insider’s guide to Scotland’s largely invisible civic-institutional elite, and a sharp critique of the nation’s social-democratic consensus. 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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