What do we do in a world without football?Gerry HassanScottish Review, March 18th 2020 What do we do we in this strange world, facing so many unexpected challenges - including being without football? For some this will be a welcome respite but others will be bereft and lost in how they fill their time and understand life, but given the reach of the game across the globe this is no arcane and marginal matter. The temporary cancellation of all football matches – in England until April 4th for now and in Scotland until further notice – raises huge
The World Turned Upside Down: Goodbye to ThatcherismGerry HassanSunday National, March 15th 2020 The Tory budget marked a dramatic change in tone, content and politics from what we have become used to. The language of active government, investment and public spending saw UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak make commitments to an extra £30 billion in public spending. This raises questions about Boris Johnson’s government, the Tories, UK politics, and whether this change is superficial, tactical, or something more long lasting? And what, if any, are the consequences for Scotland and independence? It is now widely accepted that ten years
We finally have to talk about the Dark Side of Scottish Men Gerry HassanScottish Review, March 11th 2020 Men in public life was always going to become a major subject of conversation in the first part of 2020 with the trial of Harvey Weinstein in New York, and that of former First Minister Alex Salmond in Edinburgh which began this week. Until recent decades Scotland has been a male-dominated society to the extent that it was often never talked about or even recognised as such. Men defined politics, business, the professions, institutional life and our culture – including
Fantasyland Britain and its Zombie Economics are now in the firing lineGerry HassanSunday National, March 8th 2020 Britain and the world are facing an unprecedented crisis: a worldwide epidemic with major consequences for public health, sustainability of societies and way of life. This is a defining point. It calls for government, state and public agency action – for solidarity and recognising that health and well-being are social and interconnected. As the writer Otto English wrote we have had ‘three years of ‘we don’t need experts, we survived the war, Project Fear’’ which have been shown even more to
David Steel, Cyril Smith and how the establishment still looks after its ownGerry HassanScottish Review, March 4th 2020 Last week, as Harvey Weinstein finally faced justice in America, the UK’s Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse gave its verdict on David Steel. It damned him for his years of silence and inaction on the child sex abuse of Cyril Smith, Liberal, then Lib Dem, MP for Rochdale from 1972 to 1992; saying that Steel had ‘abdicated his responsibility’ and had not been motivated by ‘the lens of child protection but through the lens of political expediency’. The backstory
The State of the Union: Can Unionists reinvent their argument on the UK?Gerry HassanSunday National, March 1st 2020 In recent years the case for the union has been on the defensive - nervous and unsure of its own arguments and the future. It may have won the 2014 referendum, but there has been a rising sense of foreboding in pro-union opinion that the future is being made in the here and now by independence supporters. Such sentiment was one of the reasons behind the gathering last weekend called ‘Our Past, Present and Future’ organised by These Islands, the
Trouble at the BBC: Time to Demolish, Defend or Democratise?Gerry HassanSunday National, February 23rd 2020 The BBC is in crisis. Boris Johnson’s Downing Street are floating the scrapping of the licence fee. This when the BBC need to appoint a new Director General after Tony Hall unexpectedly resigned in January against a backdrop of impending negotiations with the government over charter renewal and the funding of the corporation. On top of this BBC Scotland’s head Donalda MacKinnon has resigned after just three years in the post when the organisation faces future uncertainty, pressures and scrutiny from all sides.
Time to consider recall for MSPs in ScotlandGerry HassanScottish Review, February 19th 2020 Scotland likes to see itself as a modern parliamentary democracy with a new Parliament elected by proportional representation, a circular chamber that reflects its intended way of working, and a committee system designed to hold power to account. This is very much the view of official Scotland and of much of our political classes. It was the view of Labour and Lib Dems when they governed Scotland and it is the view of the incumbent SNP now. But in at least one critical respect there
A Time for Big Ideas for ScotlandGerry HassanSunday National, February 16th 2020 Big ideas are important. Boris Johnson is talking about infrastructure projects, committing to HS2 and spending £106 billion of taxpayers’ monies. He also this week announced a review into the feasibility of a 20-mile long Scotland-Northern Ireland bridge that will cost £20 billion. Irrespective of the merits of these projects, and the obvious point that the Scottish-Northern Irish bridge has next to no chance of ever being built, they mark a different kind of politics at least rhetorically from that of Boris Johnson’s immediate Tory predecessors.
The End of an Era: The Imperial Era of the SNPGerry Hassan Scottish Review, February 12th 2020 The SNP were once the bright promising future of Scotland but all such periods of political promise come to an end. It isn’t possible to permanently remain the new kids of the block with the passing of time. The resignation of Derek Mackay as Finance Secretary and his subsequent suspension from the SNP came like a bolt out of the blue – shocking everyone in his party, fellow parliamentarians and political opponents, and the media. The SNP stands dominant in Scottish