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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 Brexit Crisis and Problem with Absolute Sovereignty: From the loss of the American Colonies and Ireland to Brexit

Gerry Hassan

Bella Caledonia, July 26th 2019

Britain is not only in crisis but under Boris Johnson’s new hardline Brexit government is heading for the rocks and disaster at turbo-charged speed.

Yet with wall-to-wall mainstream media commentary on all things Brexit and Boris Johnson, a number of key characteristics are missing. The first is any understanding that Brexit is nearly entirely an English phenomenon and not only that but an expression of virulent, reactionary English nationalism. Secondly is the unpalatable reality that this nationalism didn’t emerge from nowhere but has been festering in the English body politic – witness Tom Nairn’s analysis in the mid-1970s – and for long before that.

Third, Brexit and its set of political crises have deep roots in the fissures and faultlines of the UK – of an increasingly divided kingdom, the near disappearance of any real British politics beyond Westminster, and the permanent semi-detachment of Scotland and Wales from the concerns of what are still meant to be the British governing classes. Read the rest of this entry »

Edinburgh: Inspiring Capital for Whom?

Gerry Hassan

Sunday National, July 21st 2019

The world – or rather a very narrow, self-selecting part of it – is preparing to head to Edinburgh for the annual carnival of festivals and the Fringe.

These are good times for Edinburgh. It has experienced over two decades of sustained population growth – up from under 450,000 to 513,000, a rise of 14%. Unemployment is at a record low and across the city in sector after sector it feels like a boom town.

This is, in the eyes of the official version of the city, a golden era. Yet with all this good news why does it not feel like that universally? Why for many are there growing anxieties and worries, and alongside a concern that the big issues and challenges of the future are being deliberately ducked? Some even wonder where – unlike in previous eras – is the vision and a leadership for the city prepared to make difficult decisions to prepare Edinburgh for the future? Read the rest of this entry »

Linda McCartney: A Life, Love and Family in Photographs

Gerry Hassan

Sunday National, July 14th 2019

Linda McCartney is a name known to most people but many will relate to her through her thirty-year relationship and marriage to Paul McCartney, not being fully aware of her undoubted talent as a photographer.

Now, and not before time, she is the object of an outstanding exhibition – the ‘Linda McCartney Retrospective’ at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, and its UK premiere. It covers the arc of over thirty years of photographic work – from the mid-1960s to close to 1998 when she died of cancer aged 56. The show contains a moving range of her work including intimate portraits of 1960s rock greats to family life in Scotland and her love of animals and nature.

For many Linda McCartney, born Linda Eastman in Scarsdale, Westchester County, in New York State, is only synonymous with Paul and vegetarian sausages. Alongside that for some might be distant memories of unimpressive keyboard playing in the 1970s with Paul’s band, Wings.

Linda was then – as those in the know knew – so much more than that. In the sixties she emerged as a pioneering photographer, and then later in life, after bringing up four children with Paul – Heather, from her first marriage, and Mary, Stella and James – became a very public animal rights campaigner, author of vegetarian cookbooks, and successful business woman setting up Linda McCartney Foods. Read the rest of this entry »

Where is the vision for Scotland’s First City: Glasgow?

Gerry Hassan

Bella Caledonia, July 11th 2019

Glasgow is Scotland’s first city in size and importance. There are of course several different Glasgows – from the official council area of 621,020 inhabitants to the metropolitan region of between 1.2 million to 1.7 million people, depending on the definition.

Glasgow matters. It’s success, wellbeing, vibrancy, the happiness of its people, sustainability, and state of its public realm all matter not just to the city, but to all of Scotland.

Sometimes it doesn’t feel like that to many Glaswegians. The past weekend saw GMB Scotland trade union boss Gary Smith talk of the city in fairly black and white terms. Smith called the city ‘filthy’ and ‘unkempt’, suffering from an ‘epidemic’ of rats, and claimed that it had lost its way and was in economic and political decline. 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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