How we should and shouldn’t commemorate VE DayGerry HassanScottish Review, May 6th 2020 This coming Friday May 8th is an important moment in the history of all of us - the 75th anniversary of the defeat of fascism and Nazism in Europe in World War Two. It is important to mark, commemorate and remember those who gave their lives in the defeat of fascism - and to learn from what happened. This means not allowing the anniversary to be taken over by unchallenged official accounts that feed into the endless British obsession with 1939-45. The rise and defeat
The Empire Strikes Back: Being Prisoners of the Past in BritainGerry HassanSunday National, May 3rd 2020 Next week sees another historical milestone with the commemoration of VE (Victory in Europe) Day on 8 May - the 75th anniversary of the defeat of fascism and Nazism in Europe. Such totemic dates seem to come around more regularly and be marked in increasingly high-profile ways. Whether the 75th anniversary of D-Day last year, marking the Battle of Britain, or numerous films about the Dunkirk debacle, the Second World War is always with us. And this without mentioning the Churchill industry
Where is the wisdom and ability to ask big questions in our present crisis?Gerry HassanScottish Review, April 29th 2020 The world is united for once in sadness, tragedy and death. Everywhere there is crisis and anxiety, and in most places a lack of political leadership and absence of candour in public debate, despite the best intentions of the scientific community. In these trying times a degree of honesty about difficult choices facing government, society, businesses, families and individuals would be a good starting point. As would be more of a sense of wisdom and insight in public debate.
What will art, culture and sport look like after the virus?Gerry HassanSunday National, April 26th 2020 The UK economy and life as we know it are undergoing the kind of fundamental shock the like of which we have never seen in living memory. The only comparisons of similar economic and human carnage in peacetime are of the depression of 1920-21 and Great Depression at the end of the 1920s.Literally we are living through what Naomi Klein called ‘the shock doctrine’ of ‘disaster capitalism’ at a vastly accelerated pace. All of this raises questions about what life will look
Where is the political leadership in this time of crisis in the UK?Gerry HassanScottish Review, April 22nd 2020 The news this weekend was dominated by controversy over Boris Johnson’s absentee leadership in the midst of the early stages of the coronavirus before his recent illness. Johnson missed five Cobra meetings, had a mini-holiday and delayed for 38 crucial days the UK giving the virus the importance and priority it deserved. Exemplary investigative journalism from the ‘Sunday Times’ has revealed a government asleep at the wheel, the diversionary cost of Brexit over recent years, and the cumulative effect of
Inequality – including in Britain – kills and why we need to organise to defeat itGerry HassanSunday National, April 19th 2020 As the scale of the coronavirus challenges rises by the day, another debate is emerging – about how society copes with the scale and inequity of income, wealth and power – and the overall issue of inequality. Just over a week ago Emily Maitlis opened ‘BBC Newsnight’ with a powerful polemic: ‘You do not survive the illness through fortitude and strength of character - whatever the Prime Minister's colleagues will tell us. And the disease is not
We are not at war yet we are increasingly living in a warfare stateGerry HassanScottish Review, April 15th 2020 In the past week the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson had to be taken into hospital as a result of COVID-19, moved to intensive care with his life in the balance, and released after his condition improved on Easter Sunday. This has been a testing time for the UK government with the Prime Minister temporarily incapacitated, and for a period out of the picture, with Dominic Raab pushed into the limelight - as have been the internal workings of
The British constitution works only for the British establishmentGerry HassanSunday National, April 12th 2020 Boris Johnson has been incapacitated for most of this week which has brought up thorny questions of where political power lies in the UK, the role of the Prime Minister and the nature of the unwritten constitution. We have been repeatedly told that government is working smoothly without the Prime Minister, that cabinet government and collective ministerial responsibility are happening, and from acting-up Dominic Raab that all of this is made easier by the fact that they are all friends and allies working together.
Jeremy Corbyn, Tony Blair and Keir Starmer and when was Britain’s Golden Age?Gerry HassanScottish Review, April 8th 2020 Every society has a golden age – often mythical, but with some relationship to events and reality. In Britain, this is often continually referenced as World War Two, ‘the Blitz spirit’ and Dunkirk – all much in evidence in recent weeks in the face of coronavirus. Other stories are available but get less coverage and mileage. One is that of ‘the swinging sixties’ and the Beatles; another is the idea (floated by the New Economics Foundation) that 1976 was the
The Beatles, the Sixties and what happens to music after the virus?Gerry HassanSunday National, April 5th 2020 Next Thursday one of the landmark anniversaries of popular music and culture occurs: the 50th anniversary of the public break-up of the Beatles when Paul McCartney broke the unexpected news. The dreams and hopes of a huge swathe of young people and generation who had grown up with the Beatles as the world around them dramatically changed would never be the same again. Leaving aside that the Beatles had to all intents already broken up before McCartney’s announcement, but not made