Tags
| | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | |

What should we talk about to make Scotland a place we are proud to call home?

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, August 7th 2019

There is only one subject on the lips of many this week: independence and Michael Ashcroft’s 52:48 poll. This is the Scotland of 2019 – twenty years of the Scottish Parliament, five years since the indyref, nine years of Tory-led government, and with less than 90 days to the prospect of a ‘No Deal Brexit’.

We have also had twelve years of SNP Government. Once upon a time its admirers talked of its competence and sure touch, but they do less now. The passing of time and pressures of office have had a cost, and even though the SNP is still by far the most popular party in the country, the sense of political attrition and wear and tear on the administration is palpable.

There are obvious shortcomings in the SNP record and in their style of government, talk of widespread disquiet within and across the party, concerns about the style of Nicola Sturgeon’s leadership, and despite the poll above, huge worries about the absence of any strategy in relation to independence. Most of these sentiments are expressed quietly and in private, but with a sense of vacuum and drift, other issues become more divisive, such as the trans issue and Gender Recognition Act, which has seen bitter exchanges between senior figures in the party. Read the rest of this entry »

The Rise, Fall and Rise Again of Council Housing across Scotland and the UK

Gerry Hassan

Sunday National, August 4th 2019

Council housing once defined much of Scotland – geographically, culturally, and how people saw themselves and lived.

In 1975 54% of Scottish homes were council owned; in England one-third of households then lived in local authority housing. This turned out to be the apex of council housing here and across the UK – with the council stock now forming a little over a quarter of homes in Scotland and significantly less in England.

Today it is no longer the case that council housing defines most of Scotland. The story of this decline is complex, in which the Thatcher Government and right to buy plays a major role, but isn’t the entire picture. There are wider issues about changing society and expectations, while cuts in local government and housing provision began under the Labour Government of Jim Callaghan in the 1970s. Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

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 >
Recommended Blogs