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Posts Tagged ‘2016 European Referendum’

The Historic Tragedy of Jo Cox and the European Referendum Campaign

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, June 21st 2016

Sometimes we should struggle to find the appropriate words. This is such a time and moment. A campaign that has already reached new lows plummeted to depths previously unimaginable with the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox.

Two thoughts. First, this is a much more exceptional tragedy than commentary has so far stated. The killing of Jo Cox is rightly said to be the first murder of a British MP since Ian Gow at the hands of the IRA in 1990.

Historically, eight MPs have been murdered in the history of the UK – six at the hands of the IRA/INLA and Irish Republicans. This underlines the unique awfulness of the death of Cox. She is the first national politician to be killed – other than by Irish Republicans – since Spencer Perceval who was assassinated in the House of Commons whilst Prime Minister in 1812. Read the rest of this entry »

This campaign is a future warning from a British Trumpland

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, June 19th 2016

The Euro campaign has been without any joy or love, and has reached depths unseen for decades in British politics – reducing complex subjects to the gutter.

This last week has been a humbling one. The tragic death of Labour MP Jo Cox, the UKIP poster ‘Breaking Point’ on the threat of mass immigration coming to the UK, and the disgraceful antics of Leave.EU (the UKIP dominated Leave campaign) linking the Orlando massacre to Muslim immigration.

It has been a long low road to this sad point. Left-wingers and liberals have for decades evaded talking about immigration. Labour, in particular, have avoided any real conversation with its voters for the last fifty years on the subject. As a result, UKIPers and right-wingers have burst through this spiral of silence, claiming ‘politically correct’ censorship, and ended up using a language of stigmatisation, populism and cheap solutions. Read the rest of this entry »

Are We Better Than This? The Tragic Killing of Jo Cox

Gerry Hassan

Bella Caledonia, June 17th 2016

This is an attack on all of us. The murder of Labour MP Jo Cox is an assault on parliamentary democracy but disgracefully not as much a shock as it should be. Part of British politics have sunk that low.

This is an age of anti-party politics – of anger at the political classes and of populist indignation and cynicism. Across Europe, there has been the rise of racist, xenophobic and anti-immigration parties, and even the re-emergence of neo-Nazis as electoral forces in Greece and Hungary. And that’s without mentioning the hideous phenomenon of Donald Trump in the US.

The centre-left and political establishments across the developed world have not known how to respond, and whether to appease or engage with their voters – or to take them head on.

Britain’s European referendum, called by David Cameron, was meant to lance the boil of the Euro issue in the Tory Party, and the threat from UKIP. It has worked in complete reverse, and little more than a year after the unexpected 2015 Tory election victory has galvinised Cameron’s critics, UKIP and Eurosceptic Tory opinion, and helped consolidate a hard right populist politics. Read the rest of this entry »

Confused by the European Debate? You should be!

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, June 5th 2016

The EU referendum is so far one of the worst political debates in my lifetime, with no sign of it improving. It is unlikely to descend to the gutter of Trump v. Clinton coming up shortly. But it still leaves a lot to be desired.

The academic Philip Cowley this week compared the referendum to ‘a shit game of football match, with little skill, in the pouring rain, on a Tuesday, but there still has to be a winner.’

There are good arguments for Remain and Leave. Remain can make the case for EU co-operation, the advantages of the single market, the EU’s contribution to peace, prosperity and democracy across the continent, and the importance of stability in an uncertain world.

Leave can put an equally valid case. The EU is the only continent in the world bar Antarctica not experiencing economic growth. It is a declining bloc as a share of world trade (30% in 1980, now 17%); its bureaucratic consensus decision-making make it slow, and it has been unable to deal with such recent crises as Greece and immigration. Read the rest of this entry »

What’s Missing from the European Referendum?

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, May 22nd 2016

As memory of the Scottish campaign fades, along comes another one: the European referendum. It is like the deregulated chaos of buses – first none, then a stampede!

We now have regular referendums. Scotland has had three, as has Wales, Northern Ireland two, and this is the third UK-wide vote. When they were first mooted in the 1970s they were called, particularly by MPs, ‘alien’, ‘unBritish’, ‘undermining of parliamentary sovereignty’, and the sort of things dictatorships do.

Since then the referendum has slowly become part of the Scottish and British constitutional furniture. There is even now an agreed set of rules in the form of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 that allows for official ‘designated’ sides, and tries to create an equal playing field in donations and spending in the short campaign.

This phenomenon is not just British, but evident across Europe and US. There are many reasons for this. There is the decline in political elites, fall in deference, spread of communications, and emergence of issues such as constitutional arrangements, environment and ethical concerns, which transcend old left-right and class divisions. 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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