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Posts Tagged ‘2016 Scottish Parliament Elections’

Dundee: City of Discovery and the West Dunbartonshire Question

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, April 13th 2016

Dundee, Scotland’s fourth city is on the move. It is often forgotten about or even patronised by those in the Central Belt – ‘it is a place I have only passed through’ is a regular refrain I have heard over the years – and is still seen by many, as my astute Dundonian Auntie Betty observes, as a ‘Cinderella city’.

In reality contemporary Dundee is a hive of energy, optimism and purpose. The V&A is coming, Malmaison is already making a mark, and there is a welter of activity and investment in the Waterfront beside the Tay Road Bridge.

While Dundee looks to the future, it also showcases its past – with the McManus Galleries refurbished, and Dundee’s Jute Museum (Verdant Works) portraying the complex contribution that this product has made to the wealth, commerce and working class history of the city. Could a genuine ‘Dundee: City of Discovery’ replace its reputation as Scotland’s most forgotten and neglected city? Read the rest of this entry »

Scotland the Brave No More on Taxation

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, April 10th 2016

One theme has dominated this week in Scotland and the UK – taxation.

From April 6th 2016 the Scottish Parliament gained powers over a Scottish rate of income tax representing half of all income tax raised – and from next year it will have complete power over all this revenue.

The leak of the Panama Papers lifted a veil on the activities of the super-rich including 12 existing or former national leaders. David Cameron’s late father’s offshore tax arrangements became public, forcing Cameron’s office to make five statements on his tax affairs.

A new debate started among Scotland’s parties as they attempt to micro-differentiate; to show if they aren’t the Tories that they can mitigate ‘austerity’, and mark out alternative public spending choices.

Much of this is problematic. It is about relatively small amounts of money: Labour claiming to raise up to £110 million from a 50p tax rate on those over £150k; Lib Dems of £475 million with a 1p rise in the basic rate. Read the rest of this entry »

Rainbow Nation Scotland

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, April 6th 2016

Scotland is a land of tolerance and acceptance in at least one respect.

Four out of six leaders of our main political parties are lesbian, gay or bisexual. Plus the Secretary of State for Scotland.

This is a far cry from the Scotland of old. Only sixteen years ago there was the near cultural war over Section 28/Clause 2a, centred on the supposed ‘promotion’ of homosexuality in schools, passed by the Thatcher Government in 1988. This episode saw Brian Souter and Jack Irvine lead a campaign against abolition which was nasty, illiberal and filled with fear and prejudice, and which hit a popular cord with parts of the public.

This Scotland was a land nervous and unsure of itself – doubting its attitudes on sexuality and homosexuality, but also much more. Whereas today, Scotland couldn’t seem more different and at ease in these areas. This is the country with the most lesbian, gay and bisexual leaders of political parties anywhere in the world, and was recently rated as the best country in Europe in terms of legal equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

How has this happened? And how do we describe and understand such change? There is, for example, an element now of complacency and conformity in some strands of society – of assuming everything has changed for the better and that much or most of the struggle for equality socially (if not economically) has been won and is irreversible. Read the rest of this entry »

In the age of constant fear facts and figures matter

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, March 27th 2016

The Scottish Parliament broke up this week – ending the fourth parliamentary term and marking the start of the election campaign.

These are strange times. Politicians try to reassure us that everything will be alright, while they scare us witless about the threat of terrorism to national security.

Well-practiced lines are filled with contradictions. The UK is the fifth richest economy in the world. Yet, our future fate supposedly hangs on the verdict of the EU referendum, and if voters dare to vote for leaving we would be taking that proverbial ‘leap in the dark’ – the same one invoked in the indyref.

This is an age of contested facts and figures: of hyperbole, hysteria and manufactured fear. Key drivers are the decline of old class and political terms, the attack on the social contract between government and voters across the West, and the never-ending war on terror. Read the rest of this entry »

Scotland needs a Parliament with more radical voices

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, March 13th 2016

Nearly everyone assumes an SNP victory in the forthcoming Scottish elections.

There is a battle for second place between Labour and the Tories, while the leftovers will be fought over by the Lib Dems, Greens, UKIP and new left RISE.

An SNP majority government seems likely. The odds on the Nationalists winning every one of the 73 constituency seats are decent. There is the distinct prospect that they won’t quite manage it – with the Tories and maybe even Labour holding out in one or two places.

A significant amount of energy and expectation is being put into the return of a SNP majority, with supporters calling for a campaign of ‘both votes SNP’, and trying to closing down any kind of debate.

We have to ask however if majority government is a good thing in a Parliament elected by PR and with no second chamber? Does it aid better politics? And does the SNP deserve to be elected as a majority again? 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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