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Posts Tagged ‘Alex Salmond’

Speaking for Scotland: The Salmond Case, Independence and the Silences of Modern Life

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, September 5th 2018

The Salmond controversy has garnered huge press coverage. Beyond the actual cases itself, this says a lot about the state of Scotland. I am not making any assumptions about the guilt or innocence of Alex Salmond or the veracity of the accusations. This case is not just about Salmond or the allegations, but casts a wider light on some aspects of Scottish life, with certain parts of society not coming up smelling of roses.

A caveat. ‘This is what we have become’ said Kenny Farquharson. No ‘we’ have not. This is not about the ugliness and hatred in all of us, but in parts of Scotland. All societies have unsavoury opinion and haters: we have to confront ours and not give them the power of assuming they speak for all Scotland.

In this piece I concentrate primarily on the comments and attitudes of Salmond supporters – mostly the private citizens who responded to the crowdfunder, welter of comments on social media, and the odd intervention from public figures – and consider what their views tell us about what they think of the world.

  1. Salmond’s crowdfunder

Salmond’s crowdfunder was a statement of what he could do, and of what he has – status and pulling power. As Dani Garavelli wrote, ‘What was his crowdfunder, if not a display of power and popularity?’ It was a problematic action in relation to the course of justice being allowed to take its course. Glasgow University legal academic James Chalmers observed: ‘his crowdfunder does not state what decision he seeks to challenge in a JR [Judicial Review], nor what remedy he is seeking in that process’. And why does someone like Salmond need to go out with his collecting bucket to the general public? Read the rest of this entry »

Why the Alex Salmond controversy matters beyond politics

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, August 29th 2018

There has only been one story in the last few days in Scotland; that of Alex Salmond.

The substantive allegations and Alex Salmond’s response and denial of any wrong-doing have been amply catalogued. The whole controversy covers many issues – alleged wrong doing, how to deal with such sensitive subjects, the role of the media and wider politics, and how justice is done and seen to be done, including how we treat those accused as well as their accusers.

Given there has been so much media coverage, instant comment and judgement I want to look at the big picture, and specifically two areas – how people have responded, and what, if any, wider consequences may flow from this.

Take the reactions of Salmond supporters. First it should be acknowledged that the vast majority of pro-independence and SNP opinion has publicly been very respectful and careful in what it has said. Nicola Sturgeon has set an important direction in what is a test of her leadership and clearly a difficult issue for her.

For a small minority of uber-believers Salmond can do no wrong and they will stand with him seemingly unconditionally. The range of responses this has brought has been telling, from social media images of ‘When I was in trouble … Alex stood with me … Until I hear differently, I’m with Alex’ to much more. Read the rest of this entry »

Time to Wake Up and Ask Some Difficult Questions abut the SNP and Independence

Gerry Hassan

Bella Caledonia, January 23rd 2018

‘What Do You Do When A Society Lies to Itself?’ So said writer Umair Haque this week in the context of the constitutional standoff in Trump’s America. But it is true of most nations most of the time; certainly it is true of today’s UK – and also of modern Scotland.

Scottish politics are currently in what can only be described as a phoney war – a becalmed period of inertia and inactivity in-between the storms that buffet politics. Everyone is waiting to see how Brexit pans out. This is central to how the SNP and Scottish Government see things. They are sitting, anticipating the debris that flows from Brexit and the implications for independence. Unfortunately, this is a politics of passivity, and even of acceptance, that others (the UK Government, EU negotiators) will determine the political environment.

Added to this, since the indyref, a problematic mix of complacency, and even self-deception, has befallen too many independence supporters. For one, the SNP leadership has failed to grasp the political momentum post-2014. Nicola Sturgeon has not made one strategic gambit since the indyref and her election as SNP leader and First Minister – beyond the March 2017 attempt to advance a second indy referendum, in which she was out-manoeuvred by Theresa May and the UK Government. Read the rest of this entry »

The Scottish Question has not yet been answered:

The SNP, Independence and the Future of Our Nation

Sunday Herald, August 20th 2017

Gerry Hassan

SCOTTISH politics feels, and looks on the surface, becalmed at the moment. This is an age of permanent disruption – of populist movements, protests, anger, indignation, dismay and social division. This shouldn’t surprise anyone considering the politics of the last 40 years across the West: the rise of inequality and insecurity, the grand theft and appropriation of the super-rich. In the 10 years since the financial crash, the fundamentals of finance capitalism haven’t changed, while in the UK, US and elsewhere real-terms living standards have flatlined.

Scotland isn’t an exception. But there has been a growing Scottish autonomy and detachment from the rest of Britain and the direction of British politics. The idea of Britain as a political entity, not a geographical territory, is now in crisis. This means that the idea of independence – beyond the SNP’s cautious version of it – speaks to this wider canvas – of a more autonomous, distinctive Scotland which doesn’t look to Westminster for solutions or the future, whereas unionism, despite its tactical successes in the recent election, has very little positive to offer.

There is even a difference of opinion within the independence movement, not just between the SNP and those of other and no parties. This is between those who want to navigate through this age of uncertainty by emphasising security, stability and solidarity, championing worthy British values from the immediate post-war era. And those who recognise that in this era of instability, independence can only be about embracing change as the best way to articulate the Scotland of the future. Read the rest of this entry »

Alex Salmond, Showbiz and whatever happened to the politics of optimism?

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, August 16th 2017

All political leaders have a certain limited shelf life. If they are very successful and lucky they win elections, hold power and make decisions, but the public eventually grow tired and wary of their constant public presence.

The twilight years and long goodbyes of the likes of Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, Ted Heath and his thirty year grudge with Thatcher, are all examples of how difficult many find the transition. Thatcher, whatever your political views of her, won three elections in a row, and after her party overthrew her, pined for the call to return. Blair, despite his millions and acclaim from various despots, yearns for domestic political influence and has, until the June election, been making plans for a new pro-EU centrist party – which might now be off or still on.

The SNP and Scottish nationalism has played a huge part in our recent history and central to this has been Alex Salmond who led the party over two periods and twenty years: 1990-2000 and 2004 and 2014.

There are numerous achievements to his leadership in changing the SNP and Scotland permanently. First, he professionalised how the SNP conducted itself and politics, bringing a discipline and self-denying ordinance. The SNP became a party which looked outward and to win – a shift from the 1980s inward obsessions (and also with Scottish Labour’s lack of extrovert interest in winning floating voters at the time). Read the rest of this entry »

Gerry Hassan is a writer, commentator and thinker about Scotland, the UK, politics and ideas. more >
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