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Posts Tagged ‘Boris Johnson’

Westminster and the Scottish Parliament: Who speaks for Scotland and who will decide its future?

Gerry Hassan

The Audience, January 22nd 2020

As expected Boris Johnson has said no to Nicola Sturgeon and her demand for a second Scottish independence referendum.

This will not be any surprise to anyone in the SNP, all those living in Scotland, or anyone who follows politics. It all had the air of inevitability, with only the tone and certainty of Johnson’s refusal having any element of surprise – born of the confidence of the recent election victory and his majority of 80 seats.

Constitutional stand-offs such as this, involving the UK and Scottish Governments at loggerheads, are not the sort of things we are used to in the UK. This is unchartered territory that raises the questions of what is going on, what is driving each government, and what if any are the long term consequences – for Scotland and the UK, and the causes of independence and the union?

The background to this is that Scotland held an indyref in September 2014 which resulted in a 55:45 vote for the union. The referendum had been agreed by the Scottish and UK Governments with the latter agreeing a Section 30 order – from the Scotland Act 1998 – to temporarily devolve the power to hold a vote on independence, normally a reserved matter. Subsequently, while the UK voted in June 2016 by 52:48 to leave the EU, Scotland voted 62:38 to remain, with the SNP subsequently claiming a mandate to have another independence vote – which would require Westminster agreement. Read the rest of this entry »

Why Boris Johnson cannot say no forever

Gerry Hassan

Sunday National, January 19th 2020

Thirty years ago the Proclaimers sang ‘What do you do when Democracy’s all through? What do you do when minority means you?’

This was the environment in Scotland after Thatcher’s third term victory of 1987. The Proclaimers caught the denial of democracy and sense of powerlessness many felt in the face of that political juggernaut. They also gave voice to the need to name the democratic crisis of the UK as such and its impact on Scotland, while emphasising our collective refusal to acquiesce to it.

Many feel that these sentiments resonate down through the years to the present. They feel that Scotland is trapped and that democracy is being denigrated. All of this raises the questions: what do we do after Boris Johnson has said no? Can he really go on indefinitely saying no? And how should the Scottish Government and wider independence movement respond?

Johnson’s defiant stand follows on from two years of Theresa May saying ‘now is not the time’. The latter was obviously playing for time: a hope that something would somehow turn up which would change events north of the border. Read the rest of this entry »

The Long Game of Scotland’s Independence Referendum: 2020 and Beyond

Gerry Hassan

Sunday National, December 29th 2019

Scotland is on the move. The First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has requested that the Scottish Parliament be given the legal powers from Westminster to hold a future independence referendum, and has written to Boris Johnson asking him to enter into serious negotiations.

The case for a second indyref is based on Scotland voting to remain in the UK, and being told that this was the only way for Scotland to remain in the EU. In 2016, Scotland voted 62:38 to remain in the EU, only be taken out by the UK-wide 52:48 vote without any real recognition of Scotland’s democratic wishes. Consecutive elections at Holyrood and Westminster have given the SNP and pro-independence forces parliamentary majorities culminating in the SNP triumph in the 2019 election.

The Scottish Government wants to hold an indyref before the end of 2020 and to do this by an agreed legal basis via a Section 30 order – the part of the Scotland Act 1998 which allows the Scottish Parliament to pass laws in reserved matters such as constitutional matters – and which needs Westminster’s agreement. This was the framework of the 2014 vote. Read the rest of this entry »

The 2019 election and the End Games of Imperial Britain

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, December 17th 2019

The 2019 UK election campaign had few memorable moments, but despite this the result will have implications for most of us for the rest of our lives.

Maybe this is what ugly history looks like. The phrase ‘British politics’ is now a misnomer. There is no real UK-wide politics, rather a distinct four nations politics, and within this all kinds of divisions and cleavages – of young and old; within the working class; in education and housing; and between and within cities, towns and rural areas.

A stark contrast is the different UK and Scottish mandates. Boris Johnson’s Tories were elected with 43.6% of the vote, 365 seats and an overall majority of 80. This is the highest Tory vote since 1979 and first overall working majority since 1987. Caveats should be made. For all the media hype of Johnson’s appeal to former Labour voters, he and his government remained throughout the campaign hugely unpopular by historic standards – with Johnson as unpopular as John Major was in the 1997 Labour landslide. Read the rest of this entry »

Daring to be Different: Scotland’s politics and culture of independence

Gerry Hassan

Sunday National, December 15th 2019

Scotland after the fourth Tory election victory in a row is never a happy place.

But in 1992 it felt desolate, soul-destroying and potentially hopeless with no sign of an exit route. Whereas in 2019, and for all the horrors of facing a Tory Government elected with a sizeable working majority, it does feel very different. That is because of the existence of the Scottish Parliament, the politics of its centre-left majority, and the prospect of an escape hatch via independence.

2019 seems more substantial as a Scottish result than 2015. That was a high watermark and called ‘a tsunami’ at the time. This seems much deeper, considered and sustainable – confirmation if needed that Scotland marches to a different beat.

The SNP have now won three Westminster elections in a row. The party won 45% of the vote, its second highest vote ever at a Westminster contest. It won 48 seats – taking seven from the Conservatives, six from Labour – reducing them to the sole Iain Murray, and one from the Lib Dems in taking the scalp of Jo Swinson, while losing Fife North East.

With success comes new expectations, challenges and pressures and it is clear that the SNP official line which, over the past five years post-2014 has often seemed about management, control and not quite being sure what to do with the energies and passions of independent supporters, will have to adapt to new circumstances, shaped by winning even more emphatically. Read the rest of this entry »