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Posts Tagged ‘Boris Johnson’

Boris Johnson and the art of self-deception

Gerry Hassan

Sunday National, September 8th 2019

Boris Johnson has long had a problematic relationship with the truth. When a journalist, he was fired from ‘The Times’ for making up a quote; in the last month as UK Prime Minister he stated that he was in favour of proroguing Parliament when he publicly said he was against it, claimed to be against having an election he was planning and then for holding a contest, and saying that he is negotiating a Brexit deal with the EU, while preparing for a No Deal Brexit.

One month ago at the Edinburgh TV Festival, the head of Channel 4 news and current affairs Dorothy Byrne said that Boris Johnson was a ‘known liar’ and needed to be called out as such by news outlets. This was met with controversy in many media circles, and led to Downing Street cancelling an agreed Johnson interview on ‘Channel 4 News’.

There is a long political tradition of lying in politics: infamously in recent times, Tony Blair and the Iraq war, Bill Clinton and his ‘I did not have sexual relations with that woman’ comments in relation to Monica Lewinsky. Before that, Anthony Eden lied to the Commons on the Suez invasion and had to resign; John Profumo and the sex scandal with Christine Keeler; and Margaret Thatcher and the infamous case of the Argentinian cruiser the Belgrano which she claimed was sailing towards the British task force when it wasn’t. Read the rest of this entry »

Britain is in a mess: Is a different democracy possible?

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, September 4th 2019

Nearly everyone now agrees that British politics isn’t working – and that our political system, politicians and Parliament are in a mess and broken. Even more than this, our economic system and social contract have long ago become frayed, discredited and stopped working for the interests of the vast majority of people.

This is the context in which the country is convulsed by Brexit. Everywhere people are talking, thinking and worrying about it. Out on a Saturday night in a local Indian restaurant on Glasgow’s Southside, I sat near four men in their 30s who worked in the construction industry, who proceeded to have a thoughtful, informed conversation about Brexit, with none of them uber-partisan.

Three years of public conversation on affairs of state could be seen as a positive in many circumstances: a mass act of political education and citizenship indicating the health of the body politic. But Brexit has been the opposite of that. Such is the anger, dismay and feelings of betrayal on both the Remain and Leave sides, and as critically, mutual incomprehension of the most fanatical true believers in each tribe in the opposing side. This has resulted in the UK Parliament being in constitutional and political gridlock for the past three years. Read the rest of this entry »

The future of the Scottish Tories after Ruth Davidson

Gerry Hassan

Sunday National, September 1st 2019

One constituency consistently admired Ruth Davidson – the media. As in her eight years of Tory leadership, the same has been true of her resignation; with numerous plaudits, magnified by how the London media misunderstand and misread Scotland.

One example was provided by BBC ‘Newsnight’s’ programme on Thursday evening when Ben Chu opened his Ruth Davidson film with the proclamation: ‘She was an election winner with a gold dust appeal to millennials’, which was completely wrong in both its assertions.

In her period as leader, Davidson shook up the Scottish Tories and had a wider impact in Scotland and the UK. But how deep seated was that impact, how sustainable, and where does it leave the Tories in terms of future challenges in the increasingly choppy waters of Brexit Britain?

Conservatives under her leadership became ‘the Ruth Davidson Party’ – a party that complained about the SNP’s concern with independence, yet continually ran campaigns saying ‘Just Say No’ and ‘No Means No’. Read the rest of this entry »

The Rise and Fall of Ruth Davidson, Brexit and the Future of the Union

Gerry Hassan

Open Democracy, August 30th 2019

Ruth Davidson has been a very successful politician in one inarguable aspect. As Scottish Tory leader she was continually spoken about, commented upon and discussed in the mainstream media and, often in non-Tory circles, in a positive light.

After eight years as Tory leader in Scotland Davidson has decided that she wants to quit, for reasons both personal and political. She is 40 years old, with a new child, Finn, and plans to marry her partner Jen in the next few months. But politics matter at least as much, as despite sharing some common views in the Tory universe with Boris Johnson at least in social liberalism, the two have never hit it off. The differences between them have become a chasm in recent years over Brexit, culminating in Johnson proroguing the UK Parliament to truncate debate and prevent critical votes.

Her resignation was in the style of much of her leadership: it made UK not just Scottish media headlines and produced acres of commentary on why she has done this and the potential consequences. It has also underlined the degree to which Davidson for all her undoubted skills is a very divisive candidate, loved or loathed, and in this respect, similar to her arch adversary Nicola Sturgeon.

Thus in the immediate aftermath of her announcement the ‘Daily Mail’ were bemoaning the loss of a Scottish ‘Boadicea’, while independence supporters and anti-Tories described her as ‘the alter-ego of a super hero, she runs off at the first sign of trouble’ and someone with ‘a keen eye for the most plausibly deniable bits of Scottish middle class bigotry’. This has been the battleline for much of her leadership and in particular since the indyref campaign. Read the rest of this entry »

Jeremy Corbyn’s Moment of Reckoning and the Fears of the British Establishment

Gerry Hassan

Sunday National, August 25th 2019

Next week another critical Brexit moment happens when Jeremy Corbyn calls together all the opposition parties at Westminster, to plan to win a vote of no confidence against Boris Johnson’s government to stop a No Deal Brexit.

Jeremy Corby has offered to lead a temporary minority government that would aim to extend the Article 50 notice period, hold an election and referendum. This is high stake politics, with the nature of Brexit, the future of political parties and leaders, as well as the continuation of the UK, all in doubt.

A vote of no confidence in Johnson is on a knife-edge. Leave aside that Johnson has not yet dared to subject his new administration to winning a parliamentary mandate. This is because he has a fragile majority of one seat when he adds the ten DUP MPs to the Tory tally. This expands to a ‘notional’ three seats on a vote of confidence as one independent unionist, Sylvia Hermon, has said she will never vote to facilitate a Corbyn government. 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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