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Posts Tagged ‘Brexit’

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 »

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 »

The Last UK General Election Ever? Or the Last Bar One?

Gerry Hassan

Sunday National, October 27th 2019

Boris Johnson on Monday makes what is his third attempt to get the votes to call a UK general election – needing 434 votes to win a two-thirds majority under the Fixed Term Parliaments Act.

This piece was written before the moves by the Lib Dems and SNP to bring about an election on December 9th via a simple, single line bill. This may have more chance of succeeding later this week. But whether it does or does not it doesn’t invalidate the arguments below about an election in the last months of 2019 versus early 2020.

Today we are 1,222 days after the 2016 Brexit vote. It has been a long, gruesome ordeal – longer than the totemic, heroic and bloody 872 day siege of Leningrad. But unlike that moment in history there is no end in sight to Brexit any day soon. Even if the Boris Johnson Brexit Bill or another deal made it through the Commons there are years more of deliberations, possibly lasting over a decade, still to endure.

Boris Johnson governs, if that is the right word, without a parliamentary majority. But he created this situation – despite his many complaints about it. He started with a notional majority of three; it is now minus 45. He leads an administration which took away the whip from 21 Tory MPs. Despite this in the past week, his government saw its Brexit Bill get a second reading with a majority of 30 and its forgotten Queen’s Speech with a majority of 16. Read the rest of this entry »

Tony Blair and the Road from Baghdad to Boris Johnson’s Brexit

Gerry Hassan

Open Democracy, October 26th 2019

Tony Blair, Alastair Campbell, Peter Mandelson and others from the New Labour era have of late been on our airwaves talking endlessly of the evils of Brexit and the need for a second referendum on Europe. But seldom if ever do they publicly reflect on their own disastrous role in fanning the flames which led to the current Brexit debacle.

Blair and Campbell advocated and led the case for the Iraq war – an illegal war based on a campaign of disinformation, deceit and lies that distorted the processes of government decision-making. In so doing, apart from contributing to untold deaths and misery as well as Middle East instability, in the UK they fed the corrosion of public trust and standards in public life.

We now know that the Iraq conflict was an illegal war – based on the Attorney General Lord Goldsmith’s legal advice of March 7th 2003 which he reversed ten days later. Without the Iraq war, public cynicism and distrust would not have reached the incendiary levels it did. Iraq did systematic harm to the progressive case for government, and the case for social democratic, interventionist government with the intention of aiding the public good. 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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