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Posts Tagged ‘Brexit’

Deal or No Deal? Brexit Endgame or the End of Britain?

Gerry Hassan

Sunday National, October 6th 2019

Boris Johnson has finally revealed his Brexit plan with less than one month to his intended exit date from the EU.

Constantly presented as a ‘deal’ by insular British political discussion and media who have contributed so much to fueling Brexit, it is in fact nothing of the sort. It is rather an agreement between Boris Johnson, the Northern Irish DUP, the Eurosceptic European Research Group (ERG) and what remains of the parliamentary Tory Party. Politics does not stop at the House of Commons or the English Channel despite recent appearances.

What does the supposed Johnson non-deal entail? Is it a real plan or just a diversion and preparation for a No Deal Brexit? And if so, what are the implications for Scotland, for the Scottish Tories implicated in this – and the independence question? Read the rest of this entry »

The crisis of British democracy and Parliament isn’t going away anytime soon

Gerry Hassan

Sunday National, September 29th 2019

The British Parliament returned to work last week – reopened after the historic Supreme Court verdict.

Its undertakings were highly charged, contentious and even abusive in language and exchange. Attorney General Geoffrey Cox sneeringly stated ‘this Parliament is dead ’ with ‘has no moral right to exist’, Boris Johnson talked dismissively of a ‘paralysed’ and ‘zombie’ Parliament, while even the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg described it as ‘exhausted and broken’.

Beyond the drama and high tension, one emerging question is what is the appropriate role and purpose of the UK Parliament? How can, and should, it best exercise power – and hold government to account? What is the appropriate role of MPs? Is it to reflect on their own views and bring their expertise to any issue, or to listen and represent the views of their constituents? And how does representative democracy live alongside the popular democracy of a referendum?

Is Parliament flexing its muscles and showing that there can be a new rebalancing of power between legislature and executive? Or is what is emerging an unsustainable, uncontrollable mess where making clear decisions will increasingly prove more and more difficult? Read the rest of this entry »

David Cameron: Britain’s worst post-war Prime Minister so far

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, September 25th 2019

David Cameron has been on our airwaves and TV screens a lot in the past week punting his autobiography ‘For the Record’.

We last saw and heard from ‘call me Dave’ a while ago as he has been away in his shed writing his memoirs and waiting for an appropriate moment in the political storms when they could be published.

It was only three and a half years ago that Cameron was UK Prime Minister, resigning the morning after the Brexit vote, and it already feels like a long time. The politics of Cameron-Osborne, intent of the ‘Cameroon Conservatives’ and the coalition between the Tories and Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems, does seem now like a very different political age, yet we are still living with the many consequences of this period.

‘For the Record’ is a strange book. Its tone is a mixture of arrogance, unsureness and at times apologetic. Cameron wants to give the impression that he is reflective – given the albatross hanging over him that he has left the rest of us with – but he cannot quite bring himself to fully embrace this. Read the rest of this entry »

‘Downton Abbey’ Britain: Living with the Ghosts of an Imagined Past

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, September 18th 2019

‘Downton Abbey’: The Movie opened last weekend in the UK. It came at the end of a tumultuous week with the UK Parliament suspended, the UK government found to have acted unlawfully, and the Prime Minister accused of having misled the Queen.

This isn’t how Britain is meant to behave, and certainly not as portrayed in the cinematic version offered in ‘Downton Abbey’ and other period dramas. The popularity of such productions says something about the state of modern day Britain, and how it is represented and portrayed. This selective, mythologised version of the past is also increasingly framing the present – and our future.

The ‘Downton Abbey’ film is situated in 1927, one year after the General Strike and – despite the nods at division and turbulence such as trouble in the North of England, Communists, Ireland and republicanism, as well as wider anti-monarchial views – presents an England where class, hierarchy and order are defining values. Read the rest of this entry »

The Queen’s role in politics is one of the last remnants of feudalism

Gerry Hassan

Sunday National, September 15th 2019

The Queen has been publicly involved in politics in the past few weeks on an unprecedented scale. There has been Boris Johnson’s suspension of the UK Parliament, the nature of his advice to the Queen, the Court of Session judgement calling his actions ‘unlawful’, followed by Johnson saying when asked if he mislead the monarch: ‘absolutely not’.

The Queen is the public front of an intricate, complex institution called ‘the Crown’. As any watchers of the Netflix series of the same name will understand, this entity sits at the centre of the British establishment and its networks of power and influence, and is staffed by a host of experienced, but nearly always discreet, advisers and courtiers who work for the royal household and Queen.

There are also what are called Crown powers or the Crown prerogative. This is the ancient ways that government has been run in the UK, once practiced by the monarch, but which have come to be used by the executive, and in reality, the Prime Minister, rather than Parliament. Tony Benn described the royal prerogative as ‘the final guarantee that democratic decisions by Parliament and the people could never be allowed to undermine the hierarchical and semi-feudal system we have.’ 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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