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Posts Tagged ‘British Conservatives’

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 »

Democracy isn’t working: Can it be fixed?

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, December 4th 2019

Britain likes to claim to be the inventor of democracy, and England to assume the mantle of being ‘the mother of Parliaments’. These are national myths – leaving aside that the oldest national legislature in the world is the Icelandic Parliament.

The Whig story of democracy has been one of the most prominent interpretations of British and English public life and traditions. It is one which has been told and retold by enlightened and less enlightened sections of the British establishment.

It has also been uncritically championed by large elements of the British left, in Labour, the Liberals and then Lib Dems, and wider intellectual circles. They, as much as Tory and right-wing circles, have felt drawn to the story of British continuity and exceptionalism – and putting Britain at the heart of a global story for good which reflects well on life and institutions here.

This story of Britain has been a powerful and at times popular one, but it has been and become even more a self-immolating version of this country, cloaking tradition, privilege and the way things are done from a sceptical eye, let alone a radical, democratising view. It has prevented us from seeing what the UK is like, shorn of mystique and mythology. Read the rest of this entry »

History in the Making: The End of the Era of Neo-liberalism – in the UK and Globally

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, November 27th 2019

This, we are continually told, is meant to be a seismic, even historic election – usually referring to the fundamental implications of Brexit.

What is seldom addressed is that this election also signifies far-reaching change in another aspect of politics. This is the confirmation of the jettisoning of the economic assumptions which have defined UK politics for the past 40 years – sometimes described as neo-liberalism.

This shift is a continuation and reinforcement of a change witnessed in the 2017 UK election, commented upon in a few places, then forgotten. That election saw for the first time since the 1970s a contest where neither of the two big parties, Conservative or Labour, were advocates of the neo-liberal settlement.

Labour’s shift under Jeremy Corbyn is self-evident: a rupture with the compromises of New Labour, Blair and Brown. Less discussed has been the change in the Conservatives after Cameron and Osborne, and their gleeful embrace of austerity. Hence, the Tory manifesto of Theresa May, primarily written by her chief of staff Nick Timothy, contained a powerful dismissal of the politics of asocial individualism – ‘We do not believe in untrammelled individualism. We reject the cult of selfish individualism. We abhor social division, injustice, unfairness and inequality.’ Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

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 »

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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