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Posts Tagged ‘British Conservatives’

The death of British conservatism as we have known it

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, September 11th 2019

British conservatism has been one of the most successful political philosophies and political parties the world has ever known.

As we speak it is engaged in the latter stages of its thirty year civil war on Europe, which has convulsed the party, bringing it to a state of near self-destruction, abandoning its traditional tenets and debasing constitutional norms that for most of its history have been its raison d’etre.

Whatever happens on Brexit in the next few months and years, much will have long term and irreversible consequences not just for the Tories, but for the rest of us. Michael Heseltine, former deputy Prime Minister, said this week: ‘We are literally fighting for the soul of the Conservative Party’ – which is true, but the reality is actually much more serious than that.

British conservatism used to stand for, or more accurately, claimed it stood for, parliamentary sovereignty, the rule of law, being pro-business, the integrity of the UK, and protecting and projecting Britain’s geo-political interests globally. This is how it has presented and understood itself although what it has actually done and stood for has long been more complex. Read the rest of this entry »

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 Brexit Crisis and Problem with Absolute Sovereignty: From the loss of the American Colonies and Ireland to Brexit

Gerry Hassan

Bella Caledonia, July 26th 2019

Britain is not only in crisis but under Boris Johnson’s new hardline Brexit government is heading for the rocks and disaster at turbo-charged speed.

Yet with wall-to-wall mainstream media commentary on all things Brexit and Boris Johnson, a number of key characteristics are missing. The first is any understanding that Brexit is nearly entirely an English phenomenon and not only that but an expression of virulent, reactionary English nationalism. Secondly is the unpalatable reality that this nationalism didn’t emerge from nowhere but has been festering in the English body politic – witness Tom Nairn’s analysis in the mid-1970s – and for long before that.

Third, Brexit and its set of political crises have deep roots in the fissures and faultlines of the UK – of an increasingly divided kingdom, the near disappearance of any real British politics beyond Westminster, and the permanent semi-detachment of Scotland and Wales from the concerns of what are still meant to be the British governing classes. Read the rest of this entry »

British politics, Misogyny and the Prejudice which festers in the Tories

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, October 24th 2018

The political world has been seen as an abrasive, macho and male club for centuries. Across the West this has meant to have changed in the last couple of decades with record levels of women’s representation and women leaders across the world.

Yet, despite this, the male exclusivity tag still hangs over much politics. Neither the Labour Party or Liberal Democrats (or their predecessors the Liberals) have ever had a woman leader. The Tories may have given the UK two leaders and two Prime Ministers, but until recently they had a terrible record in women Tory MPs. And the total number of women elected in the last century has only just exceeded the number of men in this House of Commons.

In the year when we marked one hundred years since women first won the vote in the UK, although it took another decade for gender equality (and then another twenty years until 1948 until the UK abolished plural voting), it is a bit of a reality check for some optimists when a number of Tory MPs talk in a disgusting and unacceptable way about their leader and PM Theresa May. 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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