The Tory attack on the right to vote is a threat to democracyGerry HassanThe National, 14 September 2021 The Tory Elections Bill, debated last week in the Commons, sounds on the surface like an anodyne piece of legislation, tidying up arcane procedures on voter registration, identification and how we vote. However, it is a full-fronted attack on the fabric of what passes for democracy and the right to vote, reveals the thin nature of fundamental rights in the UK, and the brazen reality that the Tories regard such rights and ‘the British constitution’ as playthings that they can
The UK is not a fully-fledged democracy: An alternative history of BritainGerry HassanScottish Review, April 14th 2021 The events of the past few days, in the aftermath of the death of Prince Philip, have brought the nature of British society, history and democracy to the fore – or rather the all-pervasive official account that is articulated day in and day out. We are continually told – sometimes subliminally and sometimes explicitly - that the monarchy is central to Britain, Britishness and our way of life and being, and that it is part of what makes us unique, stable
Britain is broken – which is both an opportunity and challenge to Scottish radicalsGerry HassanSunday National, April 4th 2021 Politics has been highly charged and combative across the UK for many years now. The British political system, its rules and codes, and how politics and power is enacted have been in decline for some time. While many in Scotland view this as proof that independence is needed as soon as possible, it is also true that Scottish politics has some soul searching to do. Recent times have seen our own controversies about party, government and power which have
The British constitution works only for the British establishmentGerry HassanSunday National, April 12th 2020 Boris Johnson has been incapacitated for most of this week which has brought up thorny questions of where political power lies in the UK, the role of the Prime Minister and the nature of the unwritten constitution. We have been repeatedly told that government is working smoothly without the Prime Minister, that cabinet government and collective ministerial responsibility are happening, and from acting-up Dominic Raab that all of this is made easier by the fact that they are all friends and allies working together.
The crisis of British democracy and Parliament isn’t going away anytime soonGerry HassanSunday 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 Fantasyland Version of Britain is alive and kicking – and driving BrexitGerry HassanScottish Review, Oct0ber 25th 2017 British democracy used to be presented as the envy of the world - the Whig version of history, the rule of law and above all the sense of continuity which was meant to differentiate the UK from its European neighbours. Such a view permeated British elites, institutions and public life. But it also informed many left-wing radicals and dissenters. One notable example was provided by the American writer Edward Shils on visiting the UK in 1953. He reflected on being
The UK as we know it can't survive Brexit and TrumpGerry HassanThe Guardian, November 17th 2016 The United Kingdom’s sense of itself and place in the world is more in question now than it was before Donald Trump’s election. It was already facing the precarious process of Brexit that has destabilised the nature of fifty years plus of UK foreign policy and international alliances. All of this should be a moment for opposition but Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour are missing in action, focusing on internal battles, and letting the struggle with the Tories slip through their fingers. Whatever the
What do we do about the British constitution?Gerry HassanThe Conversation, May 22nd 2015 There can be little doubt that Britain is on the move. This can be seen in the aftermath of the Scottish independence referendum and forthcoming European Union vote. This is a time of flux and uncertainty. While for some such as the SNP and critics of the British status quo this is a positive, for many elites and experts this produces anxieties and worries. No more is this is so than with benign liberal opinion – which believes that for every problem there should be