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Posts Tagged ‘British Establishment’

Class still defines and disfigures Britain and Scotland

Gerry Hassan

Sunday National, November 24th 2019

Class still matters and defines much of Britain and Scotland. It shapes life chances, educational opportunities, work advancement and careers, health, life expectancy, culture, politics – and who makes and does not make the key decisions in society.

Dr. Fiona Hill, the British-born US public servant, spoke this week at the Trump impeachment hearings about being born in Bishop Auckland in the north of England, saying: ‘This country [the US] offered me opportunities I would never have had in England. I grew up poor with a very distinctive working class accent. In England in the 1980s this would have impeded my professional advancement.’

It wasn’t meant to be like this. John Major spoke of the ‘classless society’ and John Prescott just before the 1997 election asserted that ‘we’re all middle class now’. Yet, earlier this year Tony Blair defending his Premiership stated ‘we made the UK more equal’, only to be corrected by the Institute for Fiscal Studies who commented that Labour had not achieved this. Read the rest of this entry »

Jeremy Corbyn’s Moment of Reckoning and the Fears of the British Establishment

Gerry Hassan

Sunday National, August 25th 2019

Next week another critical Brexit moment happens when Jeremy Corbyn calls together all the opposition parties at Westminster, to plan to win a vote of no confidence against Boris Johnson’s government to stop a No Deal Brexit.

Jeremy Corby has offered to lead a temporary minority government that would aim to extend the Article 50 notice period, hold an election and referendum. This is high stake politics, with the nature of Brexit, the future of political parties and leaders, as well as the continuation of the UK, all in doubt.

A vote of no confidence in Johnson is on a knife-edge. Leave aside that Johnson has not yet dared to subject his new administration to winning a parliamentary mandate. This is because he has a fragile majority of one seat when he adds the ten DUP MPs to the Tory tally. This expands to a ‘notional’ three seats on a vote of confidence as one independent unionist, Sylvia Hermon, has said she will never vote to facilitate a Corbyn government. Read the rest of this entry »

The Royal Family, Britishness and Living in Disneyland

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, May 23rd 2018

The Royal Family are an important part of what it means to be British, and whether you like them or loath them, they are one of the few remaining national symbols of cohesion which unite lots of people.

Yet the monarchy is more popular in some places than others. A recent Delta Poll for Policy Exchange showed that support for the monarchy ranged from 55% in England to 52% in Northern Ireland, 49% in Wales and 46% in Scotland. Asked if the monarchy was a unifying force after Brexit, 57% of respondents in England said it was, while Scotland was the only part of the UK where there was no majority for such sentiment with 46% support.

It is still true with these important caveats that the Royals are currently enjoying a wave of popularity – aided by the marriage of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, but also on the back of the Queen’s survival, sense of duty, and even public silence on most issues. The Queen has been in public life for 62 years, while keeping an air of mystery about herself and what her own inner thoughts and beliefs are on most things. Read the rest of this entry »

The UK as we know it can’t survive Brexit and Trump

Gerry Hassan

The 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 views of Corbyn as a leader, this has and is costing the UK dear, and has long-term damaging consequences.

One of these is that the UK – as currently composed – has very little future. To compound the international and national challenges the UK faces, has to be added one based on the territorial dimensions of the state, the failure of the political centre to understand this, and the decline of any popular account of unionism which tells a story about the future of the UK. Read the rest of this entry »

Why Scotland has finally woken up and become a democracy

Gerry Hassan

September 21st 2014

It has been an incredible few years to live in Scotland.

Assumption after assumption about public life, society and the closed order of how politics has been traditionally done, has been turned upside down.

People will still feel raw on either side. Yes people feel deflated and disappointed; No supporters sense that they were forced into a debate they didn’t want to have. But if we step back the bigger picture is an impressive and powerful one.

It is one many of the observers from outside Scotland who came to see the independence referendum witnessed. They saw a nation having a democratic debate in dignity and respect on one of the most fundamental questions any nation could ask itself.

One group who have followed and engaged in our discussion has been English, Welsh and Irish radicals. Think Billy Bragg, John Harris, Will Hutton, Madeleine Bunting and Fintan O’Toole, all of who spoke at the recent Imagination: Scotland’s Festival of Ideas, sponsored by the Sunday Herald. 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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