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Posts Tagged ‘British history’

Be Clear Who Britain is Great For

Gerry Hassan

The Scotsman, January 18th 2014

The independence debate is about many things – politics, practicalities, personalities.

More than this it is about emotions – ranging from hope and fear, to anger, indignation and even incomprehension.

We have heard enough about the supposedly ‘Braveheart’ idea of Scottish independence, but what of the emotional case for Britain and the union?

There is still a powerful, resonant argument for the UK in its present form which has appeal and a rationale, albeit a declining one. This week Chris Deerin in ‘The Guardian’ (in a piece republished from the Scottish Daily Mail) attempted upon his return to Scotland to lay out such a case, and was backed up the redoubtable Alex Massie a day later. Read the rest of this entry »

A Rare Moment of Wisdom at the Heart of British Democracy

Gerry Hassan

The Scotsman, August 31st 2013

Parliamentary debates about military intervention are often rightly solemn occasions. They carry the weight of history and memories of past triumphs and disasters.

The Syria debate this week had initially been downplayed by the Cameron government as it faced the realities of parliamentary arithmetic and the possibility of defeat. But this was historic, evoking past even more momentous debates, and opening a chapter in British foreign policy which could see military intervention in Syria without the UK.

The entire parliamentary debate on Syria was coloured with the shadow of Tony Blair and Iraq hanging over it. At times in the last week it seemed like Groundhog Day Britain replaying the tensions, controversies and even the same terminology as March 2003 over Iraq.

There was the veracity and claims of intelligence, the issue of legal advice from the Attorney General, the role of the United Nations, and parliamentary approval (or non-approval as it turned out). There was even the intervention of Tony Blair, making the case for war and democracy (the last of which extended to support for the Egyptian military coup). Read the rest of this entry »

Britain – no longer the land of the future, but one living in the past

Gerry Hassan

The Scotsman, July 27th 2013

Once upon a time many years ago, like many other Scots, I believed in Britain.

Britain seemed the future: it had appeal, appeared modern, progressive and full of promise.

That now seems a world away from the Britain of today: one which looks to have given up on the future and instead appears content to live permanently in a fictitious past.

This is the fantasyland Britain we see before us this week – of a society, culture and media obsessed with celebrating the birth of Kate and William’s royal baby and third heir to the throne. And this Sunday is the anniversary of the onset of the First World War which will be officially commemorated next year. 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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