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Posts Tagged ‘British Nationalism’

Brexit is aiding the break-up of Britain but this crisis has deeper roots

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, June 20th 2018

Brexit isn’t going well. Two years after the referendum vote for the UK to leave the EU there is still no agreed plan on what kind of Brexit the UK Government wants. Theresa May’s administration staggers from day to day – too weak to dare to define what it stands for – facing regular crises, critical parliamentary votes and defeats.

Last week, after Scottish affairs was reduced to 15 minutes in the House of Commons, the SNP walked out during Prime Minister’s Questions, resulting in much media comment and headlines. But as the immediate shockwaves die down – does any of this have any longer term impact?

A short summary of events so far might be helpful. The UK Government’s Brexit plans have consequences for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, with the government meant to consult the three territories on what powers come back to the nations as a result of Brexit. Northern Ireland hasn’t had a devolved government since January 2017; Wales has, after much disquiet, given its agreement, but the Scottish Government and Parliament has not agreed with the latter withholding its consent from Brexit. All parties in the Parliament – SNP, Labour, Lib Dem and Scottish Green – agreed that the Tory form of Brexit is not acceptable – with only Ruth Davidson’s Tories siding with Westminster. Read the rest of this entry »

The Good Ship Britannia Sinks Below the Waves: Scotland, Brexit and the Thoughts of Tim Shipman

Gerry Hassan

Bella Caledonia, June 13th 2018

The events of the last two days have shown how the British establishment, political classes and their supporters view the UK. There is the contempt and chaos in the Brexit process; ‘Taking Back Control’ has come down to running roughshod over parliamentary processes, Henry VIII powers, with Scotland being treated with the disdain of a mere fifteen-minute non-debate on the key Brexit bill. Similarly, crocodile tears for Northern Ireland were shown to be empty – with no debate and reference in yesterday’s session of mammoth votes for concerns about the border and the so-called ‘backstop’.

The reactions of our commentariat have been just as revealing. This is Tim Shipman, Political Editor of the Sunday Times and his description of devolution:

Powers were always owned by London and devolved down. They were never, and could never be, owned by Edinburgh. They’ll be devolved down again but legally they are in London’s gift. If you have a country, that’s how it works. You may not wish to be part of UK, but win a referendum. Read the rest of this entry »

A Scotland without Nationalism

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, April 19th 2017

Wouldn’t it be great to live in a Scotland without nationalism? That is the clarion call put forward regularly by opponents of the SNP and independence.

Nationalism is a worldwide phenomenon – although many popular discussions, including those in Scotland, take place without offering any definition. Yet, the late James Kellas spent his academic life studying nationalism, described it as:

Nationalism is both an ideology and a form of behaviour … In all cases, nationalism seeks to defend and promote the interests of the nation … Nationalist behaviour is based on the feeling of belonging to a community which is the nation. Those who do not belong to the nation are seen as different, foreigners or aliens, with loyalties to their own nations. Read the rest of this entry »

Nationalism – Scottish or British – is never enough. It always says: ‘We are the Good Guys’

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, March 8th 2017

Nationalism is one of the defining features of Scotland and modern Scotland. Last week UK Prime Minister Theresa May came north to the Scottish Tory conference in Glasgow, asking the Scots to think again, lambasting the SNP and their ‘constitutional obsessions’ and ‘tunnel vision nationalism’.

Apart from the ridiculousness of the first point, considering the UK Government’s obsession with Brexit, the second was in the tradition known the world over of majority nationalisms (British) lecturing minority nationalisms (Scottish) about the evils of nationalism. British nationalism, being the ideology of the state, doesn’t see itself or define itself as a nationalism – a story true the world over of state nationalisms: think America, Canada, Israel, literally anywhere.

The above should not be contentious, but is to many. Some unionists blow a gasket at the thought that their ism is a nationalism – British state nationalism, but such sentiments go with the territory. The blowback from London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s intervention on the similarities between Scottish nationalism and racism illustrated this. 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 »

Gerry Hassan is a writer, commentator and thinker about Scotland, the UK, politics and ideas. more >
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