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Posts Tagged ‘British politics’

The Royal Family Story is more than mere soap opera

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, January 15th 2020

The world of 2020 is filled with important events and news: the Iran-US conflict, Australian bush fires sweeping the continent, and the ongoing Brexit process.

Yet what story has dominated the UK media to a claustrophobic and obsessional degree in the early days of the new year? The answer is none of the above but the ongoing crises of the Royal Family engendered by Harry and Meghan’s declaration of semi-independence.

This saga has nearly everything for the modern media including familiar reference points, well-known characters (some loved more than others), and a rich back history.

More than this the royal obsession goes to the heart of what Britain is and what it represents, its established elite history and traditions, the protection and veneration of old and new monies, while offering an alternative and enduring concept of power and legitimacy to the democratic will. And if that were not enough it also engages with class, inter-generational relationships and rivalries, sexism and racism. Read the rest of this entry »

The future of Labour matters to everyone – and to Scottish self-government

Gerry Hassan

Sunday National, January 5th 2020

Nearly a month ago Labour stumbled to one of the worst defeats in its history. Yet the weeks after the calamity of the election of a Boris Johnson government with an overall majority of eighty seats, have seen Labour no further forward in recognising the scale of its reverse or how much it needs to change.

This matters – for, despite everything, Labour still matter. They are still by far the principal opposition to the Tories at Westminster and the only feasible alternative UK government. What they say and do matters across the UK, in Scotland, and in debates on the constitution, democracy and Scottish independence.

Labour experienced a seismic electoral setback on 12 December; the extent of which was so deep and profound that many of the party’s leading lights are struggling to come to terms with its sheer scale.

2019 was Labour’s fourth election defeat in a row – something that the party, as a national force since 1918, only ever experienced once before in 1992. Then the party under Neil Kinnock thought it was about to defeat the Tories under John Major, only to be shocked at the last minute as the polls were proven wrong. Read the rest of this entry »

The Long Game of Scotland’s Independence Referendum: 2020 and Beyond

Gerry Hassan

Sunday National, December 29th 2019

Scotland is on the move. The First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has requested that the Scottish Parliament be given the legal powers from Westminster to hold a future independence referendum, and has written to Boris Johnson asking him to enter into serious negotiations.

The case for a second indyref is based on Scotland voting to remain in the UK, and being told that this was the only way for Scotland to remain in the EU. In 2016, Scotland voted 62:38 to remain in the EU, only be taken out by the UK-wide 52:48 vote without any real recognition of Scotland’s democratic wishes. Consecutive elections at Holyrood and Westminster have given the SNP and pro-independence forces parliamentary majorities culminating in the SNP triumph in the 2019 election.

The Scottish Government wants to hold an indyref before the end of 2020 and to do this by an agreed legal basis via a Section 30 order – the part of the Scotland Act 1998 which allows the Scottish Parliament to pass laws in reserved matters such as constitutional matters – and which needs Westminster’s agreement. This was the framework of the 2014 vote. Read the rest of this entry »

Time to Decide: Scottish Labour and the Independence Question

Gerry Hassan

Sunday National, December 22nd 2019

This week reality hit the Labour Party in Scotland. In the aftermath of yet another disastrous election defeat senior figures in the party have decided to question Labour’s long held opposition to an independence referendum, believing they should champion Scotland’s right to self-determination.

Paul Sweeney, Monica Lennon and Neil Findlay as well as others have indicated that the party cannot be seen as standing for Westminster minority rule and against the democratic right of the Scottish people. There was a backlash against these pronouncements. The last representative of the once mighty Westminster Scottish Labour battalions – Ian Murray – indicated that he was ready to fight to the end stating with candour that ‘The Labour Party in 2014 destroyed itself by campaigning for Scotland to stay in the UK because it was the right thing to do and I’m sure the Scottish Labour Party would do the same again.’

Labour are not moving to consider a pro-independence position. Instead, they are debating accepting that the Scottish people have the right to decide their own future. This leaves the door open for what will become Labour’s future stance on independence and the constitutional question. There are at least five distinctive positions – all with costs. Read the rest of this entry »

My Favourite Books of 2019

Gerry Hassan

December 22nd 2019

This is a list of my favourite books of the year. It is the fifth year in a row I have done this – and undertaken separate book and music lists – the latter coming in the next day. It is a totally subjective and idiosyncratic list: made up things I have read, come across, been involved in or inspired by and which have stopped me and made me think.

The biggest reason I do these lists is for my own enjoyment: looking back and reflecting on reading and listening, and making sense of these areas of culture. It helps me further enjoy and immerse myself in the books and music in question. And also it is great from the unsolicited comments I have got that there are people out there who get something out of this exercise. So without further ado ….

SCOTLAND: POLITICS AND CULTURE:

Jemma Neville, Constitution Street: Finding hope in an age of anxiety, 404 Ink.

This timely book is about place, people, voice and the fabric of democracy. Take one street in Scotland – Constitution Street, Edinburgh – and listen to the people there and use it as a starting point for reflecting about the wider canvas and environment we live in.

William Knox and Alan McKinlay, Jimmy Reid: A Clyde-Built Man, Liverpool University Press.

Jimmy Reid is a Scottish icon and inspiration and at last he gets a biography worthy of his life and impact. Well-researched and written, Knox and McKinlay throw fresh light on the journey of a section of the Scottish left and an extraordinary individual of his time but with lessons for the present. 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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