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Posts Tagged ‘British politics’

Enoch Powell’s Ghost and Bigotry still haunts modern Britain

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, April 17th 2018

This week sees the 50th anniversary of Enoch Powell’s infamous ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech which occurred on April 20th 1968, with the BBC deciding to recreate it and broadcast on ‘Archive on 4’ – read by actor Ian McDiarmid.

The speech has never been broadcast before in full, and this decision hasn’t been without controversy, both before and afterwards. It was an extraordinary experience to hear this much cited, even legendary, speech in its entirety – 45 minutes of powerful, passionate, and shockingly over the top and insensitive language – as it was delivered decades ago to Conservative Party members in the Midland Hotel, Birmingham.

Powell, then Tory MP for Wolverhampton South West and Shadow Secretary of Defence in Ted Heath’s Shadow Cabinet, made the case that immigration from the Commonwealth was irreversibly changing Britain for the worse. His language was a mixture of his classically trained mind, combined with the confidence and arrogance of Britain’s ruling class, and a populism which he felt was needed given the scale of problems the country faced. It took place only days after Martin Luther King had been assassinated; Powell had just visited the States, and become convinced that the US divisions on race provided a premonition of a horrendous British future. Read the rest of this entry »

The View of Britain from Europe: A Perspective from Lublin

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, March 21st 2018

Europe feels very different when viewed from its eastern borders. This week I have been travelling across Europe and staying for several days in the beautiful Polish city of Lublin – 95 miles from Warsaw, in the south-east of the country, not far from the Polish-Ukrainian border.

Lublin is a proud city with a rich history and sense of its past importance. It currently has a population of 349,103 and four universities, numerous colleges and lots of successful and impressive businesses and start-ups. It has also seen a lot of changes – with numerous different political masters down the years from being part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania to being under the authority of Austria-Hungary, then Russia, and occupied by Nazi Germany.

All of this has given the city a varied but sometimes painful history. On 7 November 1918 at the conclusion of the First World War as a separate Polish state re-emerged, Lublin was the site for Ignacy Daszyński establishing the Provisional Government for the People’s Republic of Poland.

The inter-war Polish state was recognised at Versailles but given a tragic hand by history, being sandwiched between the two rising tyrannies of Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, who agreed to dismember the country in the infamous Molotov-Rippentrop Pact agreed on 23 August 1939. This pact was the basis for the Nazi invasion of Poland on 1 September, and hence the beginning of the Second World War, and on 17 September, the Soviet invasion. Read the rest of this entry »

As Brexit Britain heads for the rocks what does Corbyn’s Labour stand for?

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, March 14th 2018

The diminished global status of Britain and our future post-Brexit has been on display in the last few days. The attempted murder of Sergei Skripa and his daughter Yulia and the possible role of Russian authorities; the visit of the Saudi Arabian Crown Prince, and the continued saga of Donald Trump’s unpredictable, erratic Presidency from trade wars to his state visit, all illustrate the challenges a diminished UK will face in the aftermath of Brexit.

Twenty-one months on from the Brexit vote we have no clear plan or detail from the UK Government. Indeed, the kind of Brexit and Britain which the UK Government represents is nothing more than a sketch and vague principles, much to the increasing consternation of the EU and the remaining 27 nation-states.

Brexit is full of contradictions, tensions and paradoxes. Can the fabled Tory Party with its reputation for statecraft really be reduced to its current incompetence and divisions? This has come after decades of Tory appeasement of Euroscepticism, culminating in David Cameron’s infamous pledge in 2013 to hold an in/out referendum: a pledge he though he would never have to deliver; then followed by his attempt to secure renegotiated terms of EU membership – with echoes of Harold Wilson in 1975; and subsequent referendum campaign and Brexit triumph. Read the rest of this entry »

The Revolution has not been televised: And why mainstream politics and media prefers not to talk about it

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, March 7th 2018

Switch on your TV news these days and you will find, when they get past the poor weather and Royal Family announcements, that the world doesn’t exactly feel a happy place. There is disorder, division and disaster seemingly everywhere, but also very little attempt to make sense of why much of this happening.

Last week the BBC news and current affairs programme ‘This Week’ hosted by Andrew Neil began with a film and discussion led by historian David Starkey. His thesis was that Britain has experienced a revolution in recent times, arguing that ‘For the last twenty years we’ve had a revolution by stealth, not in our streets, but our values’. He went on to claim that ‘a generation brought up with no rules and no religion, has lurched with quasi-religious fervor into a puritanical groupthink where debate is stifled and difference of opinion cannot be tolerated.’

Starkey stated that this was a ‘revolution’ in which ‘things had been turned upside down’, and whilst recognising it contained some good aspects (from his own experience as a gay man) he believed this was an age where politics had ‘a new pseudo religious intensity’ and a ‘puritan revolution’. In his view this contributed to ‘a complete revolution of values – between the sexes … the transgendering issue, the unmentionable has become enforceable … [and] … moral values have inverted.’ Read the rest of this entry »

Time to Wake Up and Ask Some Difficult Questions abut the SNP and Independence

Gerry Hassan

Bella Caledonia, January 23rd 2018

‘What Do You Do When A Society Lies to Itself?’ So said writer Umair Haque this week in the context of the constitutional standoff in Trump’s America. But it is true of most nations most of the time; certainly it is true of today’s UK – and also of modern Scotland.

Scottish politics are currently in what can only be described as a phoney war – a becalmed period of inertia and inactivity in-between the storms that buffet politics. Everyone is waiting to see how Brexit pans out. This is central to how the SNP and Scottish Government see things. They are sitting, anticipating the debris that flows from Brexit and the implications for independence. Unfortunately, this is a politics of passivity, and even of acceptance, that others (the UK Government, EU negotiators) will determine the political environment.

Added to this, since the indyref, a problematic mix of complacency, and even self-deception, has befallen too many independence supporters. For one, the SNP leadership has failed to grasp the political momentum post-2014. Nicola Sturgeon has not made one strategic gambit since the indyref and her election as SNP leader and First Minister – beyond the March 2017 attempt to advance a second indy referendum, in which she was out-manoeuvred by Theresa May and the UK Government. 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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