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Posts Tagged ‘British politics’

Could Corbyn’s Labour be the future? A work in progress, but now imaginable

Gerry Hassan

Compass, September 27th 2018

Labour conference this week is an important staging post in the new Corbyn-led, energised mass party – not just the biggest in Britain, but bigger than all the other party memberships put together.

The Jeremy Corbyn-John McDonnell leadership has been three years at the helm, and are the new establishment running and defining the party. They are now in near-total control of the party, its institutions and in tune with the expanded grass roots. This is their party now and shows no sign of changing anytime soon.

Those who are now the new outsiders are the majority of the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP): three-quarters of which tried to remove Corbyn as leader two years ago in a vote of confidence. They worry about their fate under mandatory reselection (for now postponed), long a left totem which came about in the 1980s, and saw few MPs deselected. Now many anti-Corbyn MPs worry of their future fate in a party they no longer feel comfortable in. Read the rest of this entry »

Whatever happened to the springtime for democracy?

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, September 18th 2018

Three decades ago democracy was the future and carrying all before it. The Soviet bloc was collapsing, the South African apartheid regime was crumbling – and all across South America brutal dictatorships were being replaced by democracies (however imperfect) symbolised by the fall of the Pinochet junta.

Today the state of the world could not look more different and feel less optimistic. There are still many more democracies than there even a decade ago, but somehow the springtime for people power promised three decades ago has got lost, and the promise of democracy seems to be in retreat, with authoritarian leaders and the appeal of populism on the rise.

The reasons for this are many and oft-cited: the failure to reform capitalism after the bankers crash, the decade-long stagnation in living standards across the West, the retreat of welfare states and idea of social solidarity, the inability of centre-left parties to tame turbo capitalism (or in many cases even try), and the lack of imagination in the political classes in dealing with these and other problems. All of this and more has led to Trump, Erdogan and Orban – and of course Brexit. Read the rest of this entry »

Jeremy Corbyn in Scotland: What he should say about Broken Britain

Gerry Hassan

New Statesman, August 23rd 2018

Jeremy Corbyn is in Scotland. He has problems understanding Scotland and the changing dynamics of the UK. Here is the speech he should give while here.

The backdrop to this speech is that Corbyn and his team have not been seen to understand Scotland or understand its distinct politics. The Scottish party, despite making six gains at last year’s general election (up from one seat in 2015), finished third in the polls, and no sign of recovery under Richard Leonard’s leadership looks on the cards – with the party regularly in third place in the polls behind the SNP and Tories.

Since last year’s election, the Corbyn leadership have begun to recognise that Scotland matters if they are to win a general election. Eighteen of the seats which Labour needs to win to form a majority government – and all of them need to be won from the SNP.

Scottish Labour has not gained from the Corbyn surge. It has had no major inflow of new members as in England and Wales. The people who would have joined a Corbyn led Labour in Scotland had already joined the SNP which after the indyref – expanded fivefold. Labour need to understand and reconnect with the energy and activism of left-wing independence opinion, and if it is to be listened to – develop a different politics on the constitution and future of Scotland and the UK. Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

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