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Posts Tagged ‘Compass’

Can Scottish Labour clear up the mess it has got itself into?

Gerry Hassan

Compass, April 30th 2015

Something amazing is happening in the UK general election in Scotland. Its campaign and mood is so different from the rest of the UK. Voters are animated and engaged: one survey predicting 85% certain to vote, 20% more than the highest figures in England.

The old certainties have gone. Whereas once Scotland returned a block of 40-50 MPs to Westminster, and nothing of any real significance happened here, now the entire world has been turned upside down. Instead of a Scottish Labour lead over the SNP of 20% plus, we now have a SNP lead over Labour of a minimum 20%, with the last three polls showing leads of 25%, 32% and 34%, while SNP support has been over 50% in all three. Even if, as many expect, these polls narrow a bit, something major is happening north of the border which could have huge consequences for the future of the Labour Party and UK.

It all used to be so different. Scottish Labour once defined Scotland. It gave birth to British Labour, to many of its early pioneers and campaigners, provided part of the party’s radicalism in the 1920s, and in more modern times, in the 1980s, gave stability and ballast to the party when it was pushed back into its electoral heartlands. Read the rest of this entry »

Breaking the Grip of ‘Fantasy Island Britain’:

Social Justice, Scotland and the UK

Compass, March 15th 2012

Gerry Hassan

The Scottish independence debate has many dimensions, Scottish, English, British, European and global. It is also one that the insular London political class and media have only episodically covered the last forty years, being content to rest on ‘Braveheart’ and romantic, restless nationalist stereotypes.

It is then timely and apposite that the Fabian Society in association with Compass held a discussion under the theme, ‘Debating the Scottish Independence Referendum: What Future for the United Kingdom?’ with Labour MPs, Jon Cruddas, Anas Sarwar, Deputy Leader of Scottish Labour, and Gemma Doyle, along with myself, in the Houses of Parliament this week.

The evening showed some of the many comfort zones and delusions which Scottish Labour still hold to after its 2011 Scottish Parliament election humiliation. The two Scottish Labour MPs and Anas Sarwar in particular, spoke a language of renewal and urgency but which seemed mostly devoid of real political understanding or content. Read the rest of this entry »

The Strange Death of Labour Scotland

Gerry Hassan

Compass, May 11th 2011

Scotland is living in historic times. An election that was seen by many of us as a transition from the old Labour Scotland to a more Nationalist era, has suddenly become one of epic transformation.

Scottish Labour won a mere 31.7% of the constituency vote and 26.3% of the regional vote; it took a mere 15 out of 73 FPTP constituencies. This broke a number of unenviable records for the party; the lowest number of FPTP seats since the disaster of 1931, and the worst share of the constituency vote since 1918, before Labour became a major national party in Scotland.

This has been a long time coming. What we have seen is the slow decline of Scottish Labour: part of a long hollowing out, without a major spike or tipping point until Thursday. Devolution was always going to challenge and undermine the Labour one party state which had grown to dominate Scottish political and public life: a point no one senior in the party seemed to grasp. Read the rest of this entry »

An Open Conversation on Compass with Jeremy Gilbert

Gerry Hassan

Open Democracy, January 14th 2011


When I was at Sussex Jonathan Dollimore used to have a great riposte to ever carping postgrad who complained that he hadn’t mentioned x y or z issue in his latest paper – “Great point – now why don’t YOU go and write about that?”

Gerry you’ve been complaining for more than a year now that Compass doesn’t address these issues, but I have three points to make in response:

1) You’ve never given more than the vaguest hint as to what it would actually look like if Compass DID address those issues…so why don’t you write up some positive proposals as to how Compass’ policy and strategic agenda could be extended in line with your arguments, instead of just complaining that Neal and John or whoever haven’t done it already? Read the rest of this entry »

An Open Letter to Compass: The Problem with the British State

Gerry Hassan

Open Democracy, January 12th 2011

After Neal Lawson and John Harris wrote a call for ‘New Socialism’ in the ‘New Statesman’ (1) I responded (2). Now Neal has posted a note about what I said (3). He feels that I am being uncomradely and this upsets him as I have long been complementary of Compass’ work and have collaborated with them in a number of ways.

I consider myself a friend and admirer of Compass and its work. In these challenging times they are one of the few bright spots on the left: attempting to revitalise a left project that is in serious trouble. Given this, we need – much more than we ever have done – honest, genuine debate and discussion amongst friends that includes criticism.

It was in that spirit that I offered my original contribution: as a friend and admirer, who is also at times frustrated at the continued omissions and silences from within so much of the British left, Compass included. I find it telling that the central questions that I pointed out were missing in John Harris and Neal Lawson’s original essay – and that I challenged them to address – are still not answered, indeed they are not even acknowledged in Neal’s reply. 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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