Tags
| | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | |

Posts Tagged ‘Contemporary Capitalism’

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 coming rebellion against the world of the Sunday Times ‘Rich List’

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, May 16th 2018

Starting in 1988, The Sunday Times ‘Rich List’ is now in its 30th year. It has survived and prospered through all sorts of political seasons and economic social periods, from the high point of Thatcherism and ‘Loadsamoney’ to New Labour’s own embracing of the super rich, and the slow turning against the grotesque excesses and indulgences of such forces. And yet here we are, nearly a decade after the banking crash and years of static and falling living standards for most, and it still exists unapologetically.

This year’s list came with a concerted attempt at spin and reinvention. It was supposedly about the fact that it was all change at the top, out with the old and in with the new – with new money, new elites, and more women. Robert Watts, who compiles the list, shamelessly punted this line:

Britain is changing. Gone are the days when old money and a small band of industries dominated. Aristocrats and inherited wealth has been elbowed out of the list. Today’s super rich include people who have set up businesses selling chocolate, sushi, pet food and eggs. Read the rest of this entry »

Ideals for Living: The need for guides on how to live a better life

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, May 2nd 2018

How many times do you hear people say that these are ‘grim times’? It has become commonplace – but a bit of perspective and history is needed. These aren’t after all as grim times in the UK, or the West, as they were in the 1980s in terms of economic dislocation and the Cold War, and nor are they anywhere as dark and foreboding times as the 1930s and the march of fascism and world war.

They are certainly times of confusion and as such many people are looking for guides, signposts and recommendations on how to live a better life. They also explain the search for simplicity and for reducing some of the most complex areas to easy to read and understand lists.

Infamously, list-ism reached beyond satire with the so-called ‘Ed Stone’ in the 2015 UK general election. Labour’s six central pledges were carved in stone to show how seriously they took them, in what quickly became a tombstone for Ed Miliband’s leadership and for Labour’s electoral fortunes.

On a different scale are the various manifestos of modern life. Some are self-promotion and vanity exercises such as Hong Kong businessman Sir David Tang, while some are send-ups of the whole industry, such as Scottish writer Bill Duncan’s ‘self-hate’ book on Calvinism, and others more serious and substantial. In the latter camp is the writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and her ‘Dear Ijeawele: A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions’, just published in paperback. Read the rest of this entry »

The World Has Been Turned Upside Down: The End of the Era of Robber Baron Capitalism

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, January 24th 2018

The world has been turned upside down in the last few weeks. Ten years after the banking crash showed that the economic assumptions which shaped most of our lives were bogus, along has come the collapse of Carillion, the biggest outsourcing company in the UK.

The taking of the public out of public services has been a long war of attrition which has been waged by all the mainstream Westminster parties. It hasn’t improved public services or benefitted the public. Instead, the winners from it have been the companies who have won such contracts, their directors and shareholders, who have made millions of pounds from the public purse.

The Public Private Initiative (PFI) and Public-Private Partnership (PPP) was born of John Major’s government, but came of age under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown: being seen as a way to engage in significant public investment while keeping it off of the government’s books. Of the 720 PFI-PPP schemes more than 75% of them were signed off under New Labour’s period in office. They liked the supposed efficiency the private sector aided, but in reality, were driven by undertaking public spending off the balance books and the dogma of thinking ‘private good, public bad’.

Most of us know that public sector monopolies can provide poor services insensitive to the needs and interests of the public. But the tales of PFI-PPP were of a new order of providing services which weren’t about the public, but creating a guaranteed income stream and scam to the vested interests of crony capitalism. Thus, PFI-PPP schemes involved grotesque inefficiencies and inflexibilities which were paid for by the public purse. Read the rest of this entry »

What part of Britain is not for sale?

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, April 3rd 2016

This week the future of the steel industry moved centrestage, Scottish parties have finally started talking tax, and the Tories version of what they call a ‘national living wage’ came into force.

British steel used to lead the world. In 1875 it accounted for 40% of world production.  The industry employed 320,000 people in 1971, which has fallen to 24,000 now. It produced 24 million tonnes in 1967, down to 12 million tonnes today.

Tata Steel – an Indian company based in Mumbai who bought Corus in 2007, an amalgamation of British Steel and a Dutch firm – employ 15,000 of the current 24,000 jobs in the UK industry.

The world has a huge steel surplus – the product of Chinese industrialisation, low costs and state subsidies. The US Government has put up protective trade barriers to protect domestic steel from Chinese competition. But the EU, egged on by the UK, has argued against any such action.

This is about many things – high quality, high skilled jobs; good apprenticeships; the future of manufacturing; whether the UK has any kind of industrial policy and what role, if any, government has beyond rhetoric and retraining. 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 >
Recommended Blogs