Is Boris Johnson the most incompetent UK Prime Minister in living memory?Gerry HassanScottish Review, May 13th 2020 This is a time of national and international crisis. Governments and leaders need to step up to the plate; be honest, open and adaptive, and treat their citizens as adults who know these are difficult times and that inevitably mistakes will be made. In this environment Boris Johnson and the UK Government have had numerous advantages: newly elected in a December election with a comfortable majority of 80, a Prime Minister known for his ability to communicate, and with a relative
Scotland’s Right to Decide and the Future of Anglo-American CapitalismGerry HassanSunday National, May 10th 2020 As we reach seven weeks of lockdown more and more questions are emerging about the actions and shortcomings of the UK Government’s approach, particularly as sections of the Tory Party get restless about the length and economic costs of the lockdown. At the centre of this is the issue of what is driving policy – scientific and public health evidence or political priorities - and how it is all presented and portrayed. Then there is the relationship between the UK Government and Scottish,
The Empire Strikes Back: Being Prisoners of the Past in BritainGerry HassanSunday National, May 3rd 2020 Next week sees another historical milestone with the commemoration of VE (Victory in Europe) Day on 8 May - the 75th anniversary of the defeat of fascism and Nazism in Europe. Such totemic dates seem to come around more regularly and be marked in increasingly high-profile ways. Whether the 75th anniversary of D-Day last year, marking the Battle of Britain, or numerous films about the Dunkirk debacle, the Second World War is always with us. And this without mentioning the Churchill industry
Where is the wisdom and ability to ask big questions in our present crisis?Gerry HassanScottish Review, April 29th 2020 The world is united for once in sadness, tragedy and death. Everywhere there is crisis and anxiety, and in most places a lack of political leadership and absence of candour in public debate, despite the best intentions of the scientific community. In these trying times a degree of honesty about difficult choices facing government, society, businesses, families and individuals would be a good starting point. As would be more of a sense of wisdom and insight in public debate.
What will art, culture and sport look like after the virus?Gerry HassanSunday National, April 26th 2020 The UK economy and life as we know it are undergoing the kind of fundamental shock the like of which we have never seen in living memory. The only comparisons of similar economic and human carnage in peacetime are of the depression of 1920-21 and Great Depression at the end of the 1920s. Literally we are living through what Naomi Klein called ‘the shock doctrine’ of ‘disaster capitalism’ at a vastly accelerated pace. All of this raises questions about what life will
Where is the political leadership in this time of crisis in the UK?Gerry HassanScottish Review, April 22nd 2020 The news this weekend was dominated by controversy over Boris Johnson’s absentee leadership in the midst of the early stages of the coronavirus before his recent illness. Johnson missed five Cobra meetings, had a mini-holiday and delayed for 38 crucial days the UK giving the virus the importance and priority it deserved. Exemplary investigative journalism from the ‘Sunday Times’ has revealed a government asleep at the wheel, the diversionary cost of Brexit over recent years, and the cumulative effect of
Inequality – including in Britain – kills and why we need to organise to defeat itGerry HassanSunday National, April 19th 2020 As the scale of the coronavirus challenges rises by the day, another debate is emerging – about how society copes with the scale and inequity of income, wealth and power – and the overall issue of inequality. Just over a week ago Emily Maitlis opened ‘BBC Newsnight’ with a powerful polemic: ‘You do not survive the illness through fortitude and strength of character - whatever the Prime Minister's colleagues will tell us. And the disease is not
We are not at war yet we are increasingly living in a warfare stateGerry HassanScottish Review, April 15th 2020 In the past week the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson had to be taken into hospital as a result of COVID-19, moved to intensive care with his life in the balance, and released after his condition improved on Easter Sunday. This has been a testing time for the UK government with the Prime Minister temporarily incapacitated, and for a period out of the picture, with Dominic Raab pushed into the limelight - as have been the internal workings of
The British constitution works only for the British establishmentGerry HassanSunday National, April 12th 2020 Boris Johnson has been incapacitated for most of this week which has brought up thorny questions of where political power lies in the UK, the role of the Prime Minister and the nature of the unwritten constitution. We have been repeatedly told that government is working smoothly without the Prime Minister, that cabinet government and collective ministerial responsibility are happening, and from acting-up Dominic Raab that all of this is made easier by the fact that they are all friends and allies working together.
The Beatles, the Sixties and what happens to music after the virus?Gerry HassanSunday National, April 5th 2020 Next Thursday one of the landmark anniversaries of popular music and culture occurs: the 50th anniversary of the public break-up of the Beatles when Paul McCartney broke the unexpected news. The dreams and hopes of a huge swathe of young people and generation who had grown up with the Beatles as the world around them dramatically changed would never be the same again. Leaving aside that the Beatles had to all intents already broken up before McCartney’s announcement, but not made