A Rare Moment of Wisdom at the Heart of British Democracy Gerry Hassan The Scotsman, August 31st 2013 Parliamentary debates about military intervention are often rightly solemn occasions. They carry the weight of history and memories of past triumphs and disasters. The Syria debate this week had initially been downplayed by the Cameron government as it faced the realities of parliamentary arithmetic and the possibility of defeat. But this was historic, evoking past even more momentous debates, and opening a chapter in British foreign policy which could see military intervention in Syria without the UK. The entire parliamentary debate on
British social democracy is dying a slow deathGerry HassanThe Scotsman, June 8th 2013 Ed Miliband and Labour have been busy this week making policy announcements, marking out political terrain, and in the eyes of opponents, making unprincipled U-turns. Labour has announced it will not reverse the end of winter fuel payments for wealthy pensioners and child benefit for top rate taxpayers, as well as imposing an overall ‘cap’ on welfare spending for the first three years of a future Labour Government. There are short-term factors at work. Labour are increasingly keen to reposition itself and challenge the
Can Ed Miliband’s Labour Challenge the Westminster Consensus?Gerry HassanThe Scotsman, April 27th 2013 Ed Miliband does not have to seek out his troubles and much of it seems to come from his own side rather than from opponents. This week Len McCluskey, head of Unite laid into Jim Murphy and Douglas Alexander claiming that if Miliband listened to them, ‘he’ll be defeated’ and ‘cast into the dustbin of history’. Worse, George Galloway endorsed Miliband for PM, just the sort of thing to scare off marginal voters. Labour’s poll ratings are on average 9% ahead of the Tories producing
How Ed Miliband’s Labour could change the Face of British PoliticsGerry HassanThe Scotsman, September 1st 2012 The state of the Labour Party matters in British politics, with consequences for who will win the next UK election, the dynamic of Scottish politics, and the future of the UK. Ed Miliband has been leader of the Labour Party for coming up for two years next month and for many the jury is still out: ‘Red Ed’ to some, Wallace and Gromit to others. Yet Labour has recovered significantly from its 2010 election defeat when it achieved its second lowest
Debating the Future of Labour: A Conversation with Polly ToynbeeGerry HassanOpen Democracy, August 28th 2012 The Edinburgh of Scotland’s late summer is awash not just with rainstorms but a plethora of festivals and happenings: the International Festival, the Fringe, the Book Festival, Television Festival, and even a Festival of Politics in the Scottish Parliament. If all this sounds like an expression of the Scots ‘democratic intellect’ or a modern day ‘Enlightenment’ city, while conversations, deliberations and cultural happenings cover a multitude of concerns, there is usually an absence of connection to the host city and anything seriously
The Age of ResponsibilityGerry HassanThe Scotsman, August 13th 2011 As the burning embers fizzle out and the streets and cities of England return to some degree of normalcy, so the inquest begins into the causes and consequences of what we are all now calling ‘the English riots’. It is clear the losers are those who have chosen to simplify and attempt to make too obvious political capital out of the troubles: Ken Livingstone for one was disowned by many Labour colleagues for jumping on ‘the cuts were to blame’ bandwagon ahead of next year’s London Mayoral contest.
After New Labour, the Limits of the New Socialism and the Need for a Radical PoliticsGerry HassanCompass, December 20th 2010 British politics are in a strange place – one where while some of the landscape remains the same so much is different. All of the three main parties have been disorientated by the result of the election and coalition along with the scale of the crisis. One response to this from parts of the left is to retreat into the hoary old slogans of opposition and struggle, of shouting ‘Tory cuts’ without strategy or the need for rethinking.