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Posts Tagged ‘Edinburgh Festival Fringe’

Edinburgh: Inspiring Capital for Whom?

Gerry Hassan

Sunday National, July 21st 2019

The world – or rather a very narrow, self-selecting part of it – is preparing to head to Edinburgh for the annual carnival of festivals and the Fringe.

These are good times for Edinburgh. It has experienced over two decades of sustained population growth – up from under 450,000 to 513,000, a rise of 14%. Unemployment is at a record low and across the city in sector after sector it feels like a boom town.

This is, in the eyes of the official version of the city, a golden era. Yet with all this good news why does it not feel like that universally? Why for many are there growing anxieties and worries, and alongside a concern that the big issues and challenges of the future are being deliberately ducked? Some even wonder where – unlike in previous eras – is the vision and a leadership for the city prepared to make difficult decisions to prepare Edinburgh for the future? Read the rest of this entry »

What comes after Creative Scotland?

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, August 1st 2018

Festival time is upon us again in Edinburgh. The yearly jamboree of the various Festivals and Fringe take over our capital city, bring a select part of the world to our shores, and give a platform which presents a vibrant, dynamic Scotland on an international stage.

At the same time all is not exactly well in the official world of culture in Scotland. Two weeks ago, the publically funded body, Creative Scotland, lost its second head, Janet Archer, in its relatively short history.

Archer resigned after a troublesome year. There was controversy in January when Creative Scotland announced its long-term funding of arts and cultural bodies, jettisoning 20 major arts companies from its regular support list, reducing it in others, and then when pressurised, engaging in a hasty U-turn reinstating funding for five bodies, and finding more monies to ease some of the losers. Read the rest of this entry »

Alex Salmond, Showbiz and whatever happened to the politics of optimism?

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, August 16th 2017

All political leaders have a certain limited shelf life. If they are very successful and lucky they win elections, hold power and make decisions, but the public eventually grow tired and wary of their constant public presence.

The twilight years and long goodbyes of the likes of Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, Ted Heath and his thirty year grudge with Thatcher, are all examples of how difficult many find the transition. Thatcher, whatever your political views of her, won three elections in a row, and after her party overthrew her, pined for the call to return. Blair, despite his millions and acclaim from various despots, yearns for domestic political influence and has, until the June election, been making plans for a new pro-EU centrist party – which might now be off or still on.

The SNP and Scottish nationalism has played a huge part in our recent history and central to this has been Alex Salmond who led the party over two periods and twenty years: 1990-2000 and 2004 and 2014.

There are numerous achievements to his leadership in changing the SNP and Scotland permanently. First, he professionalised how the SNP conducted itself and politics, bringing a discipline and self-denying ordinance. The SNP became a party which looked outward and to win – a shift from the 1980s inward obsessions (and also with Scottish Labour’s lack of extrovert interest in winning floating voters at the time). Read the rest of this entry »

From Peak Nat to Pique Nat: Is Alex Salmond becoming a problem for Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP?

Gerry Hassan

The Guardian Comment, August 15th 2017

Alex Salmond is one of the big beasts not just of Scottish, but British politics and the defining figure of modern Scottish nationalism and the SNP.

He has been leader of the SNP for a total of twenty years (1990-2000; 2004-2014), First Minister of Scotland for seven years, and in 2014 took the SNP closer than any of its opponents thought possible to the party’s ultimate goal of independence.

Yet he now finds himself bereft of a major public role, after losing the referendum and standing down as First Minister, and subsequently losing his Westminster Gordon seat to Tory Colin Clark. Read the rest of this entry »

A Tale of Two City Centres: Edinburgh and Glasgow

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, August 9th 2017

Summer, Scotland 2017. Edinburgh comes alive and Glasgow has the start of the football season to look forward too. A tale of two cities and two very different experiences.

Edinburgh Festival Time. In the immediate weeks before hundreds of thousands of self-confessed culture vultures descend on the city it was announced that security barriers would go up in the city centre around the Royal Mile.

There was little warning, debate or ensuing controversy. A declaration was made and within days the barriers – which include high security gates, metal portals and concrete blocks – were erected to prevent vehicles hitting pedestrians. They even have a fancy sounding name – the National Barrier Asset (NBA) – and are deployed on request from, and paid for by, the UK Government. There was next to no comment let alone any queries or opposition. That seems somewhat noteworthy. 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 >
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