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Posts Tagged ‘European Union’

Confused by the European Debate? You should be!

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, June 5th 2016

The EU referendum is so far one of the worst political debates in my lifetime, with no sign of it improving. It is unlikely to descend to the gutter of Trump v. Clinton coming up shortly. But it still leaves a lot to be desired.

The academic Philip Cowley this week compared the referendum to ‘a shit game of football match, with little skill, in the pouring rain, on a Tuesday, but there still has to be a winner.’

There are good arguments for Remain and Leave. Remain can make the case for EU co-operation, the advantages of the single market, the EU’s contribution to peace, prosperity and democracy across the continent, and the importance of stability in an uncertain world.

Leave can put an equally valid case. The EU is the only continent in the world bar Antarctica not experiencing economic growth. It is a declining bloc as a share of world trade (30% in 1980, now 17%); its bureaucratic consensus decision-making make it slow, and it has been unable to deal with such recent crises as Greece and immigration. Read the rest of this entry »

Should I Stay or Should I Go? The Question of Europe, the UK and Scotland

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, April 20th 2016

I am a European. I believe in Europe as an idea. And for all of my life I have felt an affinity and connection with the notion of greater European integration.

Now I am not so sure. When I was a child my parents voted in the 1975 referendum against the then EEC. I wasn’t convinced of their argument. The BBC were showing then John Terraine’s ‘The Mighty Continent’ – a history of Europe in the 20th century – narrated by Peter Ustinov.

This hooked me. It told Britain’s island story as part of the continent: of two World Wars, the depression and post-war boom, art and literature, and introduced me to the tragedies of the Hungarian uprising and Prague spring, both of which were snuffed out by Soviet tanks.

Britain was the sick man of Europe in the sixties and seventies. The German and, even to a lesser extent, French and Italian economies were both revered and feared – with faster economic growth, greater prosperity, and better labour relations between workers and management than the UK. Read the rest of this entry »

The Europe Debate will tell us much about the state of Britain

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, January 24th 2016

2016 will be a turbulent year for Britain and the world.

One issue will dominate the UK political classes beyond economic and financial worries or anxieties about immigration and security, and that is Europe.

Europe will connect with all of the above and more. Cameron’s main impetus is to have a quick referendum, to win it and get on with the rest of his Prime Ministership. It won’t work out that way.

To have the referendum relatively soon (meaning before Scottish school holidays start) a number of pieces have to fall into place. First, Cameron has to go to his EU summit in February and win some semblance of a deal. Then he has to be able to come back and present it to the House of Commons and country as an honourable agreement – more substantive than Harold Wilson’s fig leaf in 1975. Read the rest of this entry »

The European Debate has only just begun for Scotland and the UK

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, November 15th 2015

Europe has returned to the centre of British politics. The phony war within the Tories is over as David Cameron revealed his want list from European leaders.

It wasn’t exactly long or substantial. He wants change in four areas – exempting the UK from ‘ever closer union’, boosting economic competitiveness, protection of the non-euro countries from further integration, and restrictions on EU migrants drawing UK benefits.

These requests are not far-reaching, leading Tory MP Bernard Jenkin to ask ‘is that it?’ and others dismiss them as a ‘rag bag’. Only the last negotiating point is going to cause Cameron problems. But the debate and referendum won’t be about these small details. Read the rest of this entry »

The Greek Crisis matters to Scotland, Britain and Europe – as well as Greece

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, June 21st 2015

Europe is not a happy place.

The European Union has failed to agree a common stance on the human disaster of Mediterranean immigrants, while Vladimir Putin has used military aggression to alter the boundaries of Russia and Ukraine and annex Crimea, as Europe has stood by.

Closer to home, Britain is preparing for a referendum on whether or not to continue its EU membership – the first full member state to ever do so. And then most seriously, there is the continuing Greek crisis.

The EU has been through financial crises in recent times – from Portugal and Spain to Ireland – but the Greek one is the most serious yet. Current betting odds on whether Greece will leave the euro, the ‘Grexit’, have narrowed dramatically. 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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