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Posts Tagged ‘Jeremy Corbyn’

The Brexit Disaster is an Existential Crisis in the ‘Idea’ of Britain

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, December 5th 2018

Last week I attended an event at Dundee University on the ideas and impact of the Scottish thinker Tom Nairn. Many of his books were discussed, including his critique of the monarchy, and the insularity of the British left, but his most important work – ‘The Break-Up of Britain’ – published 41 years ago, seems more relevant than ever as we live through Brexit.

‘The Break-Up of Britain’ explores the archaic, ossified relic that is the British state; undemocratic, anti-modern and that sees itself as ‘the mother of Parliaments’. It is also a book in which the state of England is central to this mindset – its gathering unease at events in Europe and the European project, and in which a reactionary English nationalism is emerging, initially around Enoch Powell (who was obsessed with ‘sovereignty’), but then taken up by Thatcher, and now by Brexiteers.

Brexit has caused many surprises, but it should not have come as a surprise. The UK Government has shown a scale of incompetence unprecedented in recent times. Leavers have had a cavalier disregard with coming up with a feasible plan for leaving, while the Labour Party has been too often posted missing in action without a Brexit policy worthy of the name. And to cap it all, Theresa May and her Tory Government have managed to lose three Brexit parliamentary votes in a single day – including for the first time having a UK Government held in contempt of Parliament. Read the rest of this entry »

This should be the time for Corbyn’s Labour but so far it isn’t

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, November 28th 2018

This should be the moment for Corbyn’s Labour. They face a divided, incompetent Tory Government. A party that has lost nine Cabinet ministers in the last year, which has no domestic agenda to speak of, and is not even bothering with the pretence of a Queen’s Speech.

The Government has no direction or purpose, no credo beyond continuing limpet-like in existence, clinging onto office and pursuing the project of Brexit. And yet at this moment of decision, when Labour should be harrying this government and holding them to account on Brexit and more, despite everything it is the Tories who consistently lead Labour in the opinion polls, rather than the other way round.

As profoundly, the intellectual climate has turned against mainstream Conservatism, as well as moderate social democracy, opening up the terrain for Corbyn’s Labour.

The zeitgeist of the age has finally turned against the assumptions that have dominated British politics for so long. The assertions that markets should be left unfettered, that deregulation is a good thing, that government and the state should just get out of the way of private initiative and believe in the super-rich, that making things doesn’t matter, and that ownership is ultimately just an irrelevance, have all been shown to be bogus. Read the rest of this entry »

Britain and Scotland have changed: The Tory Story of Britain is Dead

Gerry Hassan

Bella Caledonia, October 3rd 2018

The British Conservative Party is one of the most successful electoral parties in the developed capitalist world. They might not look like it at the moment but this is a force which has adapted to numerous challenges and changes: the coming of the mass franchise and rise of the working class, emergence of Labour, the post-war settlement, and demise of Empire and the UK’s diminished global standing and influence.

The Tories are the party of privilege and entitlement; of a ruling class which has presided over a version of Britain which has been historically run for the few, not the many, but which has invited the vast majority of us into their political and social construction of prosperity, affluence and social mobility.

Having said that the Tory Party has always been more than the hard-nosed, selfish, greedy capitalists of leftist legend. Indeed, it can be said that the left-wing caricature of Toryism and Tories (‘Tory scum’ etc) has not only held back a more successful left politics, but it has aided Tories who have on occasion been able to defy these stereotypes: for example, in Macmillan’s promise to build 300,000 houses a year and by Thatcher’s council house sales appealing to working class voters. Read the rest of this entry »

Could Corbyn’s Labour be the future? A work in progress, but now imaginable

Gerry Hassan

Compass, September 27th 2018

Labour conference this week is an important staging post in the new Corbyn-led, energised mass party – not just the biggest in Britain, but bigger than all the other party memberships put together.

The Jeremy Corbyn-John McDonnell leadership has been three years at the helm, and are the new establishment running and defining the party. They are now in near-total control of the party, its institutions and in tune with the expanded grass roots. This is their party now and shows no sign of changing anytime soon.

Those who are now the new outsiders are the majority of the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP): three-quarters of which tried to remove Corbyn as leader two years ago in a vote of confidence. They worry about their fate under mandatory reselection (for now postponed), long a left totem which came about in the 1980s, and saw few MPs deselected. Now many anti-Corbyn MPs worry of their future fate in a party they no longer feel comfortable in. Read the rest of this entry »

Jeremy Corbyn in Scotland: What he should say about Broken Britain

Gerry Hassan

New Statesman, August 23rd 2018

Jeremy Corbyn is in Scotland. He has problems understanding Scotland and the changing dynamics of the UK. Here is the speech he should give while here.

The backdrop to this speech is that Corbyn and his team have not been seen to understand Scotland or understand its distinct politics. The Scottish party, despite making six gains at last year’s general election (up from one seat in 2015), finished third in the polls, and no sign of recovery under Richard Leonard’s leadership looks on the cards – with the party regularly in third place in the polls behind the SNP and Tories.

Since last year’s election, the Corbyn leadership have begun to recognise that Scotland matters if they are to win a general election. Eighteen of the seats which Labour needs to win to form a majority government – and all of them need to be won from the SNP.

Scottish Labour has not gained from the Corbyn surge. It has had no major inflow of new members as in England and Wales. The people who would have joined a Corbyn led Labour in Scotland had already joined the SNP which after the indyref – expanded fivefold. Labour need to understand and reconnect with the energy and activism of left-wing independence opinion, and if it is to be listened to – develop a different politics on the constitution and future of Scotland and the UK. Read the rest of this entry »

Gerry Hassan is a writer, commentator and thinker about Scotland, the UK, politics and ideas. more >
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