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Posts Tagged ‘Jeremy Corbyn’

The future of Labour matters to everyone – and to Scottish self-government

Gerry Hassan

Sunday National, January 5th 2020

Nearly a month ago Labour stumbled to one of the worst defeats in its history. Yet the weeks after the calamity of the election of a Boris Johnson government with an overall majority of eighty seats, have seen Labour no further forward in recognising the scale of its reverse or how much it needs to change.

This matters – for, despite everything, Labour still matter. They are still by far the principal opposition to the Tories at Westminster and the only feasible alternative UK government. What they say and do matters across the UK, in Scotland, and in debates on the constitution, democracy and Scottish independence.

Labour experienced a seismic electoral setback on 12 December; the extent of which was so deep and profound that many of the party’s leading lights are struggling to come to terms with its sheer scale.

2019 was Labour’s fourth election defeat in a row – something that the party, as a national force since 1918, only ever experienced once before in 1992. Then the party under Neil Kinnock thought it was about to defeat the Tories under John Major, only to be shocked at the last minute as the polls were proven wrong. Read the rest of this entry »

The 2019 election and the End Games of Imperial Britain

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, December 17th 2019

The 2019 UK election campaign had few memorable moments, but despite this the result will have implications for most of us for the rest of our lives.

Maybe this is what ugly history looks like. The phrase ‘British politics’ is now a misnomer. There is no real UK-wide politics, rather a distinct four nations politics, and within this all kinds of divisions and cleavages – of young and old; within the working class; in education and housing; and between and within cities, towns and rural areas.

A stark contrast is the different UK and Scottish mandates. Boris Johnson’s Tories were elected with 43.6% of the vote, 365 seats and an overall majority of 80. This is the highest Tory vote since 1979 and first overall working majority since 1987. Caveats should be made. For all the media hype of Johnson’s appeal to former Labour voters, he and his government remained throughout the campaign hugely unpopular by historic standards – with Johnson as unpopular as John Major was in the 1997 Labour landslide. Read the rest of this entry »

Daring to be Different: Scotland’s politics and culture of independence

Gerry Hassan

Sunday National, December 15th 2019

Scotland after the fourth Tory election victory in a row is never a happy place.

But in 1992 it felt desolate, soul-destroying and potentially hopeless with no sign of an exit route. Whereas in 2019, and for all the horrors of facing a Tory Government elected with a sizeable working majority, it does feel very different. That is because of the existence of the Scottish Parliament, the politics of its centre-left majority, and the prospect of an escape hatch via independence.

2019 seems more substantial as a Scottish result than 2015. That was a high watermark and called ‘a tsunami’ at the time. This seems much deeper, considered and sustainable – confirmation if needed that Scotland marches to a different beat.

The SNP have now won three Westminster elections in a row. The party won 45% of the vote, its second highest vote ever at a Westminster contest. It won 48 seats – taking seven from the Conservatives, six from Labour – reducing them to the sole Iain Murray, and one from the Lib Dems in taking the scalp of Jo Swinson, while losing Fife North East.

With success comes new expectations, challenges and pressures and it is clear that the SNP official line which, over the past five years post-2014 has often seemed about management, control and not quite being sure what to do with the energies and passions of independent supporters, will have to adapt to new circumstances, shaped by winning even more emphatically. Read the rest of this entry »

Is Britain Broken? And what should we do in this election and beyond?

Gerry Hassan

Sunday National, December 8th 2019

The United Kingdom is not a happy place at the moment. This has been a strange, unsatisfying election campaign. People feel ignored and distrustful of politicians. But more than that, they don’t feel that they own what passes for democracy.

This has a longer tail than this election. A host of factors have contributed to the current state of Britain. There is the UK’s struggle to find a global role post-Empire. The dependency on the so called ‘special relationship’ with the US. There is the inability to embrace the European project and become a modern European state – an ambivalence which paved the way for Brexit.

There is the stark reality of life in Britain for millions of people. The UK is one of the most unequal countries in the developed world – a land of wealth and affluence with one of the meanest and least compassionate in government with a parsimonious, punitive welfare state and paltry state pensions.

There has been the decline of the old British establishment and the rise of a new establishment even more self-serving. Adding to this is the increasingly capital-centric nature of British capitalism – dominated by London and the South East – and the City of London that crowds out the real economy, jobs and investment. Read the rest of this entry »

Jeremy Corbyn, Labour and Scottish Independence

Gerry Hassan

Sunday National, November 17th 2019

This week Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s trip to Scotland made the headlines – and not for positive reasons. Corbyn’s position in less than 24 hours changed more than once on independence.

First, he shifted from his previous position of not having an independence referendum in the ‘early years’ of a Labour Government, indicating that a vote would not take place in ‘the first term’ of an administration. Then when this was seen as the significant shift it was, he rowed back and returned to the first position, stating that a vote would not happen in the ‘early years.’ But he was not finished there and later commented that he would not allow a vote ‘in the first two years’ of Labour in office.

All of this left people confused and questioning the intentions behind the above. This on a day when Boris Johnson’s reputation sank further as he faced the fury of people affected by the Yorkshire floods, which could have led the news bulletins uncontested.

It is not as if we haven’t been here before. Corbyn and Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell have long flagged up their open-mindedness on a future indyref. McDonnell in August said that Labour would not ‘block’ another vote, while Corbyn has previously said he was ‘absolutely fine’ with a future referendum. 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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