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Posts Tagged ‘Neo-Liberalism’

The Revolution has not been televised: And why mainstream politics and media prefers not to talk about it

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, March 7th 2018

Switch on your TV news these days and you will find, when they get past the poor weather and Royal Family announcements, that the world doesn’t exactly feel a happy place. There is disorder, division and disaster seemingly everywhere, but also very little attempt to make sense of why much of this happening.

Last week the BBC news and current affairs programme ‘This Week’ hosted by Andrew Neil began with a film and discussion led by historian David Starkey. His thesis was that Britain has experienced a revolution in recent times, arguing that ‘For the last twenty years we’ve had a revolution by stealth, not in our streets, but our values’. He went on to claim that ‘a generation brought up with no rules and no religion, has lurched with quasi-religious fervor into a puritanical groupthink where debate is stifled and difference of opinion cannot be tolerated.’

Starkey stated that this was a ‘revolution’ in which ‘things had been turned upside down’, and whilst recognising it contained some good aspects (from his own experience as a gay man) he believed this was an age where politics had ‘a new pseudo religious intensity’ and a ‘puritan revolution’. In his view this contributed to ‘a complete revolution of values – between the sexes … the transgendering issue, the unmentionable has become enforceable … [and] … moral values have inverted.’ Read the rest of this entry »

The World Has Been Turned Upside Down: The End of the Era of Robber Baron Capitalism

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, January 24th 2018

The world has been turned upside down in the last few weeks. Ten years after the banking crash showed that the economic assumptions which shaped most of our lives were bogus, along has come the collapse of Carillion, the biggest outsourcing company in the UK.

The taking of the public out of public services has been a long war of attrition which has been waged by all the mainstream Westminster parties. It hasn’t improved public services or benefitted the public. Instead, the winners from it have been the companies who have won such contracts, their directors and shareholders, who have made millions of pounds from the public purse.

The Public Private Initiative (PFI) and Public-Private Partnership (PPP) was born of John Major’s government, but came of age under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown: being seen as a way to engage in significant public investment while keeping it off of the government’s books. Of the 720 PFI-PPP schemes more than 75% of them were signed off under New Labour’s period in office. They liked the supposed efficiency the private sector aided, but in reality, were driven by undertaking public spending off the balance books and the dogma of thinking ‘private good, public bad’.

Most of us know that public sector monopolies can provide poor services insensitive to the needs and interests of the public. But the tales of PFI-PPP were of a new order of providing services which weren’t about the public, but creating a guaranteed income stream and scam to the vested interests of crony capitalism. Thus, PFI-PPP schemes involved grotesque inefficiencies and inflexibilities which were paid for by the public purse. Read the rest of this entry »

What part of Britain is not for sale?

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, April 3rd 2016

This week the future of the steel industry moved centrestage, Scottish parties have finally started talking tax, and the Tories version of what they call a ‘national living wage’ came into force.

British steel used to lead the world. In 1875 it accounted for 40% of world production.  The industry employed 320,000 people in 1971, which has fallen to 24,000 now. It produced 24 million tonnes in 1967, down to 12 million tonnes today.

Tata Steel – an Indian company based in Mumbai who bought Corus in 2007, an amalgamation of British Steel and a Dutch firm – employ 15,000 of the current 24,000 jobs in the UK industry.

The world has a huge steel surplus – the product of Chinese industrialisation, low costs and state subsidies. The US Government has put up protective trade barriers to protect domestic steel from Chinese competition. But the EU, egged on by the UK, has argued against any such action.

This is about many things – high quality, high skilled jobs; good apprenticeships; the future of manufacturing; whether the UK has any kind of industrial policy and what role, if any, government has beyond rhetoric and retraining. Read the rest of this entry »

The Language and Philosophy of Our Politics is the Problem

Gerry Hassan

The Scotsman, September 8th 2012

The British party conference season just began this week with the gathering of the Greens (of England and Wales) with their new leader, Natalie Bennett.

This has become increasingly not just an age of economic crisis, but one of how politics is done and articulated across the West, from Scotland and the UK to the wider world.

People are anxious, concerned, worried about money, bills, household debts, the future of their children and grandchildren and more. They crucially in large numbers don’t see politics as offering adequate explanations.

It is even more serious than that. The language of politics increasingly throws up a set of impenetrable barriers between politicians and public. Politicians increasingly struggle to be heard or comprehended across the noise and diversions of society. Voter concerns battle to find recognition beyond the token engagement of the focus group and opinion poll. Read the rest of this entry »

The New Flat Earthers: Barbarism Begins at Home

Gerry Hassan

The Scotsman, May 26th 2012

Once upon a time the world was filled with earnest left-wing revolutionaries confident that they were the future.

They inhabited places like the Sorbonne, Berkeley and LSE campuses and thought they spoke for all humanity leading to a whole generation being caricatured as ‘Private Eye’ character ‘Dave Spart’, ‘television sit-com Citizen Smith’ and the propensity for endless ideological schisms seen in Monty Python’s ‘Life of Brian’.

All these stereotypes are now many decades old but they still carry some currency because they hit a truth; most left-wingers if they are honest will recognise their inner ‘Dave Spart’.

This is despite the fact that the left has been in retreat for the last 30 years, and that the equivalent Dave Sparts of today are the dogmatic, fanatical, humourless zealots of the free market. It is they who have tried to change human beings, behaviour and relationships to suit their simplistic theories. 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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