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Posts Tagged ‘Scottish Culture’

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 »

Hugh McIlvanney: A Moral Compass and the Power of Words

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, January 30th 2019

The tributes paid to Hugh McIlvanney spoke volumes for the influence of the man, his writing and for his humanity. They were laced with recollections and memorable stories of late nights, pressurised deadlines, and long conversations – often involving drink. They came from far and wide across the spectrum including Donald Trelford, former editor of ‘The Observer’; Alex Ferguson, ex-manager of Aberdeen FC and Manchester United FC; Graham Spiers of The Times; Liam McIlvanney remembering his uncle; stars such as George Foreman and Gary Lineker – and even the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

McIlvanney wrote on sport for over fifty years, starting at the Kilmarnock Standard in the 1950s, having a spell at The Scotsman before moving to The Observer in 1962 where he spent thirty one years, before moving to the Sunday Times where he remained until his retirement in 2016. In that time he covered some of the most memorable football and sporting moments from Celtic winning the European Cup to the Ali v Foreman ‘rumble in the jumble’. But he also covered more – addressing, for example, when sport and politics mixed at the Mexico Olympics in 1968 and Munich games in 1972 when in both cases disaster and death struck.

In amidst the powerful testimony of McIlvanney’s prose and his care for detail, accuracy and the semi-colon was a discernable lament for the passing of a now lost world. This centred on numerous areas: a golden age of journalism and long form essays, a time when writers could get access to some of the greats and then get unguarded copy free from the constraints of PR advisers, and an age of working class self-education and advancement without forgetting about who you were and what was important. Read the rest of this entry »

Toxic Masculinity must be defeated. Silence is not an option for any of us

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, October 10th 2018

Hate seems to be everywhere in public life. This week Scottish Justice minister Humza Yousaf floated making misogyny a specific hate crime illegal, while in the previous week, the Scottish Government launched a high profile campaign against hate crime.

Look around the world for numerous, state-sponsored examples – US President Donald Trump, the Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte with his rape comment after the killing of an Australian missionary Jacqueline Hamill that ‘the mayor should have been first’, and Brazilian Presidential frontrunner Jair Bolsonaro and his language of rape references as a political weapon.

Trump’s comments on the Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford case have taken even his debased Presidency to a new low. After initially saying after the Senate hearings that Ford was ‘a very fine woman’, not long after he went into the gutter at a rally mocking sexual abuse and gang rape – then in the last few days, dismissing the whole thing as ‘a hoax’ dreamed up by the Democrats. Read the rest of this entry »

Who is going to champion Glasgow? Life after the GSA fire and the threat to the CCA

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, September 12th 2018

Glasgow hasn’t had to look too far to seek its troubles of late. There has been the devastating Glasgow School of Art fire (the second in four years), followed by the seeming abandonment of Sauchiehall Street businesses and residents. And if that weren’t enough in the last week there have been concerns that the acclaimed arts and cultural venue, the Centre for Contemporary Arts (CCA), shut since the GSA fire, faces the prospect of closure.

The CCA has played a vital part in the cultural story of the city. It began life as the Third Eye Centre opening in 1975 where it gave a whole host of emerging and radical artists a platform, providing a hub for debate, exchange and hanging out. This morphed into the CCA in 1992 and subsequently the space was overhauled to create a stunning atrium with a café, along with a cinema space and music venue, with over a dozen businesses and enterprises renting and using space, in a rich eco-system which made it a place to go for interesting conversation, an unusual art exhibition or film, or just food and drink. Read the rest of this entry »

Culture in Scotland in the midst of storms: A Call for Dangerous Cultures

Gerry Hassan

Bella Caledonia, March 16th 2018

Culture in Scotland is in difficult times: public spending cuts, the lost decade of stagnant living standards for the vast majority of people, limits to the Scottish Government’s largesse and devolution powers, controversy over Creative Scotland’s decision making and funding priorities resulting in the debate over the future of the Scottish Youth Theatre – and much more (with some questioning the continued existence of Creative Scotland).

If you think these are dangerous waters you ain’t seen nothing yet. While some yearn for the headwinds of populism, revolt and voter dissatisfaction to blow themselves out and ‘normal’ politics to resume, others recognise that what was normal was part of the problem and one of the reasons we got into the current mess. Restoration politics and culture which is what some dream of isn’t aiming very high.

Instead, we inhabit an age of broken mainstream politics, a discredited economic model, big questions about accountability, ethics and responsibility in both public life and in what is called private life, but is increasingly a contested arena. That’s without mentioning Brexit, Trump, the ineptitudes of the Theresa May UK Government, and that nearly everywhere in the developed world those notionally in control have lost their confidence, while continuing to pretend otherwise. 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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