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Posts Tagged ‘Scottish Media’

The Birth of the New: BBC Scotland Finally Takes Off

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, 27 February 2019

BBC Scotland’s new channel launched on Sunday at 7pm. There was a small amount of expectation, a countdown, and even nervousness. Sitting, waiting for it to begin, in those last few seconds I reflected how seldom a new TV channel is born on old-fashioned telly. The last I remember being Channel 4 in the 1980s, with Five not at the outset or since really registering.

Then it came on air. The first night opened with the Chvrches and had ‘A Night at the Theatre’ with Iain Stirling and various worthies, followed by a doc on Asian weddings, ‘Still Game’, ‘Burnistoun Tunes’, and the star of the first evening: the BAFTA winning ‘Nae Pasaran’ about how a group of East Kilbride Rolls Royce workers took on and defeated the Pinochet dictatorship. The second night had the first ever ‘Scottish Nine’ news programme – which looked and felt distinctive.

First night audiences came in at 700,000, with a 13% audience share, and at points a big footprint in the 18-34 year olds, particularly during ‘Still Game’. All of which is a good start with the public. The station has got noticed. Read the rest of this entry »

How do we have public conversations in the age of rage?

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, August 15th 2018

Has the world of politics and public life ever been so messed up? And at a time of global confusion, disruption and challenge when intelligent politics is more needed than ever before.

British politics in the last week has seen stormy arguments over the rights and wrongs of Tory Boris Johnson and his comments about Muslim women wearing the burka. At the same time, Labour’s discomfort and problems over anti-semitism, which I wrote about last week, refuses to go away, continuing to plague the Corbyn leadership.

We are living in an age of bizarre cultural wars which show no sign of going away, that test the boundaries of what is and isn’t permissible comment, tolerance, and free speech. Read the rest of this entry »

The World in 2018: Trump, Brexit, Britain and the Scottish Debate

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, January 10th 2018

The New Year is always a time for reflection. I spent the Christmas and New Year break in the United States, providing an opportunity for reflection and a different take on the world.

Two and a half weeks in an American urban setting, even in one of the wealthiest and most creative clusters in the country around Boston and Cambridge, showcases what works and what doesn’t. Conspicuous wealth sits side-by-side crumbling infrastructure and poverty personified by the MBTA train system that looks like it last had serious investment in the 1950s or 1960s.

The American media have an understandable obsession with Trump – at the moment along with extreme weather. Britain is only visible through Brexit and the latest Royal wedding. One well-stocked secondhand bookshop for example had a large number of books in its British section, but on closer examination more than half were on the royals.

Brexit fascinates the Americans and gets some coverage, but isn’t really understood. Scotland is an afterthought at best, and often confused with Ireland. The only media mention of Scotland in the States during the holidays was the Cameron House Hotel fire by Loch Lomond. This shows that disasters and even mini-disasters can have global reach – as the 2014 Glasgow School of Art fire achieved, or in a different kind of implosion, that of Rangers FC. Read the rest of this entry »

Could Scotland really be reduced to the status of a region?

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, January 18th 2017

When did present day Scotland begin? Not the ‘modern’ Scotland of post-war times, or the upside and then downside of Labour Scotland. But the land that we visibly live in today – shaped by the ghosts of industries long gone and the sins and excesses of Thatcher and Blair.

The conventional answer is 1979: the ‘Year Zero’ of Scottish sensibilities when, for many, the world was turned upside down with election of the Thatcher Government and the stalled first devolution referendum.

However, that is the view in retrospect. Thatcher didn’t unambiguously represent Thatcherism in 1979. Interestingly, most of Scotland’s non-Tory politicians and mainstream media didn’t represent it then the way we do now. For example ‘The Herald’ and ‘The Scotsman’ choose to interpret Thatcher’s first UK victory not in terms of the Scottish national dimension, but in British conventional left and right terms (neither of which were then as wedded to the constitutional debate as now).

In reality present day Scotland started somewhere between 1983 and 1987 – between the second Thatcher victory, the invention of the poll tax in 1985-86, and the third Thatcher victory in 1987: ‘the Doomsday scenario’ as it was called (meaning Scotland voted more Labour, but got a Tory Government based on English votes). Read the rest of this entry »

Does Glasgow have a chip on the shoulder?

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, June 1st 2016

Glasgow is not Scotland. For most of its history it has seen itself as bigger than the nation that hosts it – looking out to Transatlantic trade and commerce routes, and linked to the world through shipbuilding and human connections.

Since the early 19th century Glasgow has seen itself as a ‘Big City’ – even though it is now half the size it was at its peak, in the mid-1950s. This bigness is about swagger, attitude (both good and bad), and having a sense of importance. It isn’t an accident that outside of London the most written about and talked about UK city is Glasgow – a veritable ‘Glasgow industry’.

‘No other city in Britain carries the same resonances, the same baggage of expectations and preconceptions’, wrote travel writer Charles Jennings about Glasgow. That has a good side in the attachment and pride people feel for the place, but also a darker one where there is a constant feeling of being slighted, of not having your due place acknowledged, or being at the end of middle class conspiracies from high heid yins in Edinburgh or perfidious Albion. 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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