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Posts Tagged ‘Scottish Parliament Elections’

Scotland’s Election, the Future of the Union and Ed Miliband’s Labour

Gerry Hassan

Open Democracy, April 26th 2011

Three opinion polls in a row have now given Alex Salmond’s SNP double digit opinion poll leads (1). Bookmakers William Hill offer odds for the SNP of 2/9 on and Labour of 3/1 to be the biggest party in the Scottish Parliament after May 5th: a huge turnaround from barely a week ago (2).

It is now fashionable and commonplace to dismiss modern elections as ‘boring’ and the Scottish elections are no exception. The normally thoughtful Alf Young in ‘Scottish Review’ viewed the current contest as ‘the biggest yawn in living memory’ and ‘depressing’ (3).

The reality is more complex and interesting: these are flawed, but fascinating elections with a number of compelling themes. There is the tale of the resurgent back from written off Nationalists, the once favourites Scottish Labour fighting for their lives, the Lib Dems for the first time under scrutiny, and a Tory Party slowly beginning to emerge from Thatcher’s long shadow. That and the future of the union and the very existence of Britain itself, make these the most gripping Scottish elections since 1999.

With a week and a half to go Labour are panicking. Iain Gray, their Scottish Labour has attempted to relaunch their campaign, the party has abandoned its main election themes, and Ed Miliband and Ed Balls are heading north. Read the rest of this entry »

What comes after Unionism and Nationalism?

Gerry Hassan

The Scotsman, April 23rd 2011

The Scottish Parliament elections seem to be being determined on competence, trust and leadership. The record of the SNP administration, Alex Salmond’s leadership, and who we most trust to stand up and speak for Scotland.

Behind this there are competing visions of Scotland. There is Labour’s rather conservative vision of an ordered, deferential, respectful society which might not have much dynamism, but would prioritise law and order. Then there is the SNP prospectus of a more confident, outgoing and generous nation, defined by inclusiveness, but which does seem to lack a sense of radicalism.

We all know that whatever happens to Scotland, given our size as a small and big nation, small in population and relatively big in land mass, that we have to share power and sovereignty in the territory of the UK, Europe and globally.

The current election and its likely outcome begs the question: what comes after the idea of ‘independence’, namely, how can we go beyond the word and its meaning? And how do we find a new kind of story for Scotland, one which those technical fixes, Calman and fiscal autonomy, wont produce? Read the rest of this entry »

The Scottish Election Comes to Life

Gerry Hassan

Open Democracy, April 21st 2011

Suddenly Scotland is everywhere on the British airwaves and media. Two very different sides of the nation. Alex Salmond’s cheeky sunlit Nationalists, the scheming separatists in Labour parlance on one side, and on the other, the dark side of football, ‘the Old Firm’ and sectarianism.

To some English listeners and viewers, this fantasy/nightmare Scotland portrayed by these accounts must seem like a strange land. A place where the population lives the life of reilly on English subsidies while complaining all the time that their culture of entitlement is being threatened or isn’t generous enough. And when they are not doing that they are knocking hell out of each other or getting blind drunk at Celtic v. Rangers games.

This morning’s MORI poll for ‘The Times’ and ‘Scottish Sun’ is a sensational poll which shows the SNP bandwagon gathering pace (1). And Labour holding their vote but faltering badly in any attempt to keep up. The vote shares are: Read the rest of this entry »

What is Happening to Scottish Politics, its Future and Why It Matters?

Gerry Hassan

Open Democracy, April 19th 2011

Something interesting is happening in Scottish politics. The forthcoming elections were meant to see the return of Scottish Labour and normal service resumed. Instead, the SNP is pulling ahead, Labour is slipping back, confused and fighting an inept campaign, while in a sign of the times Murdoch’s ‘Scottish Sun’ has – unlike last time – just come out for the SNP, with a front page endorsement of Alex Salmond, ‘Play It Again, Salm’ (1).

This later story has got the Scottish political classes imagining what logic brought ‘The Sun’ to embrace the Scottish Nationalists, whether there is any kind of deal between Salmond and News International, or whether it is motivated in ‘a Tory, post-Tony Blair era’ by wanting to undermine Labour (2).

Yet, the general blether about the Scottish elections is that it is a bit dispiriting, lacking in choice, and emblematic of much that is wrong with Scotland: a kind of Thatcher meets Blair meets Matthew Taylor view of the world.

There is truth in this account, but it is also caricature and cliché, and ignores the ways in which this is a fascinating, as well as frustrating election, whose outcome matters deeply in Scotland and across the UK. Read the rest of this entry »

The New Market Man of History and the McCliche View of Scotland

Gerry Hassan

Open Democracy, April 7th 2011

The Scottish Parliament elections are if not in full swing, then reaching a certain tempo. This week has seen the launch of the Tory, Lib Dem and Labour manifestos, next week the SNP, and even the notorious Londoncentric media and political classes have twigged that there something is going in Scotland which they don’t like or understand.

Andrew Neil is a talented broadcaster and ‘The Daily Politics’ and ‘This Week’ both good TV and must watches for the Westminster classes. However, Neil comes with significant baggage, and on many occasions, his right wing, populist views of the world slip through: the state is too big, regulation too over-bearing, the public sector needs culled, and free market buccaneers like himself need liberated.

So on Sunday’s ‘The Politics Show’ it was both revealing and illuminating when Neil came north to give us his take on the Scottish elections (1). What it showed is the deep entrenchment of a kind of new establishment commonsense which extents from politicians and policy wonks to renaissance men like Neil (and Niall Ferguson, Andrew Roberts and David Starkey), who all give succour to the black and white thinking of the market order. 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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