The World Turned Upside Down: Goodbye to ThatcherismGerry HassanSunday National, March 15th 2020 The Tory budget marked a dramatic change in tone, content and politics from what we have become used to. The language of active government, investment and public spending saw UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak make commitments to an extra £30 billion in public spending. This raises questions about Boris Johnson’s government, the Tories, UK politics, and whether this change is superficial, tactical, or something more long lasting? And what, if any, are the consequences for Scotland and independence? It is now widely accepted that ten years
The State of the Union: Can Unionists reinvent their argument on the UK?Gerry HassanSunday National, March 1st 2020 In recent years the case for the union has been on the defensive - nervous and unsure of its own arguments and the future. It may have won the 2014 referendum, but there has been a rising sense of foreboding in pro-union opinion that the future is being made in the here and now by independence supporters. Such sentiment was one of the reasons behind the gathering last weekend called ‘Our Past, Present and Future’ organised by These Islands, the
Time to consider recall for MSPs in ScotlandGerry HassanScottish Review, February 19th 2020 Scotland likes to see itself as a modern parliamentary democracy with a new Parliament elected by proportional representation, a circular chamber that reflects its intended way of working, and a committee system designed to hold power to account. This is very much the view of official Scotland and of much of our political classes. It was the view of Labour and Lib Dems when they governed Scotland and it is the view of the incumbent SNP now. But in at least one critical respect there
A Time for Big Ideas for ScotlandGerry HassanSunday National, February 16th 2020 Big ideas are important. Boris Johnson is talking about infrastructure projects, committing to HS2 and spending £106 billion of taxpayers’ monies. He also this week announced a review into the feasibility of a 20-mile long Scotland-Northern Ireland bridge that will cost £20 billion. Irrespective of the merits of these projects, and the obvious point that the Scottish-Northern Irish bridge has next to no chance of ever being built, they mark a different kind of politics at least rhetorically from that of Boris Johnson’s immediate Tory predecessors.
The End of an Era: The Imperial Era of the SNPGerry Hassan Scottish Review, February 12th 2020 The SNP were once the bright promising future of Scotland but all such periods of political promise come to an end. It isn’t possible to permanently remain the new kids of the block with the passing of time. The resignation of Derek Mackay as Finance Secretary and his subsequent suspension from the SNP came like a bolt out of the blue – shocking everyone in his party, fellow parliamentarians and political opponents, and the media. The SNP stands dominant in Scottish
An Example of the Good Public Life for All of Us: Nigel SmithGerry HassanScottish Review, January 22nd 2020 Nigel Smith who died unexpectedly at his home in Campsie Glen in East Dunbartonshire last week at the age of 78 was never a household name. Many reading this will never have heard of him, but he was an important figure in the public life of Scotland and the UK over the past 25 years. In his working life, Nigel was a businessman, running his own engineering company in Glasgow’s Springburn for just under 30 years. More than this, he
Why Boris Johnson cannot say no forever Gerry HassanSunday National, January 19th 2020 Thirty years ago the Proclaimers sang ‘What do you do when Democracy's all through? What do you do when minority means you?’ This was the environment in Scotland after Thatcher’s third term victory of 1987. The Proclaimers caught the denial of democracy and sense of powerlessness many felt in the face of that political juggernaut. They also gave voice to the need to name the democratic crisis of the UK as such and its impact on Scotland, while emphasising our collective refusal to acquiesce to
Taking Back Control: The Rise of People Power in Scotland Gerry HassanSunday National, January 12th 2020 Rallies and marches are an intrinsic part of politics the world over. Throughout history the politics of protesting and marching has made an impact and on occasions truly shaken power. Chartist rallies for democracy in the 19th century, Suffragette protests of the early 20th century, the civil rights marches of the 1960s of Martin Luther King and others, the anti-Vietnam war protests which spanned the globe in the late 1960s; and the anti-Communist rallies across Eastern Europe in 1989 which overthrew rotten
The Long Game of Scotland’s Independence Referendum: 2020 and BeyondGerry HassanSunday National, December 29th 2019 Scotland is on the move. The First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has requested that the Scottish Parliament be given the legal powers from Westminster to hold a future independence referendum, and has written to Boris Johnson asking him to enter into serious negotiations. The case for a second indyref is based on Scotland voting to remain in the UK, and being told that this was the only way for Scotland to remain in the EU. In 2016, Scotland voted 62:38 to remain in the
Time to Decide: Scottish Labour and the Independence QuestionGerry HassanSunday National, December 22nd 2019 This week reality hit the Labour Party in Scotland. In the aftermath of yet another disastrous election defeat senior figures in the party have decided to question Labour’s long held opposition to an independence referendum, believing they should champion Scotland’s right to self-determination. Paul Sweeney, Monica Lennon and Neil Findlay as well as others have indicated that the party cannot be seen as standing for Westminster minority rule and against the democratic right of the Scottish people. There was a backlash against these pronouncements.