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Posts Tagged ‘Scottish politics’

The Good Ship Britannia Sinks Below the Waves: Scotland, Brexit and the Thoughts of Tim Shipman

Gerry Hassan

Bella Caledonia, June 13th 2018

The events of the last two days have shown how the British establishment, political classes and their supporters view the UK. There is the contempt and chaos in the Brexit process; ‘Taking Back Control’ has come down to running roughshod over parliamentary processes, Henry VIII powers, with Scotland being treated with the disdain of a mere fifteen-minute non-debate on the key Brexit bill. Similarly, crocodile tears for Northern Ireland were shown to be empty – with no debate and reference in yesterday’s session of mammoth votes for concerns about the border and the so-called ‘backstop’.

The reactions of our commentariat have been just as revealing. This is Tim Shipman, Political Editor of the Sunday Times and his description of devolution:

Powers were always owned by London and devolved down. They were never, and could never be, owned by Edinburgh. They’ll be devolved down again but legally they are in London’s gift. If you have a country, that’s how it works. You may not wish to be part of UK, but win a referendum. Read the rest of this entry »

Celebration and a Politics of Collective Joy is central to making Scotland’s Future

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, June 13th 2018

The sunshine has been out a lot in Scotland recently and in more ways than just the weather. It seems us Scots are feeling happier about things and more optimistic about the future – 36% look to the future with hope, whereas 29% of us feel that Scotland’s best days are behind us. Comparative English figures show that 17% feel optimistic about the future and 49% think that England’s best days are in the past.

The above figures tell us something about the state of Scotland and the state of England, of which Brexit is only a small part. This was part of the background to Nicola Sturgeon’s keynote speech to the SNP conference at Aberdeen where she had to deal with Brexit, independence stalled, and that the Growth Commission has annoyed a large section of her own supporters. It was a decent, well written and delivered speech with some good lines and three distinct parts: the record of the Scottish Government, Brexit and independence.

On the first part, Sturgeon listed an impressive range of Scottish Government achievements and actions which went beyond the usual shopping list. Instead, she cited minimum pricing for alcohol, a National Investment Bank, a transitional fund for businesses, a new Social Security Act with no rape clause, new support for carers, and an above cost of living pay increase for NHS staff. All in a tight corner and delivered by a devolved SNP Government in its eleventh year. Read the rest of this entry »

What would Power to the People really look like? And are our politicians ready to let go?

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, June 6th 2018

The people are continually cited and invoked everywhere in democracies. Not only that but this is the age of directly asking the population via referendums – such is the disdain mainstream politicians are held in.

None of this is surprising. Politicians or most politicians talk a strange, discombobulated, evasive, managerialist language. They show in nearly everything they say and do that they are not to be trusted. Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson – he of supposed tarantula fame – cannot even answer a direct question from that pussycat of interviewers Richard Madeley on whether it was a wise choice of words to tell Russian leader Putin to ‘go away and shut up’.

Look at what happens when real life bursts into the political bubble. This is one way of seeing the phenomenon that is author and rapper Darren McGarvey on ‘BBC Question Time’ the other evening in Perth. Darren has become a rare voice who is not pigeonholed in modern day Scotland. In his book, ‘Poverty Safari’ he has written fearlessly about his own journey, weaknesses and mistakes, and importantly, learnt from them – embracing personal responsibility in a way which isn’t simply of the left or right. Read the rest of this entry »

Independence has to be about more than an indyref. It is a state of mind

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Herald, May 13th 2018

Scotland and the UK feel in hiatus and stasis – awaiting the unfurling and unraveling of Brexit.

Some people are marching. Last Saturday’s gathering was significant given the lack of SNP and Scottish Green support. It shows the energy, but also frustration and impatience, in parts of independence opinion. But it also shows the limits of such a politics. Any movement that marches under banners like ‘Tory Scum Out’, and with Tommy Sheridan on the platform, isn’t out to win floating voters.

Four years after the 2014 referendum, independence faces difficult choices and challenges, none of which are answered by a politics of simple assertion, hectoring fainthearts or dealing in abstracts. Similarly, the absence of the SNP leadership facilitating a public debate about the strategic choices of independence has produced a huge vacuum, which some people have filled with passion, while others have become slowly disillusioned.

No one quite knows what Nicola Sturgeon is up to. Is she playing a longer game of inviting the UK Government to self-implode over Brexit? Is she slowly letting the political heat out of the Scottish situation to regroup at a latter stage. Maybe she is making it up as she goes along, but the absence of candour and honest reflection means that many are left thrashing about in the dark. Read the rest of this entry »

Loss is too important to be left to the hate mongers

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, April 25th 2018

The bewildering nature of modern society – its incessant, demanding change, shifts in employment, remuneration and technologies, and a sense that big decisions are taken elsewhere – means that a feeling of loss is commonplace today in the UK and other developed societies.

Yet such is the overwhelming nature of these changes and so deep-seated are feelings of confusion and dislocation that we don’t have time or inclination to stop and pause and understand the many facets of what loss is, or its many different manifestations – not all of which are necessarily negative.

To many loss is having something taken away, feeling powerless and being in the process diminished. There is the patent Scottish feeling of loss, which through our history has transmuted into a palpable lament of loss. For some this feels likes an open, sour wound on our collective psyche. The various traumatic moments of our past underline a sense of injustice and wrong which requires public recognition and action in the present.

Recently at a Scotland’s Festival of Ideas event that I organised in Dundee – on what is missing from culture in Scotland – the writer James Robertson concluded that he saw no circumstances in which loss was positive. This would be the prevailing feeling of many of us when we first think of the subject and having something taken away which diminishes what feels a part of ourselves. It came in a response to a conversation beforehand between Kapka Kassabova, author of ‘Border: A Journey to the Edge of Europe’ and Madeline Bunting, whose most recent book, ‘Love of Country’, is explores her connections to the Hebrides. 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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