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Posts Tagged ‘Scottish society’

Whatever happened to the Scottish Tut?

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, January 13th 2016

Once upon a time there was a thing called the Scottish Tut.

It defined many of our exchanges, stalked our land and policed the boundaries of permissible behaviour. It gave and took away acceptance; and once it was seemingly everywhere and now seems nowhere. Whatever happened to the once powerful tut, can we live without it, and should we lament its apparent demise?

The Scottish Tut involves many different motivations, styles and gradations. It could be used to indicate someone seen as ‘getting above their station’ or pronouncing a view viewed as gauche or inappropriate. Being judged as high-faluting and having an inappropriate attitude could bring forth the tut. But so could wearing a rather loud shirt or trousers, or trying too obviously to look different or alternative.

The tut embodied a passive aggressiveness: the use of pursed lips, staring, glaring, looking shocked, silence and a whole host of body language signals. This had power in a society that had all kinds of hang-ups, no-go areas and numerous unwritten rules. People often associate this with authority and officialdom – from councillors and faceless bureaucrats to the revenge of the local minister or priest. But it had its roots in a deep well of culture, history and traditions. Read the rest of this entry »

There is a Light That Never Goes Out: Ian Bell, Willie McIlvanney and the Power of the Word

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, January 6th 2016

Scotland values words. It has always had a place in its heart for wordsmiths and for those who powerfully combine language with a sense of some higher calling – from religion, to morality, to various causes for a better world.

In the weeks running up to Christmas, within a matter of days of each other, we lost two of our most celebrated public figures who expertly used words – William McIlvanney and Ian Bell.

Sometimes, words – written or spoken – just don’t convey the full feeling of something. That’s true of so much, but with McIlvanney and Bell there is a sense in different, but complimentary ways, that they contributed significantly to how Scotland saw itself in recent decades and how it has changed, and were influencers and interpreters in the work in progress that is modern Scotland. Read the rest of this entry »

The Sounds of Silence in Scotland

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, August 23rd 2015

Scotland is a land of tolerance and friendliness.

Glasgow is the friendly city, Scottish people chat to strangers, and we are, many think, more convivial than the English. Some believe this the product of tenement living.

There are moments which jar with this. There was the Section 28/Clause 2A battle on ‘promoting’ homosexuality in schools more than a decade ago. There was the revelation of the Catholic Church’s systemic covering up of child sexual abuse in its ranks, for which it apologised this week in the McLellan Commission.

There are many other fissures in our idea of who we are. One is, that like elsewhere, racism and xenophobia exists in Scotland. Hostility to asylum seekers and immigrants is only less potent in our country because of the numbers and visibility factor. Scotland is not that different from the rest of the UK – with 68% of the population wanting much tougher controls on immigration. Read the rest of this entry »

The SNP Ascendancy is changing Scotland and the SNP

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, June 14th 2015

The Scottish sun is out, and summer is approaching. This is true not just of the weather but reflects the mood of the SNP, their popularity, and especially that of leader Nicola Sturgeon.

In the last week a TNS opinion poll for next year’s Scottish Parliament election put the SNP on 60% and Labour 19% in the constituency vote – a historic all-time high and low respectively. This would give the SNP a second overall majority and more seats than it won in its 2011 landslide.

Nicola Sturgeon is getting plaudits everywhere. She survived being billed as ‘a comedian’ in advance publicity for Jon Stewart’s ‘The Daily Show’ in the States, and was then compared to Saddam Hussein by the host on the programme – on which she performed with humour and star quality. Read the rest of this entry »

Scotland’s Peaceful Revolution and the End of the Old Britain

Gerry Hassan

The Hindu, May 16th 2015

Britain feels and looks very different now from only a week ago.

The general election threw up many surprises – the re-election of a majority Conservative Government, the scale of the Scottish National Party (SNP) landslide, and Scotland and England pointing in completely opposite political directions.

The SNP won 56 of Scotland’s 59 constituencies, reducing the dominant Labour Party north of the border from 41 seats at the previous election to a single seat. A whole host of luminaries lost their seats including Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy, Shadow Foreign Secretary Douglas Alexander and Shadow Scottish Secretary Margaret Curran. 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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