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Posts Tagged ‘Social Change’

The UK has failed but we have to address Scottish shortcomings

Gerry Hassan

Newsnet Scotland, April 26th 2014

The Scottish independence debate is about many things. It is about the state of modern Scotland and its different possible futures. But it is also about the condition of the UK, its multiple crises and how these impact north of the border.

The state of the United Kingdom is one of the main drivers of the Scottish debate. It has become an accepted fact that the UK is one of the most unequal countries in the developed world, ranked fourth in a study by Prof. Danny Dorling of Oxford University. London is, on some indicators, the most unequal city in the entire developed world.

The City of London and London as a world city ‘crowd out’ the rest of the UK: the latter accounting for 12% of UK population and 22% of GDP. The UK has become disfigured by uneven economic development on a scale unseen in the rest of Western Europe. Then there is the level of debt which the UK has counting personal, corporate and state debts which has fallen from 502% in September 2012 to 471% at the end of 2013 according to McKinsey: the second highest of any major economy apart from Japan. Government debt, the part that obsesses Cameron and Osborne, represents just over one-sixth of all UK debt. Read the rest of this entry »

The Rise of a Very Different Nation: The Emergence of ‘the Third Scotland’

Gerry Hassan

The Guardian, April 23rd 2014

The Scottish independence referendum has in the past few months become more alive and interesting. The polls have narrowed markedly and what was previously seen by many on the pro-union side as a mere formality has become a real competitive contest.

Such a swift transformation has left most of the British political classes and media struggling to catch up with events. But it has also left large parts of pro-union Scotland feeling bewildered and disorientated at the pace of change.

Scotland has slowly and unambiguously become another country. This has been a very gradual, quiet revolution, one without obvious leaders, champions or simple causes, which has happened over decades and the past century. It has been one in which the key transition points have not been simple, sudden or clear. Read the rest of this entry »

Scotland’s Historic Year and the Zeal of the Missionary Men

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, February 12th 2014

This is Scotland’s great date with destiny. The biggest moment in 300 years of history. So how are we doing versus the hype and expectation?

There is an echo chamber in large parts of public life which so far most of the Yes/No debate has amplified. There is the trench warfare of various tribal positions and the numerous one-way conversations with people talking past one another. And just as problematically, in some of the radical shades of opinion and institutional Scotland, there is a potent disconnect from the realities of everyday life, as the former invokes an ‘abstract’ vision, and the latter peddles its latest fads and buzzwords.

There is the reach of conservative Scotland which covers many opinions which would baulk at such a description. This entity can be described as the belief in the status quo of public life, our institutions, arrangements and values. It is comfortable with the current state of professional Scotland – whether it is in law, medicine and health – as well as across the public, private and voluntary sectors. It is firmly of the opinion that we have stopped the market vandals at the border (Tories, outsourcers, consultants); it doesn’t believe that such a thing as professional self-interest and producer capture exists, and has chosen to buy the self-validating stories these groups present about their version of ‘the good society’. Read the rest of this entry »

Why the Politics of Hope not Optimism are the Future

Gerry Hassan

The Scotsman, January 4th 2014

One of the great myths of modern life is the power of optimism.

Optimism, so the argument goes, can get you far. It can make you a winner, change individual life circumstances, make people rich or help them battle out of poverty.

In the world of politics and campaigning, optimism is seen by many as the key particularly in American Presidential elections – such as Ronald Reagan in 1984 (‘It’s morning again in America’), and Barack Obama in 2008 (‘Yes We Can’)  – both portrayed at the time as transformational messages (irrespective of what happened afterwards with the politics).

The SNP believe they won in 2007 and 2011 because they campaigned on a positive message and were the embodiment of optimism. They were also aided, they acknowledge, by the unremitting, unattractive nature of Labour negativity. Read the rest of this entry »

The continuing relevance of solidarity and class

Gerry Hassan

The Scotsman, November 16th 2013

Scotland has been informed by the experiences and memories of working class life and culture since the time of the industrial revolution.

A majority of Scots see themselves as working class and more people do now than over a generation ago in 1979.

In a strange turn of affairs, being working class post-crash is all the rage nowadays. It might not be the sixties when being working class was associated with the age of meritocracy and tearing down the old elites, but change is in the air.

The mantras of the long British bubble now seem from another age: the prospect of ‘a classless society’ invoked by John Major and Tony Blair’s delusion that ‘we are all middle class now’ look even more preposterous. Even Major has woken up to the new realities of class and privilege. 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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