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Posts Tagged ‘Social Justice’

Let’s Talk about Tax if we don’t want to be Safety First Scotland

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, December 20th 2015

This was a significant week for the Scottish Government and Scottish politics.

John Swinney presented his first ever budget since Scotland had been given limited income tax powers which allowed variety up or down by up to 10p. That he choose not to do so is significant.

Swinney’s ninth budget came against the backdrop of a decade of real terms cuts by the Tories which we are only half way through. Against this backdrop and a Scottish election next year which the SNP look certain to win, Swinney didn’t want to do anything to frighten the Nationalists huge support.

There was as expected no change in the basic rate of income tax (now with the lovely anachronism SRIT), while there are small changes in second home taxes and business rates alongside commitments to childcare and educational attainment. Read the rest of this entry »

If Independence is a State of Mind then we have to fundamentally change

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, November 8th 2015

Years ago the dream was that the Scottish Parliament would usher in a new politics.

It was going to be different from adversarial Westminster – consensual, caring, thoughtful, leading to better debates and laws.

Much of this was wish-fulfillment. There has always been mutual scorn between Labour and SNP – aided by the fetishisation of tiny differences, given they agree on so much. But in recent years all of this seems to have got worse. And the last week in particular, was a new low.

In the previous seven days, Labour and SNP crossed swords on the replacement of the UK nuclear ‘deterrent’ Trident. Scottish Labour debated the issue at their conference for the first time since 1998 and came to the same result – opposing nuclear weapons and voting for disarmament. Read the rest of this entry »

Are we really a nation of equality and fairness?

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, May 24th 2015

Scotland is one of the hot subjects of the moment.

This is true even in places that usually ignore us – such as Westminster. One take from the centre-left Compass pressure group is that Scotland is the progressive future they would like to see across the UK. Another from disgruntled Labourites wants to get even with the SNP for taking so many parliamentary colleagues from them.

It feels good to be talked about. But actually these voices aren’t really interested in Scotland. Instead, they are talking about themselves, and their sense of bewilderment and loss, confusion over England, and anxiety about Labour and the left’s future prospects.

The British Election Survey this week highlighted data from late last year which showed that in that crucial swing group of voters, Labour to SNP, 75% believed the SNP had policies to redistribute from rich to poor, while only 48% thought the same of Labour. Read the rest of this entry »

A Great Moment for Scotland and Equality: Now Let’s Get Serious About It

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, January 4th 2015

As the clocks this week marked Hogmanay, Scotland’s first ever same sex marriage ceremonies took place.

Each of the couples had their own unique and personal histories and backstories. Many had lived through times less enlightened and more repressive where people often had to hide their love, feelings and identities from family, friends and work colleagues.

On that momentous night, at the Bell and Felix bistro in Glasgow’s Southside I had the honour of being amongst those who saw Gerrie and Susan Douglas-Scott’s public declaration of their love and commitment as they got married when the clock hit midnight.

With two other same sex couples marrying, surrounded by a small band of families and friends, witnessed by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Green Party co-convener Patrick Harvie, people were aware this was history in the making. Read the rest of this entry »

What kind of Scotland does Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP want?

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, November 12th 2014

Scotland and Scottish politics are in unchartered waters. The post-indyref has shaken and rearranged the normal reference points: SNP membership has gone through the roof, while the Labour ‘winners’ have laid claim to putting on a paltry 1,000 members.

Amid all the noise and debate, there is in the confusion, an eerie lack of substantive discussion, as people try to find their way. In the Labour Party a clutch of left-wingers believe that their core problem is the party’s embrace north of the border of ‘Blairism’; in the SNP, Jim Sillars and Gordon Wilson have been making predictable sounds calling for a more defiant, traditionalist nationalist approach, mistakeningly believing this will somehow win more widespread support than that achieved by Alex Salmond.

In both Labour and SNP contests there has been a surprising lack of debate. The Labour contest at least has another month to run, and the possibility that a choice between Jim Murphy, Neil Findlay and Sarah Boyack, will bring out some of the huge questions the party has to face if it is to turn its fortunes around. 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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