How do we talk and listen in an age of noise?Gerry HassanScottish Review, February 17th 2021 Scottish public life doesn’t need to look far for controversy and heat at the moment. There is the ongoing Nicola Sturgeon-Alex Salmond saga, the mess of the Scottish Parliament inquiry, the growing sense of drift in the SNP and the Scottish Government; combined with gathering authoritarianism and belief that it knows best. Added to this is a palpable lack of accountability and taking of responsibility of many in power. There is the Crown Office controversy involving Duff and Phelps, and only last
The Worldwide War over Truth and Free SpeechGerry HassanScottish Review, December 2nd 2020 The battle for truth is all around us. Fake news. Fake media. The argument over free speech and freedom to say what we like and think, alongside controversies over ‘cancel culture’ and ‘safe spaces’. Meanwhile an American President who has lost an election still, one month after polling day, refuses to accept the result. He has called the contest ‘rigged’ and ‘stolen’ – a denialism that 77% of Trump voters agree with according to a Monmouth University survey. This is the world all around us.
Alex Salmond, Conspiracies and 21st century disruptionsGerry HassanScottish Review, March 25th 2020 This does seem to be a moment and crisis when everything you once thought was solid has been upturned. With the Conservative Westminster Government seemingly embracing radical Corbynism – guaranteeing wages and jobs, talking of nationalising railways and more, along with massive changes to public life and behaviour – welcome to our very strange Lilliputian world. This induces in me a strange brew of different feelings. One is apprehension. Another is empathy, sympathy and solidarity with those suffering the most and for those people who have
How do we have public conversations in the age of rage?Gerry HassanScottish Review, August 15th 2018 Has the world of politics and public life ever been so messed up? And at a time of global confusion, disruption and challenge when intelligent politics is more needed than ever before. British politics in the last week has seen stormy arguments over the rights and wrongs of Tory Boris Johnson and his comments about Muslim women wearing the burka. At the same time, Labour’s discomfort and problems over anti-semitism, which I wrote about last week, refuses to go away, continuing to
A Summer of Discontent in Scotland’s Independence MovementGerry HassanSceptical Scot, August 9th 2017 It isn’t a happy time for the Scottish independence movement. To some it seems like the silly season; to others a summer of discontent. But clearly something is going on which matters for the state of Scottish politics and the cause of independence. The context is important. The SNP reverse in the 2017 election came as an unwelcome shock to many independence supporters. It has thrown many post-2014 assumptions into the air concerning the inevitability of another independence referendum, its timing and result. The differences
The High Road and the Low Road of Scottish debate and politics Gerry HassanScottish Review, August 2nd 2017 These are serious and dangerous times across the globe. There is the instability and gangland nature of the Trump administration, its ‘America First’ isolationism, disparaging of traditional allies, and open admiration for autocrats such as Putin and Erdoğan. Then there is the threat of North Korea and its kleptocratic notionally Communist regime and its nuclear and aggressive ambitions which have so far found the international community wanting. And on a less dramatic scale, but no less important for the UK
The Continuing Scottish Revolution: Time to Tell New Stories of Scotland Scottish Review, January 10th 2017Gerry Hassan It has been an unprecedented political year, and 2017 will also be full of high drama - globally, across Europe, in the UK, and nearer to home in Scotland. Politics isn’t everything. Just as important is culture - a word used and over-used, seemingly about everything and everywhere, but difficult, and sometimes impossible to pin down and define. Culture when we forensically examine it can mean so many things. It can describe individual growth and enrichment. It can be about a
Flags and Stramashs in Scotland’s Summer of IndependenceGerry HassanScottish Review, August 24th 2016 A couple of weeks ago I was involved in one of the many online conversations about politics that now characterise Scotland. Afterwards the animated chat in the pub turned to the previous day’s pro-independence march in Glasgow. Saltires had been there in plenty – and one person, perhaps more fully signed up to independence than the others, asked ‘Why is Scotland the only place in the world where people are told off for flying their flag?’ This was met by myself and others with incredulity,
Clearing the Scottish Fog of WarGerry HassanSunday Mail, June 28th 2015 This has been a momentous news week. The Greek crisis; Britain and Europe; the human desperation at Calais; and the related tragedy in the Mediterranean. While this has been going on Scotland has had its own mini-ripples which pale in comparison. There was the controversy over Royal Family funding and the Crown Estate in Scotland, and at the same time, the ongoing problem of cybernat abuse and social media misbehaviour. The Royal story saw a whole range of UK papers run front-page headlines stating ‘Scotland to cancel
The Rise of a Very Different Nation: The Emergence of ‘the Third Scotland’Gerry HassanThe 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.