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Posts Tagged ‘Sunday National’

Taking Back Control: The Rise of People Power in Scotland

Gerry Hassan

Sunday National, January 12th 2020

Rallies and marches are an intrinsic part of politics the world over.

Throughout history the politics of protesting and marching has made an impact and on occasions truly shaken power. Chartist rallies for democracy in the 19th century, Suffragette protests of the early 20th century, the civil rights marches of the 1960s of Martin Luther King and others, the anti-Vietnam war protests which spanned the globe in the late 1960s; and the anti-Communist rallies across Eastern Europe in 1989 which overthrew rotten Stalinist dictatorships. All these show the potential of people power to aid change – including regime change.

Recent Scottish and UK politics cannot match the above drama and history. But we are still living in an UK political environment affected by the deceits of the Iraq war and the anger of the anti-war protests of 2003. In Scotland the anti-poll tax demos of 1989-90 contributed to the tax being seen as illegitimate and defeated; while the Edinburgh pro-home rule gathering of December 1992 as a backdrop to the EU summit in the city highlighted and internationalised the cause of self-government to dramatic effect.

Present day Scotland now witnesses regular marches undertaken by pro-independence forces, many organised by the umbrella organisation: All Under One Banner (AUOB) – the body behind yesterday’s march in Glasgow. Read the rest of this entry »

The future of Labour matters to everyone – and to Scottish self-government

Gerry Hassan

Sunday National, January 5th 2020

Nearly a month ago Labour stumbled to one of the worst defeats in its history. Yet the weeks after the calamity of the election of a Boris Johnson government with an overall majority of eighty seats, have seen Labour no further forward in recognising the scale of its reverse or how much it needs to change.

This matters – for, despite everything, Labour still matter. They are still by far the principal opposition to the Tories at Westminster and the only feasible alternative UK government. What they say and do matters across the UK, in Scotland, and in debates on the constitution, democracy and Scottish independence.

Labour experienced a seismic electoral setback on 12 December; the extent of which was so deep and profound that many of the party’s leading lights are struggling to come to terms with its sheer scale.

2019 was Labour’s fourth election defeat in a row – something that the party, as a national force since 1918, only ever experienced once before in 1992. Then the party under Neil Kinnock thought it was about to defeat the Tories under John Major, only to be shocked at the last minute as the polls were proven wrong. Read the rest of this entry »

The Long Game of Scotland’s Independence Referendum: 2020 and Beyond

Gerry Hassan

Sunday National, December 29th 2019

Scotland is on the move. The First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has requested that the Scottish Parliament be given the legal powers from Westminster to hold a future independence referendum, and has written to Boris Johnson asking him to enter into serious negotiations.

The case for a second indyref is based on Scotland voting to remain in the UK, and being told that this was the only way for Scotland to remain in the EU. In 2016, Scotland voted 62:38 to remain in the EU, only be taken out by the UK-wide 52:48 vote without any real recognition of Scotland’s democratic wishes. Consecutive elections at Holyrood and Westminster have given the SNP and pro-independence forces parliamentary majorities culminating in the SNP triumph in the 2019 election.

The Scottish Government wants to hold an indyref before the end of 2020 and to do this by an agreed legal basis via a Section 30 order – the part of the Scotland Act 1998 which allows the Scottish Parliament to pass laws in reserved matters such as constitutional matters – and which needs Westminster’s agreement. This was the framework of the 2014 vote. Read the rest of this entry »

Cultural Highlights of the Decade

Gerry Hassan

Sunday National, December 29th 2019

MUSIC

Elza Soares, The Woman at the End of the World/A Mulher do Fim do Mundo, Mais Um Discos 2016.

Brazilian music – from bossa nova to Tropicalia and present sounds – has always been a passion of mine. Elza Soares is a Brazilian national treasure and inspiration who was born in poverty in one of Rio’s favelas. She has had huge commercial success and now in her 80s a couple of years ago decided to make a contemporary album.

This is no nostalgic act or even Rick Rubin ‘uncut’ copy. It is a fierce, unapologetic call to arms. She surveys the world and Brazil in particular and embraces resistance, defiance, solidarity and sisterhood. The title track sounds like a mix of trip hop, Brazilian influence, the Pop Group and Gang of Four with her stunning ragged voice, full of power, insight and tenderness in equal measure. In other words – completely unique.

Its themes cover poverty, class, racism, hardship, heartache, men not living up to being men, getting older and the experience and resilience that go alongside. All this is sung in Portuguese – with the album notes providing English translations of everything. In a crowded, hectic music world of streaming and homogenisation, spend a few minutes with this and let it in your heart. It will change your life. Read the rest of this entry »

Time to Decide: Scottish Labour and the Independence Question

Gerry Hassan

Sunday National, December 22nd 2019

This week reality hit the Labour Party in Scotland. In the aftermath of yet another disastrous election defeat senior figures in the party have decided to question Labour’s long held opposition to an independence referendum, believing they should champion Scotland’s right to self-determination.

Paul Sweeney, Monica Lennon and Neil Findlay as well as others have indicated that the party cannot be seen as standing for Westminster minority rule and against the democratic right of the Scottish people. There was a backlash against these pronouncements. The last representative of the once mighty Westminster Scottish Labour battalions – Ian Murray – indicated that he was ready to fight to the end stating with candour that ‘The Labour Party in 2014 destroyed itself by campaigning for Scotland to stay in the UK because it was the right thing to do and I’m sure the Scottish Labour Party would do the same again.’

Labour are not moving to consider a pro-independence position. Instead, they are debating accepting that the Scottish people have the right to decide their own future. This leaves the door open for what will become Labour’s future stance on independence and the constitutional question. There are at least five distinctive positions – all with costs. 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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