The World Turned Upside Down: Goodbye to ThatcherismGerry HassanSunday National, March 15th 2020 The Tory budget marked a dramatic change in tone, content and politics from what we have become used to. The language of active government, investment and public spending saw UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak make commitments to an extra £30 billion in public spending. This raises questions about Boris Johnson’s government, the Tories, UK politics, and whether this change is superficial, tactical, or something more long lasting? And what, if any, are the consequences for Scotland and independence? It is now widely accepted that ten years
Fantasyland Britain and its Zombie Economics are now in the firing lineGerry HassanSunday National, March 8th 2020 Britain and the world are facing an unprecedented crisis: a worldwide epidemic with major consequences for public health, sustainability of societies and way of life. This is a defining point. It calls for government, state and public agency action – for solidarity and recognising that health and well-being are social and interconnected. As the writer Otto English wrote we have had ‘three years of ‘we don’t need experts, we survived the war, Project Fear’’ which have been shown even more to
The State of the Union: Can Unionists reinvent their argument on the UK?Gerry HassanSunday National, March 1st 2020 In recent years the case for the union has been on the defensive - nervous and unsure of its own arguments and the future. It may have won the 2014 referendum, but there has been a rising sense of foreboding in pro-union opinion that the future is being made in the here and now by independence supporters. Such sentiment was one of the reasons behind the gathering last weekend called ‘Our Past, Present and Future’ organised by These Islands, the
Trouble at the BBC: Time to Demolish, Defend or Democratise?Gerry HassanSunday National, February 23rd 2020 The BBC is in crisis. Boris Johnson’s Downing Street are floating the scrapping of the licence fee. This when the BBC need to appoint a new Director General after Tony Hall unexpectedly resigned in January against a backdrop of impending negotiations with the government over charter renewal and the funding of the corporation. On top of this BBC Scotland’s head Donalda MacKinnon has resigned after just three years in the post when the organisation faces future uncertainty, pressures and scrutiny from all sides.
A Time for Big Ideas for ScotlandGerry HassanSunday National, February 16th 2020 Big ideas are important. Boris Johnson is talking about infrastructure projects, committing to HS2 and spending £106 billion of taxpayers’ monies. He also this week announced a review into the feasibility of a 20-mile long Scotland-Northern Ireland bridge that will cost £20 billion. Irrespective of the merits of these projects, and the obvious point that the Scottish-Northern Irish bridge has next to no chance of ever being built, they mark a different kind of politics at least rhetorically from that of Boris Johnson’s immediate Tory predecessors.
What holds Scotland back? Our relationship with England and ourselvesGerry HassanSunday National, February 9th 2020 Scotland has travelled far in recent decades. The country is more autonomous, confident, self-governing and secure in having multiple identities. This is what we often tell ourselves and there is truth in it. Yet it is also true that after 20 years of the Scottish Parliament we still have many areas in which to progress, and numerous barriers that hold us back and limit the lives of too many. Much of what restricts us can be directly linked to structural issues and hard
Scotland after Brexit: What needs to happen to win independence?Gerry HassanSunday National, February 2nd 2020 Leadership isn’t easy. It can be lonely and difficult. But it is not without rewards when you get it right. Nicola Sturgeon said on Friday: ‘leadership is not about giving people easy answers … It is about being honest with people.’ In the aftermath of Sturgeon’s announcement hours before Scotland was dragged out of the EU against our democratic wishes – many felt a plethora of different emotions about Scotland’s future, independence, and the role of the Scottish Government and SNP. Some felt
Rise Now and Be a Nation Again: Can a genuine English democratic politics emerge?Gerry HassanSunday National, January 26th 2020 England has always mattered to Scotland, and indeed to Wales and Northern Ireland. It has 84% of the UK’s population and 533 of the 650 seats in the House of Commons – which means that as of now how England votes gives the rest of the UK the government England wants, irrespective of how the Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish vote. Yet of late, England as a substitute for the UK has become increasingly evident. This is not just
Why Boris Johnson cannot say no forever Gerry HassanSunday National, January 19th 2020 Thirty years ago the Proclaimers sang ‘What do you do when Democracy's all through? What do you do when minority means you?’ This was the environment in Scotland after Thatcher’s third term victory of 1987. The Proclaimers caught the denial of democracy and sense of powerlessness many felt in the face of that political juggernaut. They also gave voice to the need to name the democratic crisis of the UK as such and its impact on Scotland, while emphasising our collective refusal to acquiesce to
Taking Back Control: The Rise of People Power in Scotland Gerry HassanSunday 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