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Posts Tagged ‘The Guardian’

The Possible Scotlands of the Future

Gerry Hassan

The Guardian Comment, January 13th 2012

The Scottish independence story has become one of the UK’s hottest stories, forcing Westminster and London politicians and correspondents to gen up quickly about Scotland and Scottish politics as they try to make sense of what is going on.

Scottish independence and self-government are not about an old-fashioned nationalist movement drawing from reactionary ideas, but a profoundly modern, pro-European, centre-left politics.

The debate of independence versus the union has already seen battlelines drawn, David Cameron and Alex Salmond engage in the first of what will be several duels, and the political camps and tribes anticipate the sound and fury to come.

Despite this we have to acknowledge the subtleties of the Scottish debate in an age of complexity and interdependence. There is a positive case to be made for the union. And a positive case for independence. Read the rest of this entry »

Rising Now and Being Four Nations Again!

Gerry Hassan

The Guardian Comment is Free, June 24th 2011

The Olympics are coming to London and apparently it has been decreed by the high-heiduns of the British Olympic Association (BOA) that there will be a ‘Team GB’ taking to the football field. They insist this has absolutely nothing to do with their 1.7 million unsold tickets which went on sale this morning, mostly for football, or the losses they think they can cover with ‘Team GB’ replica strips.

The Olympics aren’t really about football, so you could say does any of this really matter? Sport at the Olympics is about athletes at the peak of their talents competing against the best in the world. Except in football! I mean David Beckham, and the odd Scot and Welshman don’t really set the heather afire.

This could lead to people thinking that the ‘Team GB’ venture doesn’t matter that much one way or the other. But it does, for it is about much more than football. Read the rest of this entry »

Scotland International

Gerry Hassan

The Guardian, May 20th 2011

The Scottish vision of self-government is alive, vibrant and real.

To most Nationalists many things come to the forefront of their minds when they picture an independent Scotland. One is a proud, self-governing nation taking its own decisions. Another is an ethical nation in international affairs not engaging in ‘illegal wars’. A further strand is a society which better cares for its people, and addresses inequality and injustice in a way contemporary Scotland conspicuously fails.

Scottish independence has always been a kind of ultimate political fantasy: a blank canvas which people can project hopes onto. Many in the SNP have for long wanted to keep this prospectus suitably vague, for fear of offending any of their ‘big tent’. Yet independence has always been about this balancing act between constitutional politics, internationalism and economic and social issues. And now these issues are going to have to become more explicit.

This is a nationalist moment, a movement which has been generous, open, pluralist, modern, profoundly European and international. It might if one wants to be a little critical, have sometimes too much reflected the caution, conservatism and fear of radicalism, which pervades Scottish society. Read the rest of this entry »

Salmond’s Big Leap Forward or Not: Rethinking the Case for Independence

Gerry Hassan

The Guardian Comment, June 30th 2010

Alex Salmond has dominated the last few years of Scottish politics, and become the leading figure of the first decade of devolution.

Labour figures have come and gone, but it is Salmond who has transformed the SNP into a disciplined force, made what was called ‘the Scottish Executive’ into ‘the Scottish Government’, and the office of the First Minister into the undisputed leader of the Scottish nation.

He has fundamentally altered the character and nature of Scottish politics, yet while he has achieved all this he is further away than he ever has been from securing the historic mission of his political career and that of his party: namely Scottish independence.

In the last few days Salmond has explored setting out new ground on independence, acknowledging that post-bankers crash, the SNP case has weakened dramatically. Combining that with future spending cuts and public sector job losses isn’t really the ideal environment for making to voters the case for independence. Read the rest of this entry »

The ‘Anyone But England’ Phenomenon and the Scottish Psyche

Gerry Hassan

The Guardian Comment, June 23rd 2010

The Scotland-England relationship has been historically one of the defining features of Scottish life.

In recent years Scottish football fans have begun more and more to identify with whoever England is playing whether it be the World Cup, European Championships or a mere friendly.

All of this has now reached epic proportions. There has been the ‘Anyone But England’ (ABE) phenomenon which has spawned a website, campaign and numerous commercial ventures. Kilt makers Slanj have got into trouble for making ABE t-shirts and HMV for selling them.

STV have run a campaign inviting viewers to identify ‘Who will you support?’ in the World Cup, with TV advertising and billboards listing a range of countries from ‘Cameroon because it rhymes with Macaroon’ and ‘Holland because their strip matches my burd’s tan’. Gill Petrie, managing director of STV, dismissed the whole thing as a bit of ‘fun’ stating, ‘It doesn’t really matter how tenuous the link is between the country and the reason for choosing to support them; it’s all about getting involved in a great sporting event, and having a sense of humour about the fact our national team isn’t participating!’ 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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