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Posts Tagged ‘UK General Election 2019’

The 2019 election and the End Games of Imperial Britain

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, December 17th 2019

The 2019 UK election campaign had few memorable moments, but despite this the result will have implications for most of us for the rest of our lives.

Maybe this is what ugly history looks like. The phrase ‘British politics’ is now a misnomer. There is no real UK-wide politics, rather a distinct four nations politics, and within this all kinds of divisions and cleavages – of young and old; within the working class; in education and housing; and between and within cities, towns and rural areas.

A stark contrast is the different UK and Scottish mandates. Boris Johnson’s Tories were elected with 43.6% of the vote, 365 seats and an overall majority of 80. This is the highest Tory vote since 1979 and first overall working majority since 1987. Caveats should be made. For all the media hype of Johnson’s appeal to former Labour voters, he and his government remained throughout the campaign hugely unpopular by historic standards – with Johnson as unpopular as John Major was in the 1997 Labour landslide. Read the rest of this entry »

Scottish Labour, Self-Government and the SNP

Gerry Hassan

Compass, December 17th 2019

The 2019 UK general election confirmed the divided nature of politics, the demise of British-wide politics and the emergence of a four nation political system.

The Tories were elected on a 43.6% UK vote made up through winning England with 47.2%, finishing second in Wales with a respectable 36.1%, while achieving second place in Scotland with 25.1%, losing votes and seats.

England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland increasingly march to different political beats. This is the third election in a row in which a different party has won each of the four nations.

The SNP have been the dominant party in Scotland since 2007 and at Westminster since 2015 – having won three Scottish Parliament elections and three Westminster elections in a row. In this election, the party won 45% of the vote, its second highest vote at a Westminster contest. It won 48 seats – taking seven from the Conservatives, six from Labour – reducing it to the sole one held by Iain Murray, and one from the Lib Dems, taking the scalp of Jo Swinson, while losing Fife North East. Read the rest of this entry »

Daring to be Different: Scotland’s politics and culture of independence

Gerry Hassan

Sunday National, December 15th 2019

Scotland after the fourth Tory election victory in a row is never a happy place.

But in 1992 it felt desolate, soul-destroying and potentially hopeless with no sign of an exit route. Whereas in 2019, and for all the horrors of facing a Tory Government elected with a sizeable working majority, it does feel very different. That is because of the existence of the Scottish Parliament, the politics of its centre-left majority, and the prospect of an escape hatch via independence.

2019 seems more substantial as a Scottish result than 2015. That was a high watermark and called ‘a tsunami’ at the time. This seems much deeper, considered and sustainable – confirmation if needed that Scotland marches to a different beat.

The SNP have now won three Westminster elections in a row. The party won 45% of the vote, its second highest vote ever at a Westminster contest. It won 48 seats – taking seven from the Conservatives, six from Labour – reducing them to the sole Iain Murray, and one from the Lib Dems in taking the scalp of Jo Swinson, while losing Fife North East.

With success comes new expectations, challenges and pressures and it is clear that the SNP official line which, over the past five years post-2014 has often seemed about management, control and not quite being sure what to do with the energies and passions of independent supporters, will have to adapt to new circumstances, shaped by winning even more emphatically. Read the rest of this entry »

Isn’t it time we got serious about democracy?

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, December 12th 2019

Democracy is not in good health in the UK or across most of the developed world. The UK election has not been, putting it mildly, an edifying spectacle or healthy clash of ideas and interests. Instead, it has signalled something deeply wrong in the democratic process – something that the political classes do not seem to understand needs to fundamentally change.

This election has not felt owned by people. Rather it has felt like something done to voters by others. This malaise is evident everywhere in the ever present vox pops with one voter declaring on Monday that politics and politicians were even invading morning TV, sighing about the election: ‘we cannot escape it’.

The inference is that we are far removed from the age when people themselves created and could see themselves collectively in the democratic process. No longer do people feel this is their democracy; rather it feels like someone else’s story – an exercise in window dressing run for the benefit of the political classes.

Once upon a time election campaigns happened out there – in constituencies up and down the land – and then those events and occasions were reported in the media. Nowadays, there is little real campaigning in the traditional sense, but all sorts of stand-alone, pop up, voter contact and virtual events and happenings. Much of this, if not nearly all of this, is done to provide the media, particularly the broadcast media, with content and pictures. We have turned full circle in the campaign-media relationship, with the latter reporting activities that are not organic or grass root, but rather a replica and pretence – and voters can sense it. Read the rest of this entry »

Is Britain Broken? And what should we do in this election and beyond?

Gerry Hassan

Sunday National, December 8th 2019

The United Kingdom is not a happy place at the moment. This has been a strange, unsatisfying election campaign. People feel ignored and distrustful of politicians. But more than that, they don’t feel that they own what passes for democracy.

This has a longer tail than this election. A host of factors have contributed to the current state of Britain. There is the UK’s struggle to find a global role post-Empire. The dependency on the so called ‘special relationship’ with the US. There is the inability to embrace the European project and become a modern European state – an ambivalence which paved the way for Brexit.

There is the stark reality of life in Britain for millions of people. The UK is one of the most unequal countries in the developed world – a land of wealth and affluence with one of the meanest and least compassionate in government with a parsimonious, punitive welfare state and paltry state pensions.

There has been the decline of the old British establishment and the rise of a new establishment even more self-serving. Adding to this is the increasingly capital-centric nature of British capitalism – dominated by London and the South East – and the City of London that crowds out the real economy, jobs and investment. 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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