Boris Johnson and the Tory attack on Devolution is about more than Johnson
Boris Johnson and the Tory attack on Devolution is about more than Johnson Gerry Hassan Sunday National, November 22nd 2020 Thirty years ago today Margaret Thatcher resigned as UK Prime Minister and yet still casts a shadow over British politics and the Tories. Fast forward to this week, with Boris Johnson revealing his true feelings about Scotland and devolution – saying that ‘devolution has been a disaster north of the border’ and that it was ‘Tony Blair’s biggest mistake’ - a bit of a tall statement given the Iraq war over which Johnson called for Blair’s impeachment. Cue lots of
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Donald Dewar and the Lost Story of Devolution
Donald Dewar and the Lost Story of Devolution Gerry Hassan Bella Caledonia, October 8th 2020 A significant and poignant moment in Scotland’s recent history comes up this weekend on Sunday, with the 20th anniversary of the tragic death of the first ever First Minister Donald Dewar at the age of 63. Donald Dewar was a profoundly decent person, imbued with an older sense of public mission and morality, who often seemed out of kilter with the times - drawing from a deep reservoir of how the middle and professional classes used to behave. His death robbed the Scottish Parliament of
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The rise and fall of civil society in Scotland
The rise and fall of civil society in Scotland Gerry Hassan Scottish Review, August 12th 2020 Last year in the US in the town of Williamstown, Massachusetts I got into a conversation with a complete stranger who followed politics avidly. I naturally asked him about the outcome of the 2020 Presidential election, to which he responded that even more important than defeating Trump was the vibrancy and health of civil society. It struck me as a perceptive remark in seeing past the debris of the Trump Presidency and looking at something deeper, more long-term and centred on the health of
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Disunited Kingdom: Will England break-up the Union?
Disunited Kingdom: Will England break-up the Union? Gerry Hassan Sunday National, May 17th 2020 This past week the UK Government finally woke up to the make-up of the United Kingdom. This has been painful for some at the centre of the UK Government - some having been in deliberate denial for years, while others on the right still want to fight what would be a futile rearguard operation to reverse devolution. This crisis has seen the continual rhetoric of a ‘four nation approach’ which was meant to signify Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland marching in lockstep with whatever the UK
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The coming of age of the Scottish Parliament … but has power shifted to the people?
The coming of age of the Scottish Parliament … but has power shifted to the people? Gerry Hassan Scottish Review, May 8th 2019 Twenty years ago last Monday Scotland went to the polls in the first democratic elections to the Scottish Parliament. This coming Sunday marks the anniversary of the first session of that Parliament which Winnie Ewing famously opened with the words: ‘The Scottish Parliament, which adjourned on March 25th 1707, is hereby reconvened.’ The new Parliament was elected with much goodwill, hope and energy, following the decisive 1997 devolution referendum. Polls showed that large majorities expected the Parliament
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Where is Radical Scotland and does it really exist?
Where is Radical Scotland and does it really exist? Gerry Hassan Scottish Review, December 12th 2018 As the United Kingdom seemingly collapses and its political class shows unprecedented incompetence, where stands Scotland? Where is that much talked about sentiment that we are radical, different, and more left-wing than the rest of the UK? For some all that matters in the above is difference and the elixir of sovereignty; ‘Take Back Control’ and don’t worry about detail and all the other stuff until we are on the other side of independence. This is rather reminiscent of the version of Brexit as
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It’s Time for Dangerous Talk: Jaytalking Scotland
It’s Time for Dangerous Talk: Jaytalking Scotland Gerry Hassan Scottish Review, September 15th 2016 These are strange times. We are told everyday in every way by numerous experts and talking heads that this is an age of unprecedented change, uncertainty and flux. That nothing can be taken for granted. Yet this is also an age of great conformity and conservatism; not only in mainstream politics but in large acres of what passes for popular culture – from music to novels, theatre, comedy, TV and visual arts. Scotland fits into this pattern rather well. It has shaken the UK to near
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Scottish Politics and the Politics of Change after Social Democracy
Scotland and the Politics of Change after Social Democracy Gerry Hassan Scottish Review, March 9th 2011 Scotland likes to see itself as a radical nation. An egalitarian country. A country of socialism and more latterly social democratic and progressive values. A nation which never voted for the Tories in large numbers in recent decades, didn’t like Mrs. Thatcher and didn’t buy into Thatcherism. A political community which has stood for timeless Scottish values of caring for the vulnerable, compassion and not buying into the certainties of the last few decades which have obsessed Westminster and Washington. It is a
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After Devolution: How Do We Change Scotland?
After Devolution: How Do We Change Scotland? Gerry Hassan The Scotsman, March 8th 2011 The last decade of Scotland has shown the limits of devolution and the power of the forces of caution and conservatism – despite our belief that we are radicals, rebels and challengers of orthodoxy. There were several accounts of devolution, but the dominant, prevailing one was not about transforming Scottish society or a supposed ‘new politics’. Instead, it was about legitimising the existing vested interests and forces of institutional Scotland. There have been many positives in the last decade: the effortless establishment of the
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