Scotland International: A Letter from Istanbul
Scotland International: A Letter from Istanbul Gerry Hassan The Scotsman, January 25th 2014 Europe from its edges, corners and fuzzy borderlands looks and feels rather different than it does from elsewhere. Here in Istanbul, the largest city in Turkey, Scotland’s debate and the UK’s never-ending turmoil with regard to its relationship with Europe, seems far removed. Yet what is striking is that there are commonalities between these examples as I contemplate life looking at the shores of the Bosphorus – that historic meeting and clashing point of cultures, and the crossroads between Europe and Asia. Scotland’s deliberations are about
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Be Clear Who Britain is Great For
Be Clear Who Britain is Great For Gerry Hassan The Scotsman, January 18th 2014 The independence debate is about many things - politics, practicalities, personalities. More than this it is about emotions – ranging from hope and fear, to anger, indignation and even incomprehension. We have heard enough about the supposedly ‘Braveheart’ idea of Scottish independence, but what of the emotional case for Britain and the union? There is still a powerful, resonant argument for the UK in its present form which has appeal and a rationale, albeit a declining one. This week Chris Deerin in ‘The Guardian’ (in a
The Battle for Britain and Daring to Believe We Can Do Better
The Battle for Britain and Daring to Believe We Can Do Better Gerry Hassan The Scotsman, January 11th 2014 In the last couple of weeks, two visions of Britain have been articulated. Both are clear, concise, utterly sure of themselves and the justice of their case, and both are equally partial. One is Tory MEP Daniel Hannan’s notion of a free floating, buccaneering, outward looking UK, which would slip its moorings with the European Union and reposition itself in new waters – mixing the English speaking world of the Anglosphere with re-establishing old connections with the Commonwealth and new ones
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Why the Politics of Hope not Optimism are the Future
Why the Politics of Hope not Optimism are the Future Gerry Hassan The Scotsman, January 4th 2014 One of the great myths of modern life is the power of optimism. Optimism, so the argument goes, can get you far. It can make you a winner, change individual life circumstances, make people rich or help them battle out of poverty. In the world of politics and campaigning, optimism is seen by many as the key particularly in American Presidential elections – such as Ronald Reagan in 1984 (‘It’s morning again in America’), and Barack Obama in 2008 (‘Yes We Can’)
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Does Scotland Really Want to be the Land of Equality it tells itself it is?
Does Scotland Really Want to be the Land of Equality it tells itself it is? Gerry Hassan The Scotsman, December 28th 2013 There is a deeply rooted belief in Scotland that we as a society and community, prioritise and value the idea of equality. This is something found in modern politics, and also in history, tradition and myth. From Burns and ‘We’re a’ Jock Tamson’s Bairns’ to the Declaration of Arbroath as an expression of popular sovereignty, each year these are told and reaffirmed at Christmas and New Year. This is who we are - inclusive, less individualistic and more
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Where is the United Kingdom going in relation to Europe and the world?
Where is the United Kingdom going in relation to Europe and the world? Gerry Hassan The Scotsman, December 21st 2013 The United Kingdom is on the move. Firstly, in how it sees itself in relation to Europe, and secondly, in how it understands and places itself in the world. Take Europe. There is now a rising Euro-scepticism which is very different and more thoughtful, compared to ‘the swivel-eyed loons’ of Tory leadership nightmares, or the retired Colonel Blimp image of Ukip’s unqualified anti-Europeanism. This more nuanced Euro-scepticism is seen in the ‘Fresh Start’ group of Tory parliamentarians, chaired by Andrea
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Why Scotland needs to stop living in the past
Why Scotland needs to stop living in the past Gerry Hassan The Scotsman, December 14th 2013 Who do we have such a powerful propensity to live much of our life backwards? This can be seen in the power of the past – from mythical wrongs and injustices, to symbolic, psychic triumphs and disasters – the latter ranging from the Darien scheme to Ally’s Tartan Army’s ill-fated expedition to Argentina. One defining moment of recent history which operates as a lodestar and hinge year politically is ‘the Year Zero’ of 1979. There are several versions of this. The most visible
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The Problem of Patriotism and the Left
The Problem of Patriotism and the Left Gerry Hassan The Scotsman, December 7th 2013 This week Keith Vaz, chair of the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, asked the ‘Guardian’ editor Alan Rusbridger, ‘Do you love your country?’. This was in relation to the ‘Guardian’s’ publication of some of Edward Snowden’s leaked documents on the activities of the US-UK surveillance state. Rusbridger, clearly surprised by the question answered in the affirmative, ‘We are patriots. One of the things we are patriotic about is the nature of democracy and a free press’. Patriotism, for all the uses and misuses of
The British economic model is bust. Can Scotland be different?
The British economic model is bust. Can Scotland be different? Gerry Hassan The Scotsman, November 30th 2013 Just over 18 months ago the much-respected journal, ‘The Economist’, turned its attention to Scotland and the independence debate with its famous ‘Skintland’ issue. Its front cover was deemed offensive by some for the names it gave to imagined towns and areas that emphasised the world of no hope on offer from independence - ‘Grumpians’, ‘Loanlands’, ‘Glasgone’, ‘Edinborrow’ and many more. Inside the magazine’s editorial declared that Scots had to face their decision on independence ‘in the knowledge their country could end up
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The crisis of Britain’s institutions is one of the labour movement too
The crisis of Britain’s institutions is one of the labour movement too Gerry Hassan The Scotsman, November 23rd 2013 One of the defining characteristics of the Labour Party through the ages has been its moral dimension - its indignation at the inequities and injustices of a rotten, economically and socially divisive capitalist system. It has critiqued this via its early socialist, radical and religious roots – more Methodist than Marx, more the Bible and ‘The Ragged Trousered Philanthropist’ than ‘Das Capital’. As politics and society have changed - the post-war consensus, Thatcher, New Labour - these strands have weakened but
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