The continuing relevance of solidarity and classGerry HassanThe Scotsman, November 16th 2013 Scotland has been informed by the experiences and memories of working class life and culture since the time of the industrial revolution. A majority of Scots see themselves as working class and more people do now than over a generation ago in 1979. In a strange turn of affairs, being working class post-crash is all the rage nowadays. It might not be the sixties when being working class was associated with the age of meritocracy and tearing down the old elites, but change is in
The Missing Voices of Public Life and How We Create a Different ScotlandGerry HassanThe Scotsman, November 9th 2013 To many of the tribes and partisans who inhabit our public life, all that matters is the contest and defeating their opponents. Democracy and politics in this mindset are in fine working order, beyond the difficulty of trying to get your own way! In reality, Scottish democracy barely exists in any meaningful sense. The 1707 settlement guaranteed the autonomy of ‘the holy trinity’ of Kirk, education and law, giving prominence to these institutional identities, which came to the fore as
What is the point of Scotland’s Westminster Politicians?Gerry HassanThe Scotsman, November 2nd 2013 Once upon a time Scottish politics meant one of two things: what your local council got up too, and Scottish MPs standing on College Green talking on BBC and STV about what often seemed far-flung issues. The latter were our only articulation of national party politics. And while it now seems a long time ago it did produce a sort of effective politics and a range of ‘Big Beasts’ - from Tom Johnston and Willie Ross to George Younger, Malcolm Rifkind and Gordon Brown, to
The Unions of the United Kingdom are ChangingGerry HassanThe Scotsman, October 26th 2013 This week the British media turned its attention to the christening of the Royal Baby with the headlines ‘Gorgeous George’, continued its obsessions with who said what and apologised for what in ‘Plebgate’, and allowed for an occasional airing of the issue which rocked Scotland: the potential closure of Grangemouth petrochemical plant. Such coverage shows the growing divergence between the London media and political world and the concerns of Scotland, but a small part of the thoughtful English media turned its attention to the implications
Time to Be Bold in Making a New Scottish Democracy!Gerry HassanThe Scotsman, October 19th 2013 We hear all the time that a ‘historic decision’ awaits Scots next year but so far this has seemed like a typical Scots campaign as nervous forces of change face a techy displaced establishment and a media unsure of its role. All this in the context of traditional institutions declining, new ways of organising and social media emerging, and a country dramatically changed in the last three decades, which ‘official Scotland’ finds difficult to fully grasp. Our traditional politics struggle with this. The
The Dangers of the Right-Wing Revolutionaries in the UK and USGerry HassanThe Scotsman, October 13th 2013 The world as we know it stands on the brink of extinction. It could literally come to an end next Thursday on October 17th. This is not some Nostradamus style prediction but the stand-off between Democrats and Republicans in the US over whether to raise the debt ceiling. There have already been two weeks of the US shutdown with numerous levels of government inactive. There have been no food inspections or publically funded medical drug trials, while 800,000 government employees remain furloughed.
What did devolution ever do for Easterhouse?Gerry HassanThe Scotsman, October 5th 2013 Labour likes to think that ‘devolution’, like the NHS is its exclusive project. ‘We legislated for the Scottish Parliament’ you hear on occasion from numerous party spokespeople. This is proprietorial, but there is also a Labour story which stresses that devolution is about changing Scotland, better governance and improving lives, differentiating it from the Tories and SNP. However, Margaret Curran, Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland in the last week made remarks at Labour conference which seem to raise questions about how the party sees
The Independence Debate is not a Non-Event but Changing ScotlandGerry HassanThe Scotsman, September 28th 2013 How often have you heard it said: the independence referendum is a non-event and as boring as paint drying? This has become the uncontested view of part of mainstream Scotland and many in public life and the media. Last week ‘Newsnight Scotland’ anchor Gordon Brewer stated as fact that the whole thing was ‘dull as dishwater’, while others regularly pronounce that it is ‘turning off voters’, ‘deadening’ and ‘never-ending’. It is a cliché, caricature and articulating a world-weary, cynical, Paxmanesque attitude of condescension.
The UK is not skint – it is a playground for the rich and privilegedGerry HassanThe Scotsman, September 21st 2013 It has been Scotland’s week in the news with British and world media flocking north to cover the story of one year to the referendum. Such coverage paints a particular Scottish story by necessity and tends to leave the wider picture of what has changed and what needs to change at a British level. The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is a strange land; not technically a nation but a state. It is a unique
Fighting Poverty is about more than the Bedroom TaxGerry HassanThe Scotsman, September 14th 2013 This week’s Scottish Government Budget for 2014-15 and 2015-16 saw battlelines drawn on who and how best to mitigate the worst effects of the bedroom tax. Now in a week when the UN special rapporteur Raquel Rolnik weighed in against the measure, it has to be recognised that this is not the main challenge facing welfare in Scotland. In terms of the UK government’s recent welfare policies, the new guidelines in relation to the Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) with their harsh regime of sanctions and