Gerry Hassan, my part in his upfall


I’ve heard that Gerry Hassan, writer, researcher, thinker, might be having a wee go at me and my pals on the ‘ardent’ wing of the Yes movement – Wings, Indyref2.

Far under this heading:


He writes:


He seems to be saying two things there. First, the SNP are the party of ‘the status quo’ and second, that ‘ardent nationalists’ are inadvertently illustrating this by defending ‘every part of present-day Scotland.’

Leaving aside the difficulty of identifying the status quo in a complex modern society, isn’t the dominant version of the status quo, in essence, Unionist? I’m thinking of those interlocking elite groups, often privately educated and at the top, in the three Unionist political parties, in the civil service, in the press and in the broadcasters, on the corporate boards and executives, in arts management and in education. Though the SNP is in government (minority) it is hardly dominant in this Scotland.

As for the ‘ardent nationalists’ defending ‘every part of present-day Scotland’, are we not illustrating the same point in that we are obliged to work ceaselessly to counter the potentially overwhelming dominance of unionist perspectives and messages flowing from multiple centres of massively funded power and influence in the corporations, in the corporate and state media and in the universities?

Secondly, where is the evidence that we defend ‘every part of present-day Scotland?’ I feel driven to defend only those parts being unfairly and inaccurately attacked by the corporate and state media, in an attempt to counter a monstrous imbalance. That we do it every day is primarily testament to the scale of the problem and not to our ardency though I’m happy to be called ‘ardent’ – ‘passionate’, ‘enthusiastic’, even ‘fiery.’

Finally, an important comment on Gerry’s writing. It’s articulate, flowing and seemingly well-informed but it’s almost entirely evidence-free. He writes as if he knows it all and doesn’t need to offer any evidence. For example, when he writes:


He doesn’t offer us any evidence at all that the party as a whole, of 130 000 souls, has become ‘embroiled’ in anything. As far as I know, there is only the suggestion that one or two political aides to Salmond and Sturgeon have allegedly spoken to journalists to suggest a falling-out between the two. Even if this were to be confirmed it means nothing more than a spat between people whose task is to champion the interests of the person they are paid to assist. There is no evidence at all of a ‘civil war’ in the party. If there was, we might see the names and the numbers, but we don’t. How many SNP members have resigned saying it is because of these ‘events?’ How many councillors or MSPs have left to join the Labour Party? Sorry, I’ll need to wipe my eyes before continuing.

Gerry, along with other, unionist, commentators thinking inside the Holyrood bubble, makes the mistake of thinking that it is more than it is. Is there any evidence at all of even writing about splitting, in the MSP or MP cohorts or in the constituencies? I see none at all.

I should declare something here. I was Director of Studies for Gerry’s PhD. Yes, he is Dr Gerry Hassan, but he doesn’t use the title often. His study was of the ‘Scottish Commentariat’. It was very successful in its own terms. It passed first time with no modifications required. That’s rare. The external examiner and the University research lead loved it, but it did not involve any empirical study of large cohorts of voters, members, activists or politicians which might have led to confident claims of trends and patterns within them. Similarly, this piece, can make no claim to revealing evidence of the ‘end of an era for the SNP’ because it is mostly imaginative, based on the equally evidence-free pontifications of those journalists and politicians who make up that disconnected elite group, ‘The Commentariat.’

As I was finishing this, I thought I’d do something but when I did, it made me wonder why I’d bothered writing at all. I checked to see how much traffic Gerry’s blog gets and found this:

Estimated Monthly Traffic (unique visits) for – By Month

Not enough data to estimate the number of visits for

Unavoidably bitchy, I know, but Wings gets more than 200 000 per month. I get around 70 000. Ardency pays! 


9 thoughts on “Gerry Hassan, my part in his upfall

  1. Ludo Thierry January 17, 2019 / 5:53 pm

    As an ‘ardent’ supporter of Indy perhaps Gerry will forgive my ‘propagandising’ effort here? I managed to pull myself out of my ‘civil war’ armour for just long enough to notice a rather uplifting short piece on the site. I dodged some ‘civil war’ mortar shells for long enough to check the beeb Scotland site – Not so much as a mention on the Scottish News page, the Scottish Business page or the Edinburgh, Fife and East page. Snippet and link below – see if you reckon it might be worth at least a mention in passing?

    Package of support including a Building Scotland Fund £26.8m loan.

    More than 3,000 new homes are to be built in West Lothian – creating one of the UK’s biggest housing-linked infrastructure projects and generating up to £1 billion value to the economy over 15 to 20 years.

    The Scottish Government’s Building Scotland Fund will provide a £26.8 million loan to assist the development as part of a support package agreed under the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal.

    West Coast Capital (WCC) the private equity partnership, owners of Winchburgh Developments Limited, has agreed a joint venture with CALA Homes to take forward the development. As well as the new homes and associated infrastructure, West Lothian Council will build a number of new state-of-the-art schools.

    The total package of support from Scottish Government includes a standby facility of up to £15 million to West Lothian Council in support of its borrowing for schools as well as a £26.8 million loan to Winchburgh Development Ltd, from the Building Scotland Fund to support the delivery of housing related infrastructure.

    The Building Scotland Fund is a precursor to the Scottish National Investment Bank and will aim to make available up to £150 million by 2021 for the development of new affordable and private sector housing, the development of modern industrial and commercial property and business-led research and development.

    A package of support to unlock the Winchburgh development formed part of the Scottish Government’s commitment through the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal.

    The Scottish Government’s overall investment in the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal will contribute towards 41,000 new homes, 21,000 jobs and improve the skills of an estimated 14,700 people in the area.

    The Building Scotland Fund loan to Winchburgh is in addition to £50m already pledged as part of the City Region Deal for housing related infrastructure.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Alasdair Macdonald January 17, 2019 / 5:55 pm

    Although Mr Hassan ostensibly supports independence for Scotland when he writes about the independence ‘movement’ and the SNP in particular, he often seems to deploy the ‘perfectionist fallacy’ – unless the independence supporters answer every possible contingency, then it has failed. In the seminar room with students or as a thesis supervisor it is common and defensible to use such a technique, both to test the limits of the argument and to ‘smoke out’ weak arguments. However, especially in the social subjects, no theory or hypothesis, approaches the same objective statistical data of scientific research and, even that always admits to degrees of uncertainty.

    There are times, when eventually one has to say, ‘it’s as close as I can get it at this moment’. I am told that in Scottish Office negotiations with COSLA, officials on both sides after arguing out the issues would then propose to apply the ‘Athine formula’, which meant, ‘ach, tae hell, it’s near enough!’

    The other factor of Mr Hassan’s writing, which is often very good and well-informed, is that he never offers possible solutions to the issues he claims to have revealed. This is power without responsibility.

    Liked by 5 people

  3. scrandoonyeah January 17, 2019 / 9:11 pm

    You are indeed a ‘wee devil’ and I bet you had a wry smile on your face writing this piece.
    Gerry will love you for it no doubt but I love you more because of all the fine work you do.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Contrary January 17, 2019 / 11:42 pm

    Well, I liked the bitchy comment heh heh.

    And yes, we need to counterbalance the endless backstabbing, inaccurate, misinforming news – why is it so bad to look at the positive aspects, what is it that galls some people so much? It’s like they want everything to be grim – is it the free Kirk type attitude that we must be miserable in this life if we are to get a chance at heaven in the next? In a way, their constant doing-down of everything Scottish gives us the true opportunity to only see the positive – we can be confident that anything even a smidgen negative will be unearthed are bared to the world – we have no reason to make any effort to hold any part of the Scottish government to account – it’s done for us. I’m sure there will be plenty moaning and digging up dirt for is to do in an independent Scotland, but for now it’s not the snp or the government that’s the problem – it’s the BBC, unionist politicians (etc), MSM that need held to account.

    Has anyone else had ‘WETHERSPOONNEWS’ put through their door? The postie delivered it (along with lidl’s latest offers etc), I have never had it before, heard of it, no idea if there’s a Wetherspoons nearby etc. And it is jam. Packed. Full. Of absolute raving tosh about Brexit. Seriously full-on, ‘I can buy a local alternative to Jaegermeister so Brexit will not cause harm’. The logic here, in Tim’s opinion, is that, and I quote:

    “It seems logical that, if you can substitute an almost unique, and incredibly successful, product like Jaegermeister, you can substitute ANYTHING the UK currently buys from the continent.” (Caps are Tim’s).

    I don’t know if anyone can spot some of the flaws in this daring logic?

    The article, by Tim, starts off, “The public, MPs, businesses and the media have been the subject of a cunning plan by the elite, metropolitan voices – which lost the referendum.” He’s essentially saying that no deal is fine. And giving loads of cunning plan examples like the jaegermeister one. I’m not reading any more though, so you’ll have to get your own copy.

    I’ve just done a quick scan to see if, at any point, Tim mentions NI or hard border: I’ve found out who Tim is, it’s Tim Martin, Chairman. And no, he doesn’t mention NI as far as I can see – he does say, in one his ‘circle of deceit’, ‘fact’ no.3 – The reasoning of the anti-democrats… “… If you want a deal, you must pay £39 billion, stay in the customs union, agree to our terms over Ireland etc.” – So, I guess Tim thinks the Good Friday Agreement is just an invention of the EU so it can be a pain? Definitely avoiding the elephant,,,

    The editor has ensured a balanced view – after Tim’s extensive pieces – and put in 3 pro- and 3 anti-Brexit pieces by other publications – and has allowed Tim to comment at the top of each one.

    John, any chance you can dip into your mountainous pension pot and pay for a WordPress page upgrade? It crashes my iPad browser all the time, you’d get TONS more readers too, tons and tons and tons more, honestly.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Contrary January 18, 2019 / 7:46 am

      Dunno, WordPress advertise you can get an upgrade with no adverts or something? Right enough, my iPad mini is pretty sensitive, most newspaper sites crash every 30 seconds and I can’t read articles – most folk over on wings archive articles and they are fine – so it’ll likely just be those ever moving adverts that cause the problem – I was just frustrated that it took over an hour to post my comment. And quite often I haven’t copied a comment so give up trying to post.

      The advertising has changed since you had those glitches recently – and there seems to be a general WordPress issue, grousebeater site did the same thing, and there was a virusy pop up thing that wouldn’t go away – on my phone too – but that seems to have stopped now. Anyhow, the big computers cope okay, it is my devices rather than your site, was just frustrated, tired etc.


    • Alasdair Macdonald January 18, 2019 / 2:25 pm

      My copy of Wetherspoon News has just been delivered. The tone and content is very much the same as that set out in a speech by Boris Johnson at a JCB factory in England (the company as its HQ in the Netherlands). They are talking about the metropolitan ‘elite’ seeking to override the voice of the people. This from an old Etonian. We had a warning from old Dulwich College boy Nigel Farage that a referendum is likely ( a bit of Project Fear directed at his supporters). Clearly the wealthy clique, which includes Mr Witherspoon is using its money and connections to deliver a variation on the mendacity of their 2016 campaign.


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