It’s Bloody Complicated: The role and opportunities for a democratic movement in Scotland


2024 marks the 10th anniversary since the Independence referendum in Scotland.

Support for Scottish independence is still strong but the SNP are clearly in a weaker position, institutionally, reputationally, and ideologically. They have become mired in scandal, their hegemonic grip on politics north of the border looks to be loosening, and yet the constitutional questions about who governs Scotland and how remain relevant and live. Labour’s position has clearly strengthened – albeit without ever addressing key questions of democratic renewal and constitutional change.

With a UK general election less than a year away, especially while it looks like Labour could win power and form a majority, the context for the democratic left, the future of the UK and Scotland are changing – and with it how and how much the UK is bound together changes. What progressive and democratic reforms are feasible and desirable in this new context and how can the progressive democratic left work together are essential questions on either side of the independence case. To talk this through with us, Neal and Lena were joined by:

  • Gerry Hassan is the author of several books on Scottish and British politics including ‘The Strange Death of Labour Scotland’ and ‘The People’s Flag and the Union Jack: An Alternative History of Britain and the Labour Party’.
  • Esther Roberton, who was the coordinator of the Scottish Constitutional Convention in the 1990s and has spent more than three decades serving on and chairing national and regional boards across significant areas of policy including health, education and justice, as well as initiatives relating to the Scottish Parliament and as Non-Executive Director of the Scottish Government.

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