Tag Archives: Scotland

Independence: on being able to look outwards

Not being one to dwell for long on the negative ( you don’t change things that way, you just get cross), I wanted to fairly swiftly add to my previous post on Independence. While I’m not a Political person, I am political and I think its relevant to a blog on ‘change for the better’ to talk about this kind of issue. I also promise to return to crafty stuff just shortly!

Jennifer Wallace, head of Policy at Carnegie UK, pointed out in the same debate that I mention below that in Scotland we’re not known for being good at looking externally for examples of good practice. The question that she raised was would Independence concrete that pattern or make us more likely to look outwards?

I found this enormously helpful as it enabled me to put my heart and head together on my answer to the question we’ll face at the ballot box in September 2014.

I’m pro Independence. I’m also pro community and collaboration, sharing ideas and skills across borders (real or imagined). Why do I feel that Scotland would be good on its own? I don’t. That’s not what independence means to me.

My hope – and I much prefer to talk of hope than fear – is that Independence may enable Scotland to feel solid in its own foundations, responsible for its own destiny and finally able to talk to other States from a place of confident equality. And when are we more likely to share? When we’re afraid for what we have, or when we feel safe in our own skin?

I don’t know that I’m right – on something this big none of us can say – but I do know that I’ve thought about my vote, and that’s what democracy is for.

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Indyref: the need for compassionate debate

I was exhibiting at a Third Sector conference last week where they had a debate between Better Together and the Yes campaign on how the third sector would fare after the referendum on the independence of Scotland. Regardless of their own personal thoughts on the question, it was clear that the majority of the audience were entirely jaded with the level of the debate, which has so far been tit-for-tat and sound bites.

I have my own views on the matter too, but am very much of the opinion that someone needs to raise the exchange to a place where we hear some facts. A fact would be good.

My feeling listening to the debate was that Better Together came out on top. This wasn’t because their case for constitutional reform was stronger or more likely to convince. It was simply because that candidate spoke to the direct concerns of the audience, had had some experience working in the sector and was able to answer questions with all of this in mind. It also helped that they were a party politician and gave a few rough ideas of actual things that their party might do after indyref.

What occurred to me – and what I shamefully admit I hadn’t given much thought to previously is that Indyref is not a party political debate (although there certainly is a split down party political lines). It’s much more than that. Part of the reason that no one can put forward any solid ideas about what would happen afterwards is because no one knows. The things that we’re thinking about, monetary union, health care, taxation, membership if the EU and NATO along with a morass of other issues, may all look solid at first glance – it should be easy to say yes, no – but actually they all depend on how people react to the eventual result of the vote.

My biggest fear of a No vote is that we’ll be put very firmly back into our little box afterwards and possibly we’ll be faced with dealing with a settlement that makes sure we don’t decide to question the status quo again. The question for me is not a rational yes or no. In the face of very little intelligent debate, it’s fear vs. hope, and that’s no way to decide the future of your country.