We’re kicking off our joint editorship of Bella Caledonia this week – “we” being Douglas Robertson, Professor of Sociology at Stirling University, and Pat Kane, writer and musician. Douglas sets out his end of our stall (PK’s is coming later).
DR: In looking forward, and putting our necks out in assuming an SNP victory, we feel Bella needs to be looking over the next five years and beyond to see what this new government and parliament could achieve.
In the election not much has been made of anything really, with perhaps only the SNP focus on education engaging the popular imagination and, in particular, how critical are the early years and accessing higher education. Putting all your educational policy eggs in baby boxes, and profit-eeking publically supported Universities, is perhaps not without risks.
Less has emerged about other issues that will loom large on the policy horizon. So where exactly is the environment, and not just fracking, as important as that is to both the environment and the body politic?
How will housing play out – for it surely needs to be so much more than a much reduced re-run of Macmillan’s 1950s council housing ‘numbers game’? That might have solved a quality problem – but it left a legacy that we are still not coming to terms with. Are we comfortable with private renting, and where does land reform link with bricks and mortar? Where does new technology tie into developing new democracies and accountability?
The first SNP administration set much store in the innovative and administratively challenging National Performance Framework, which endeavored co-ordinate the delivery of its policy objectives on the ground, through all those bodies that it funds. So almost a decade on, how is their belief and commitment in joined-up government playing out? Policy silos were to be a thing of the past, but still loom large to those living on the ground.
From the baby box to wooden box, enhancing Scottish lives will involve linking up and ensuring the success of so many other critical policy goals. The addition of new powers and a embryonic tax system complicates that planning and delivery further.
So how well placed is Scotland in terms of its “strategic capacity”, as Iain Docherty put it just before indyref? What is the vision for a future Scotland beyond that of a social-democratic consensus that seems politically and intellectually inept at addressing growing crippling poverty and class as well as other overt discriminations?
Our editorship this week hopefully will start up some debate and discussion on these points.