2007 - 2020

Future Folk (Us)

scotlands-future Today on St Andrews Day we’re inviting readers and contributors to write for us on the themes of the White Paper (available here as an eBook in all formats): Economy; Health and and Wellbeing; Education, Skills and Employment; International Relations and Defence’ Justice, Security and Home Affairs; Environment, Rural Scotland, Energy and Resources, Culture, Communications and Digital, Building a Modern Democracy.

If you’ve not written for us before you’re welcome to so submit articles and we’ve commissioned pieces on these themes, picking apart the White Paper and envisioning our own. This is a new participatory media for a new participatory democracy.

What inspired you by the White Paper? What’s missing? What do we need to create now and make happen?

It reflects what Gerry Hassan write about here – that we are making the new country now – this isn’t some far-off event:

The phrase, ‘Another Scotland is possible’ is used by some of the new forces of the left gathering around this debate. Many mainstream voices scoff and pour cynicism on the naivety and idealism of such groups ignoring the scale of change Scotland has underwent in the last thirty years.

We have not and will not reach a final destination in this debate or in our society and politics. Rather than say, ‘Another Scotland is possible’, it would be more accurate to say, ‘A different Scotland is happening’. We just do not yet fully know the shape of that Scotland, who will emerge as the winners and losers, and the scale and form of the greater self-government.

This is already happening as expectations are raised and assumptions are questioned. For example as Scott Hames writes over at Open Democracy:

The referendum ‘dividing line’ on cultural policy was established months ago in a lecture by the Scottish Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop. The White Paper version reads: ‘our approach has been, and will continue to be, distinct from that of Westminster in that we recognise the intrinsic value of culture and heritage, and do not just value them for their economic benefit’. An easy sell to cultural producers, but also a reminder to Scottish artists of their own agenda-setting power – here as rejectionists, not imagineers. Would this be Scottish Government policy, and now part of the prospectus for independence, if not for the artist-led humbling of Creative Scotland in 2012? I doubt it.

While Neal Ascherson is quite wrong to compare 1997 to 2014 – he is quite right to identify the motivating force behind Yes:

The yes camp is wider than the official yes campaign. Around Scotland in recent months, I keep meeting people who would never vote SNP or trust Salmond, but who are painfully admitting that they may have to vote yes. This is because they are appalled at the way the British state is heading, under Tory or Labour: the downward plunge into the barbarism of neoliberal politics, the contempt for public service, the almost monthly advance of privatisation. Wrestling with old loyalties, they may vote for what Ian Jack called “the lifeboat option” – an independent Scotland as the only way to escape that fate.

But if we contain our thinking to a ‘lifeboat option’ we are just proposing social policy we’re contained within an ‘anti’ frame. We need to be ‘alter’ not ‘anti’. We need to explore new ways and not always in relation to and response to England and rUK. We need inspiration from around the world and beyond the known failed models and methods. We new operating systems that are about participation and empoerment, not just at a national level but at across society. This is about innovation. We need to drive this idea forward so that Yes comes to represent new fresh thinking and an acceptance of deep rooted problems, whilst No looks more and more like a state of deep denial, a culture of clinging to the wreckage.

Over at Resilience, Juan José Ibarretxe, writes on Progress with Roots:

Despite extremely negative circumstances, the Basque People have been able to implement a significant process of positive socio-economic transformation. How was this achieved? By empowering their own self-governing institutions, developing a social economy based around cooperation and public-private partnerships, rejecting the rule of macro-economic orthodoxy, and prioritizing social innovation – all rooted in the strong and fertile soil of local culture.

The possibility of democracy unlocks a different future. As Ascherson again says, this is not just a matter for Scots:

Scotland’s departure from the union could mean all kinds of liberations and reinventions for the islanders who live under the crown. England, above all, could at last disinter its identity and the buried radicalism of its people. Stripped of the “British” comfort blanket, the archaism of England’s power structure and its monstrous north-south imbalance would become visible and intolerable. And in Scotland itself, there would be a violent climate change in politics as parties ceased to be London’s branch offices.

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  1. Abulhaq says:

    The white paper themes also included CULTURE: without care for and promotion of our unique patrimony we are just so much indeterminate globalized noise.

  2. The paper does not address the matters of religion and spirituality. As A Christian, and a Minister, just returned from 40 years of serving on 4 continents and 6 countries, to serve in the Church of Scotland, I am deeply concerned that visions for Scotland’s future include a religious and spiritual component. That religion and spirituality are not addressed is itself a religious and spiritual statement.

    It seems to me that it’s important to recognise Scotland’s Christian religious and spiritual history, with all it’s good and bad and its mixture of good and bad. Religion and spirituality in civic life cannot be avoided. As well as the Christian history, we need to take account of the plurality of religions and spiritualities that exist in modern Scotland. Christian churches now have the allegiance of a minority of the population, even though many of those who don’t “go to church” (church is not something one can go to. It’s something that one is in community with other Christians) may say that it’s the Church of Scotland that they don’t go to. Their allegiance is very weak. The gamut of religions runs from Secularism (yes it is a religion), Humanism to Hinduism, Sikhism, Islam and Wicca. I suggest that they all need to be respected and honoured in the Kingdom {I hope soon to be the Republic) of Scotland.

    The confused and conflicted American route is not a way to go. Would an Ecumenical Christian Council, and a Multi-Religion Council composed of representatives of all religions and spiritualities, from Secularists to Wiccans, with whom, constitutionally, the Government would consult on the religious and spiritual dimension of legislation and policy, be a way to go?

    1. Sorry! I should have said ” … the kingdom (I hope soon to be a republic) of the Scots.”

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