All Points North
Friday last the Scottish Government released All points north: The Scottish Government’s Nordic policy statement. An it is a page turner. Fae the bonnie map oan the front, showin Scotland as pairt o a Northern Europe o similar nations, tae its cantie contents it is easily the maist inspiring document we’ve seen oot the government in a whilie (full statement here )
In essence, it is a statement on hou Scotland will breenge doon its ain gait o internationalism efter Brexit. The statement says that will big up connections wi aa the wee countries on oor ain latitude an aboon sae we can share experience an expertise oan aahin fae culture tae land management an energy policy.
The report sets oot whit we may learn fae the countries aa aboot that airt. The countries are the Baltic States o Lithuania, Latvia an Estonia as weels the Nordic countries o Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark an Iceland. Fitba heavyweights The Faroe Islands get a wee mention an aa.
Ah’d encourage ye tae hae a keek at the statement itsel. Its nae owre lang an is gey interestin.
In this airticle Ah’ll wale just twa notable achievements by oor Nordic an Baltic pals that could be usefu tae us here at hame.
It may surprise ye tae ken that Estonia is the maist technologically advanced country in the warld. Aye Estonia. The totty wee shouder o laun atween Latvia an Finland, wi a population o 1.3 million.
Ane o the mair inspirational o their digital advances is their use o Tech in government. In Estonia ye can vote, pay taxes, sort oot permits, sign documents aa online in ae single system. Imagine the increase in voter turnoot in Scotland gin aa ye hud tae dae wis click oan an app? The government could gie ye notifications “mind it’s the cooncil elections the day, here’s the candidates in yer airt, awa an wale ane the noo”. Wee clickable profiles o ilka candidate wi links tae their promo videos an manifestos. Tommy Shepherd MP is richt ahint sic an idea. No ainly wid voter turnoot ging through the roof, but aabdy wid be that bitty better informed an aa. Braw.
Estonians also hae the opportunity tae learn computer codin fae the age o seeven. Its hard tae credit hou obsolete the average Scot will be, wi oor basic Microsoft Office skills, when Estonians are bringin sic a fouth o digital skills tae the mercat.
Finland has aaready gied us the braw idea o baby boxes. These wee cardboard boxes hae received aa the press they need sae Ah wilnae rack owre the coals. (guid airticle gien mair detail here).
Anither idea Ah’d tak owre fae the freenly Finns richt noo the day wid be their approach tae Summerhooses. Accordin tae a recent European Environment Agency report, aroon eight hunner thoosan Finns hae access tae a faimly summerhoose, aroon ane in ilka seeven Finns. Spikk tae ony Finn an maist will hae happy tales o getting oot o toon an city tae bide owre the simmer in their ain faimlies wid hoose. It gies bairns a chance tae connect wi nature, an parents a chance tae disconnect wi wark an Wi-Fi.
Scotland is millions an billions o miles fae haein onyhin like this. But the journey o mony miles aye maun begin somewye, an as o July 1st 2017 thon journey could be said tae hae begun. A new type o regulation wis pit in place fir ‘huts’, wee wid bothies. These bothies are noo mair lichtly regulated than afore, an can noo spring up aa owre the laun wi bit mair ease. But it’s a sair fecht tae bring somethin intae existence if it isnae pairt o yer mental grammar. Sae the livin, breathin exaimple o a healthy hut culture owre the watter in Finland should act as a template as we ettle tae rejuvenate oor connection wi the laun that aince wis oors.
The statement is clearly just a stert. Hae a read through the document, an ye see that hail chunks o it are thinner nor the skin oan auld mulk. Whiles oor ambitions fir wark wi Norway are lang an varied, the stated pairtnership aims wi Latvia are pit in ae single bullet point, essentially tae “explore new opportunities for bilateral engagement… ”. Thon’s no exactly arguin fir the biggin o a post-Brexit information superhighway atween the twa nations.
The value o the statement isnae necessarily its contents but. Its value is that it spikks tae the value o haein a separate, independent heid oan the Scottish government. A heid that can look aboot itsel, unnerstaun wha an whaur it is in the 21st century, an ettle tae act in accordance wi that unnerstaunin. As Brexit Britain struts aboot thinkin its Airchie, a kenspeckle pooer fit tae staun alangside the EU, the US, an the emergent pooers o China an India, its makin a fool o itsel.
Scotland kennin that it has mair in common wi Estonia, Latvia an Finland is gey usefu psychologically… We hae a culture, in need o nurture, that’s equal tae ony o them. We struggle wi sma populations, the exodus o the young, an the tribulations o bein a wee voice at the noisy stramash o international affairs. We excel at opportunities fir renewables, fir academic research an institutions o learnin. We hae a radical, inclusive mindset that’s strang enough tae confront the richt-wing aggro that’s comin oot o certain Nordic states the noo. We hae a contribution tae mak, an mony lessons tae learn fae oor Northern neebors. This is the richt gait, noo we should wark tae gang doon it.
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