On Stone Throwers, and the Alternative

Every movement has its mix of “Stone throwers, alternative builders and institutional plodders. They hate each other and they need each other…” from Lesley Riddoch’s State of Scottish Democracy Lecture


Comments (2)

Join the Discussion

Your email address will not be published.

  1. Jennie Smith says:

    What is the structure of local democracy in the more populated areas in Norway? For example towns the size of Glasgow, Edinburgh, Inverness, Stirling, Perth etc. Eigg and Strontian both sound really positive examples but I am interested also in larger conurbations especially if they manage to make progress without opposing political groups spending much of their time undermining each other’s efforts.

  2. SleepingDog says:

    Then again, the Faroe Islanders seem keen on their whale slaughter. Local democracy in conflict with biocracy.
    There are reasons the British Empire (why not include statistics from beyond UK?) has excessive centralisation post WW2, as the Empire became nuclear armed. Large parts of Scotland were militarised, turned into sporting deserts or just controlled by the Crown, which inhibits local democracy.

    When I last studied urban politics, community organisations were recognised as nurseries of democracy, but given the kind of ‘democracy’ those alumni have helped create, I remember a recent article on how bullies seem to get ahead in British organisations. Interest aggregation works best where interests are aligned, not where issues divide communities. The skewed demographic membership (and therefore interests) of paid councillors is very likely even worse in the voluntary sector.

    Both amateurism and professionalism have their drawbacks in local government. Pluralism tends to fall to elitism in practice, and the smallest Scottish communities may be the most patriarchal and oligarchal. Parties are run as hierarchies. Often little real choice or reflection of views and no real accountability in elections, little more than beauty contests or tribal tribute. Managerialist ideology has been a plague on UK local government. Outsourcing under forced tendering often a disaster. Gerrymandering was rife under Thatcher, as was overriding local authorities during miners’ strike etc. Local government has been a battleground for Conservatives (rural base) and Labour (urban base).

    Services used to be more local, but technology has changed. Some balancing needs to be achieved between councils (big cultural/educational/administrative buildings in cities *and* good power/communication/transport connections in low-human-population-density areas).

    Neither local nor central government has produced healthy development in Europe, which is highly extractive and exploitative of foreign labour and natural resources, including oil-baron Norway.

    Yes, you can cherry-pick sustainable homes made from local wood and eco-farming rewilding schemes, but you can also point to deep and terrible scars in the industrial wastes of Scotland, its shameful nature-depletion, and the even worse states of environments beyond our shores upon which our imperial lifestyles have been built.

    These problems have long been identified, many papers of proposals written, and central/royalist/nuclear/militarist/neoliberal/imperialist/Anglican etc government is much to blame for, as Riddoch claims, ‘democracy hollowing out democracy’ — if only such representation was democracy (it really isn’t, whatever the Electoral Reform Society says).

Help keep our journalism independent

We don’t take any advertising, we don’t hide behind a pay wall and we don’t keep harassing you for crowd-funding. We’re entirely dependent on our readers to support us.

Subscribe to regular bella in your inbox

Don’t miss a single article. Enter your email address on our subscribe page by clicking the button below. It is completely free and you can easily unsubscribe at any time.