If we agree on the destination, how can we then agree on the road to reach it?
“We must find a middle ground – otherwise we in Scotland are stuck.”
Three high profile women - Kezia Dugdale, former Scottish labour leader, now lecturer at the John Smith Trust; Lesley Riddoch, campaigner, podcaster, new book Thrive – asked what is the road, now its ONLY about the road (currency, borders etc) and not the destination or our common bonds; while Wishart provided excellent sound bites and humour on these critical issues
How do we find the middle ground and build bridges.
This talk was a lively discussion – they looked at how we’re governed, and how we must be honest about risks. Scots are risk adverse. They agree on the destination of social policies to improve lives BUT see different routes to get there. The UK is micro-managed by a right wing government, that is cruel, elitists and can’t or won’t modernise.
Kezia as former leader of the Scottish branch of the Labour party, provided the counter arguments of why left leaning voters have much in common with our counterparts in England. She agreed on the destination – on the social polices of how we might work to eradicate poverty and inequality and was an advocate for improved housing – she disagreed with Lesley on how we might reach these goals. (she is no longer a Labour party member)
Dugdale has softened her position on independence since Better Together 2014, and said shed prefer indy over an extreme right wing government Boris led UK government (but who wont concede a referendum). She felt there were big questions on social policy to resolve – not the yes/no constitutional lens. Trust is low, many see politics as corrupt. Is politics broken here in the UK?
Riddoch showed her metal and years of experience as a journalist, traveller, author, broadcaster and political commentator. She said that commentators took their eye off the ball. She spoke of Scotland’s overly large council areas, the largest in Europe – average Scotland 175K/ average Europe 10K. The 32 councils in Scotland are really large regions. In Norway there are 400 councils.
She claimed we’ve lost our self confidence in Scotland to govern and run places ourselves. Community councils only receive £400, are Development Trusts an answer? We must get power out of Edinburgh into the rest of country – to the local village. She spoke of Shetland’s large wind farms, which are of no benefit to Shetland and they rely on diesel generation. Scotland has the best wind and waves in Europe. 30 yeas ago Norway was developing renewables.
While Kezia spoke of employment legislation, immigration powers, wealth redistribution and the importance of new housing. Federalism UK - is this possible? She spoke of the benefits of the EU, but hoped Keir Starmer wins the next election. Dugdale said she was proud of the Scottish government. On the question of Yes/ No, she said she would decide at the time!
Riddoch said Feudalism in Scotland was only abolished by the Scottish Parliament in 1998! That we Scots are wacked back of the head, by large landowners. The country has never been ours and is treated as a playground for the rich. After Brexit, half of the highlands are shut. The Indy vote 2014 in Scotland inclusive of all who’ve lived here for 3 months. Wheras the Brexit vote was exclusive, had to be British.
Scotland does not compare well to other small nations. She spoke of Denmark, as the highest taxed but happiest country – with best kindergarten, security system and OPEC wind turbines of 50 years! Sweden, best elderly care and highest trust. Most sustainable country in the world. Estonia (1991) moved away from Russia and invested in education (as did Ireland)
Federalism was discussed and Wishart asked, could such an Asymmetrical federalism work? And where does it work? In Wales Labour are more outspoken on small nationalism, Welsh language and culture. Proper devolution for England, where the large cities (London etc.) don’t vote Tory. Devolution for all parts of England.
Riddoch was hopeful that things can change and progress here in Scotland. If the SNP can be bold enough. England needs to face its own problems. Do we have capacity – with the risk adverse Scots? Perhaps Scots simply want our lands and voice back. The questions remain – how do we come unstuck from Westminster – they claim Scotland is a negative to Britain’s economy yet want to hold on to Scotland. This all doesn’t add up.
Social democracy is the settled will in Scotland. Wishart asked – what is the settled will in England? The UK is the single unitary state in Europe of 65 million, and where London runs everything. Its those in the middle who really hold the power. Vote for confidence OR a straitjacket. We need levers and capacity.
Major issues -
Electoral Reform – the ERG group
FPTP voting system
Unelected House of Lords, second chamber
Well being economy