What Can Be Done?

v0_masterBy Robin McAlpine

You may have seen gossip about internal politics around the Reid Foundation in the media. I never conduct private business in public and in time the truth about what has been happening will become known. In the meantime, I can only make clear that the allegation that ‘we’ are planning to set up a political party is not true and seems to have been put around by those who oppose the Common Weal project with the apparent aim of creating division. Neither I nor anyone associated with either the Foundation or Common Weal has ever suggested that we become or start a political party.

But Scotland is alive with conversation and discussion about what has been created in this independence campaign, what it becomes afterwards and what it means for how Scotland has changed as a political entity. I am adamant that this is the most hopeful moment in Scotland’s history in my lifetime and that the independence campaign has become the most exciting and important movement in Scotland for a long, long time. I believe we must use the unprecedented levels of participation, excitement, ability (all those new skills) and passion to change Scotland in ways that go beyond just ‘Yes’.

So what does that mean? The vast majority of the people I am campaigning beside and talking to are saying the same thing – that they want a fundamentally different Scotland that is bold in trying to create a more equal society which creates a better physical and social environment for everyone. Great. But how might we make that happen?

The following are just my thoughts. One of the great things about this movement is that no-one owns it or controls it and everyone gets to have thoughts and ideas which they can discuss and debate. I don’t believe there is one organisation or group that can do it on its own; I think it can only come from all of us working together I many different ways. I hope that possibly ‘Common Weal’ becomes a loose banner under which this work can be done – but it could be something else.

To really make the movement work there are a number of things I think we need to do. First, we need a decent media – not just a sympathetic media, a decent one. Most newspapers report the entire work of the Scottish Government and Scottish Parliament with only one or perhaps two correspondents. And there is hardly a newspaper left in Scotland that dedicates any real resource to investigation. As a result there is simply insufficient scrutiny of Scottish public life and that is a major problem. So I do think that between us we should seek to fundraise to set up a high-quality online news service employing professional journalists to cover properly politics and current affairs in Scotland.

It is important to set agendas and to shape opinion. We have seen just how ruthlessly the media has sought to control the debate in the independence campaign. That stranglehold has to be broken and a wider news agenda set. If we can set this up right I’d like to see us exploring producing a morning radio show (a half-hour audio podcast that Common Weal types can wake up to) and an evening TV show (a teatime podcast that Common Weal types can come home to). I’d also like to explore a powerful news digest of what is happening across the UK and the world. This could create a ‘wrap-around’ news service which could give people really solid political coverage Monday to Friday but in a way which actually matches their personal opinions and views. It also drags the rest of the media towards it if it can break stories that set agendas.

We also need to find every means possible to bring new ideas to people. One of the most important ways that people now get access to new ideas is through film – anything from the minute-long viral video to the feature-length documentary and everything in between. I think we should try and set up a campaigning documentary unit to produce this material. I think it needs to sit beside a creative and arts-minded social media unit which translates policy into ideas people can be excited about. Handing out leaflets at demos may have worked in the 1970s but if we want people to absorb our ideas today, we need to communicate them in the ways people consume them today.

I think Common Weal needs a proper political research and lobbying function, an effective media relations function, a development capacity to help it build up its work with many other organisations and of course an effective policy development function. I believe we have the support to fundraise to make all of that a reality. I want us to reach people by being something they want in their lives. I want to produce a high-quality monthly print magazine which brings together the art, politics, policy and movement of Common Weal together in a lively, exciting way.

I would love to create an open and inclusive network of people across the country who want a Common Weal Scotland. It is not meant to be an ‘organisation’ to which people have to sign up and obey the rules, but a network much like the grassroots independence movement which is free to self-organise and try different things in different places to encourage more and more support for Common Weal.

And I’d love for all of this to have a home. One of the lessons of this campaign (though it is a well-known lesson of many social movements) is that a ‘sustained community’ really makes a big difference. It is the chance of having regular and accidental interactions with the many people who feel the same way as you do that really turns an idea into a movement. The best ideas very often come from ‘bumping into’ someone. But that needs a place to happen. I’d like to see a large cafe-bar or similar opened in each of our cities. They could offer a home to all the possibilities discussed above (a news service, think tank, campaigning body, documentary unit, micro-sized broadcast studio). I imagine them perhaps becoming a home to others like National Collective or a successor to Generation Yes which is focussed on targeting and engaging young voters or some small independent companies like our friends at Lateral North. And downstairs in the cafe bar (perhaps there is also a small auditorium, a small bookshop), every night will be a programme of talks and performance. It will be normal in the future for people to pop out to ‘The Common’ and expect there to be a lively night of chat and conversation ahead.

This idea of ‘hub’ has been widely recognised as a crucial model for development. And it is unlimited in potential. Wherever there is a sufficiently big community of people who care enough, they could set up a ‘Common’ too. It might only be a small cafe in a large village. But we could network it to the bigger venues and they could get streaming video of the talks and performances every night. Perhaps they might organise a discussion group after a talk, or perhaps they will just get out their guitars and finish the night singing. (They could of course just have a coffee and read a magazine instead.) Imagine if all across Scotland in towns and cities big and tiny there were a network of places where people met to discuss a better future, to immerse themselves in stimulating ideas, to be touched by cutting edge arts and culture, to talk to each other, to meet strangers, to organise, to eat good food and drink good drink, to plan and plot and scheme – and above all to enjoy it. Because it’s the joy of the movement that has been such an important part in keeping it together. We can keep it going.

I can go on like this for hours with hope-filled schemes and ambitious ideas. I know some of these are going to happen; I know some may not. I know others will have ideas better than some of these, people will have ideas different than some of these. I know there are loads of people who want to get involved and they will have their own take.

But please let us all start talking and not be afraid to think about the future. The very last thing in the world I want is to be divisive or to give the impression that me or anyone else is after control. On the contrary, I want people to join the conversation as equals.

Which brings me back to political parties. I shall say now the same thing I have said from the beginning; our aim (those of us who believe in it) should be to try and get a Common Weal government, one which will be bold and ambitious in transforming Scotland in a creative, egalitarian way. Not a ‘New Common Weal’ government that uses some of the nice words but pursues the same-old banker agenda. Not a token half-dozen seats in a Parliament that is doing something else. To make the government radical.

I have been absolutely consistent – at this point people will have different thoughts and ideas. Some think the SNP can become that party. Some think that after independence the Labour Party could be reinvented. Some believe the Greens can be built up into a much larger electoral force, some that the SSP can start to make serious in-roads again. Others think it might work best if we were to try and build up some kind of support for candidates on a cross-party basis. Some think we might go for a parliament of independents. And some think we need another political party.

Many people have talked to me about the vague idea of setting up a new political party. I always give the same response – you’d have to do it from scratch in about 18 months. It would take a lot of work and it would be difficult and you’d be doing it at the same time as trying to run an election campaign. Talking about it before the referendum is divisive and it is really difficult to know what is going to happen afterwards. The barriers and difficulties would be significant.

In my personal view the first step has to be to lobby the existing political parties – hard. The networks I suggested above might form a ‘lobbying network’ to try and influence political parties at grassroots level while the lobbying function suggested works at leadership and party manager level. Certainly the Greens (by far the most ‘Common Weal’ party in parliament just now) would need to be targeting becoming a coalition partner if this model was the one that went forward.

But it has to mean something. I believe we are now dealing with politics along two ‘axes’. One runs from left to right (or social democrat to neoliberal or whatever). The other runs from ‘open’ to ‘closed’ – parties that are participative and democratic versus parties which are wedded to a bunker mentality where managers do the ‘real business’ behind closed doors and the members of the party are there to nod appreciatively. Common Weal is all about being in the left-open quadrant and the success of changing political parties (in my option) needs to be measured against both these axes.

What I have said is that if this doesn’t happen, if the two big parties stubbornly stick to their substantially-neoliberal guns, if the Greens and SSP don’t look like making the progress, a political party will emerge (whether I personally like it or not). And if it looked like it was our best remaining chance then I might very actively support it in a personal capacity. But I’ve always believed it was a last resort. (And on a personal note, I have no desire at all for wealth or power. One of the reasons I was keen to set up the Foundation was to be able to spend more time with my young family than I could when commuting and working long hours. It didn’t work out like that and I am a bit of a compulsive worker. But elected politics is a rubbish life and I’ve never wanted it.)

So think about the future of this movement. Be bold. Be ambitious.

Now is no longer the time for a lack of nerves or a lowering of ambition. We – all of us who have knocked a door, shared a link on Facebook, talked, argued, leafleted – we are the centre of gravity of Scottish politics and we have just as much right as anyone to want to shape that future.

I don’t think anyone has failed to be amazed at the sheer volume of outstanding talent that has emerged on the Yes side. We have discovered so many people who are strong, visionary people but who didn’t want to be in a political party. We have gained so much skill and knowledge, become so clever at using social media. And we can be human and real – we can talk freely where political parties censor themselves.

You have no idea how many people have told me they want to find a way to keep going after the vote. Actually, you probably do because you’ve probably heard it a hundred times too. Great. A nation of good people ready to stay on their feet and work for a better future. In many ways that is the most inspiring sentence I’ve ever had the chance to write. I don’t want the buzz of excitement that is the hope for a new Scotland to dissipate, to end up homeless. I want to be involved in a big discussion about what we do next and I’m damned if I’ll be scared off because some people have lost their nerve or because others want to distort and caricature these possible futures and to use them to seek to divide or demoralise the movement.

So we need to win this Yes vote. We need it soooo much. We need to expend all our remaining energy to get it. We must win that vote by being united and moving forward together. But we must win it for a new future.

You wake up to the phone app that gives you your morning radio show covering the news the way you want. Your morning news service has the best political news available waiting for you on your tablet when you get up for breakfast. By lunch you get a digest of the most important things happening around the world that day. Perhaps you get a summary of the best of the day’s blogs in the mid-afternoon. Regular high-quality essays, articles and analysis are a rolling feature. When you get home your evening newscast is waiting for you. Just in time to grab tea and pop out to your local Common where you’ll take in a really interesting political talk, catch some music or a comedian and then talk until late with new friends about land reform or the citizens’ income or political lobbying or whatever catches your mind tonight. You go to bed with schemes and plans and hopes and ideas. You are ready to organise. And this is your day. Every day.

This is where I want to live. Anyone want to help build it?



Categories: Commentary

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37 replies

  1. If you want to be elected to serve, set out your stall and let us know your policies.

  2. It is, I assume, the media doing it’s part for the union, by highlighting “splits” in the broad based YES camp.

  3. This brings tears to my eyes! This is what I have wanted for so long. What an inspirational read this is. I’m going to recommend people to read this. How our country can aspire to be a socially just but hugely welcoming nation to all peoples. We can care about each other and still be a part of huge new kind of Democracy! Thanks Robin.

  4. I’m in & fair looking forward to it!

  5. My politics were formed very early. I was about 12 or 13 when my father, a five-books-a-fortnight man, for the only time handed me a book and said “you must read this”. It was “The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists”. I read it twice. The “Great Money Trick” explained therein remains the basis for my understanding of capitalism, and a much better read than Marx. I walked away from politics more than forty years ago laughing, LAUGHING, about what I have learned to call “the narcissism of small differences” – because the alternative was tears.

    Thanks to my partner Kate I am back and enjoying campaigning with RIC. The national forum we attended in Edinburgh last week probably has representatives of many subtly different persuasions, and not only do I not care what the difference is between, say, a Jonathan Shafi and a Colin Fox, if anybody tries to explain it to me I shall stick my fingers in my ear and sing “A man’s a man for aw that” until they stop – and anyone who has heard me sing knows you would rather have a telling off from Pol Pot.

    I got on this bus because the destination board just said “Further Left”. The more destinations we put on the board, the more people get off the bus.

    I am new to all this – but is seems pretty clear to me that there are two objectives we need now:

    • The Socialist perspective on the Scottish Constitution (we hope)
    • Socialist representation in the next Scottish Parliament (utterly essential no matter what the vote)

    I would have thought the success of organisations like RIC – which could provide a forum for the emergence of my short term goals – was the focus on one goal. Can we do two? And no, I can’t and won’t define “Socialist” because there isn’t enough time. There are so few things we have to agree on to be effective. Linguistics can wait.

    • One of my early reads too David, I plug it to others at every opportunity. It’s actually available as a free download for Kindle or e books. Re read it just last year when I got my Kindle.

      Don’t know if you seen the Livestream of “The Taxi Driver” when he was in Glasgow.
      He explained the money trick right out of the book.

  6. Brilliant post Robin. Your passion shines like a beacon. (Appropriate). Passion is just what we need.

  7. So we need to win this Yes vote. We need it soooo much. We need to expend all our remaining energy to get it. We must win that vote by being united and moving forward together. But we must win it for a new future.

    That’s the important bit !!!

  8. OK, Robin I’m up for it. Kick off with a crowd-sourcing project with the idea of setting up a subscription service? Ask Derek Bateman and other experienced, sympathetic media talent to get involved in a board?

    I’ll help. See me on Facebook (I’m your pal).

  9. Good article Robin. I think the record of political parties that are significantly left wing is salutary in the West. That is to say the record is dire. They tend to be extremely prone to splitting up in spectacularly acrimonious circumstances, and with a lot of ill feeling. The SSP and the SWP are prime examples. I am not a supporter of having an explicitly socialist party for these reasons.

    I think more long term thinking is required here. The idea of supporting individual candidates from different parties is appealing, in that it is positive about building up cross party alliances. I think the one of the most important successes of the Common Weal, and the RIC, is that they have secured backing from Greens, the SNP Left, the Labour Left, SSP, and non affiliated individuals. I think this coalition of groups is the way forward.

    If there is a Yes vote, I don’t see the SNP pursuing a Common Weal approach, I think they will be cautious and try to bed in the new institutions. I am afraid the SNP leadership appear to be wedded to the Laffer curve for some reason. I think Labour would need time to rebuild, given the last few decades. I think Common Weal would need to be able to critique a new Scottish state, and its actions, in a robust and inquiring way. Therefore, your suggestions would seem the way to go to making this a reality.

  10. I agree, we must have a more socially fair society, however a government must be able to govern without daily interference or chaos would ensue. Of course their actions should be for the ultimate betterment of our people, but it must be stable also. It must also be governed for the people with the terms of government held in charter.

    We all have dreams of what Scotland should be. I am just a little concerned of fragmenting a new country before it finds it’s feet. In time we can achieve anything we want to, but let us do it in a timely and thought out manner. There is a danger when rushing into things, all good things come to those who wait, but I do not want to wait tooo long.

    • I think I agree with you Les. If we get a YES vote I may vote for the SNP for the first time round because they have governed well and have experience and then when things are sorted out , then I’ll vote much further to the left. We don’t wnat to vote in chaos and there will be chaos for a time just as when we move house. But it gets sorted out and then we become more decisive. Good article Robin. I’m behind your ideas.all the way.
      Hilary

    • I think 300 odd years is adequate to consider if the experiment was worth it. All that time to arrive at a failed state, only a fool would go along for another experiment. If NO prevails Scot’s are devoid of the survival instinct, and beyond help. Stupidity and ignorance are a formidable combination, allied with fear even more so, ironically exactly the opposite traits that previous generations of Scot’s were held in high esteem for.

  11. As inspiring as always.
    Once we have won I am one of those woken up to the possibility of a better society that “isnae gan hame”.
    Whose wie me?

  12. Imagine what it must be like to be Paul Hutcheon. He’d probably read this article, and instead of thinking about the exciting ideas and possibilities contained within, he’d just be thinking “right, what can I use to write another stitch-up?” What a disappointing life it must be.

    A very suitable response to that nasty little article of his at the weekend (whether that was the intention or not). Let’s hope we can make some of this happen.

  13. The network of the ‘Commons’ starts now – Referendum Cafe will utilise a vacant shop unit in Glasgow to demonstrate how a democratic hub situated on a high street can get people engaged and talking about how they’d like to effect change. See what we’re doing here https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/referendum-cafe-phase-2/x/6962551.

    Great vision Robin and the collaborative force of everything working independently but together is coming across strongly.

  14. Me – I want to help. I want to be part of this. What this can be.

    We can talk Utopia till they kye come home but this Utopia will take time to build. We need to make steps and like followers and shares and retweets, build little on little concrete initiatives till we get where we can stop and only footer with things now and then. Maybe like house rennovation living in the house.

    Scotland has to remain functional through out.

    One thing this debate has lead me to realise – beyond the corruption of the mainstream media and Westminster – is representatio as a concept.

    We need our MPs to represent the views of all their constituents, to the extent perhaps that the name Member of Parllament which speaks to Gentlemen’s Clubs and turning a blind eye to or scattering sawdust over “unfortunate indiscretions”, should be replaced with the term Representative (of the People of [Constituency name]).

    In terns of issues of conscience where the current MPs have a free vote – these should be referred to referenda (I think of controversial or moral issues, in order that the view of each member of our society of voting age is represented, not the view of one person for every constituency).

    And accountability – for which we do need, as you say a investigative press. Names are evlolving from this process of polticisation that the Indy Debate is creating. I love the idea of media other than written being in control of the people in the same way that Yes has been owned. In terms of written we can build on Bella and Newsnet.

    I do NOT think Common Weal should become a party. it should – as you say – be lobbyist, over-seer, forum, incubator of ideas. The ideals of Common Weal in terms of policy may or may not be adopted by specific political parties, but Common Weal should remain apart. The structure and organisation – the structure of dialogue for – with – as Common Weal remains an area of interest (I draw comparison to the concept of Assessment is for Learning): multi-nature and multi-directional dialogue.

    I like the idea of there being local and regional representatives for Common Weal on a very local level that are fed into (via the Common Hubs or Fora -including online Fora but one of the huge positives of this debate is not only the online engagement but the public meetings) and themselves feed into a more regional group. Not downwards governance but upwards. The proposed constitution allows for non-party political observers or experts or advisers. This is a role Common Weal as a foundation could take on – although not exclusively.

    The term – for me – that has evolved – is colloquium/a. Conversations.
    My dream is that – the covering of basic human needs and rights apar – that Yes Scotland changes the mode of engagement so that adversarial politics (as was) changes more consistently and moves to this idea of colloquium (as in someway it has). A broadly left and green colloquium and in fairness of disclosure I have JUST joined the SSP after years in a poltical wilderness but see this as a basis for conversation and dialogue with others.

    The BBC-Labour stushie over Leanne Wood’s involvement in the Indy Ref Debate via the invitation of Radical Independance in which they are creating a story – a scandal – wherein she is countering Plaid’s manifesto is a nonsense of all too believable ridiculousness. It comes on the back of Scottish Labour tweeting this morning about Salmond vs Scotland: Scotland Needs You.

    The sheer *something* of this (I have no word) is so… playground. So 13 year old girls in the toilets.

    What it shows is utter political immaturity, and a need to change from oppositional politics of booing and taking a huff to adult conversation, decisions with ongoing revisions to meet the needs of the people concerned.

    While I have read Common Weal online, I keep buying paper copies which I end up lending out. I am so impressed however by what I have read, and do thank you immensely for holding this vision of the country I would like up for all to see.

  15. Thank you for this Robin. It echoes many of my own thoughts. Im in. Will help whatever way I can. Have an idea to start with.

  16. I’ve been thinking a fair bit about post Yes, and posted something in the Graun today specifically relating to how a Common Weal themed political movement might actually be plausible (here’s the link – http://discussion.theguardian.com/comment-permalink/38467396). In brief my idea is asking willing political parties to sign up to a common manifesto designed around the Common Weal, then submit candidates to fight under that banner whose order on the constituency list for Holyrood would be chosen by all the people who wanted to participate in a given area. It would basically be an introduction of a primary into Scottish politics. Give the power to the people.

    I’ve no idea how the parties themselves would feel about something along these lines. They would have to subsume their identity a bit (although I’m completely positive they would end up having collectively much more representation than now if they did). But in my opinion this is potentially a plausible way to increase the chances of the Common Weal actually being implemented. I’d also say anything outwith the Common Weal could be left to the elected members own conscience or their party policy on any given subject.

    I don’t know if this is a good idea, I can’t see any obvious flaws in it, but I’m maybe missing something hugely obvious.

  17. I’d certainly jump at the chance of getting involved. The only way Scotland is going to get the media that we sorely need is if we build it ourselves.

  18. What an inspiring article. I cannot think of an improvement on the ideas you put forward. As an expat I have been so engaged politically these last two years through these new indie sites. Bella Caledonia must continue to flourish and many more enterprises too. The potential is immense and Scotland will never be the same. The imagination has been unleashed and the door to another room a better place is possible. Now it has been opened it will never be closed again for the energy that you and countless others have put into opening the conversation, sharing the ideas, dreaming the dreams can never be counted and contained. It will grow and flourish. Scotland is never going to return to the old misery story for it was only ever a partial truth anyway. As one of the ancients it has given me a whole new energy level of interest and confidence in myself and fellow travellers. The Scots have shared their skills and enterprise wherever they have settled. The new Scotland will be another opportunity to show others that common decency and dignity can be the foundations of a community different and daring. The old models have run their course. It is the time to live as if we are living in a better place. Bella Caledonia for a better future.

  19. Could not agree more
    A first step I think, would be a clear and unimpeachable [as much as we could make it]
    definition of the media’s role,rights and responsibility’s written into the Constitution.
    Plus some sort of ownership clause designed to prevent monopoly,s although that may
    be more problematic from an International point of view

    .

  20. Democracy is about power and how power is distributed. Real democracy means that the people as a whole are in control and make the important decisions. Representative government is not democracy. It is a giving away of ones birthright for something that almost always ends up as a mess of pottage.

    The only non-violent way for the power relationships to be radically changed (and surely everyone agrees that this is what needs to happen – perhaps everyone except those ‘on the inside’ who rather like undemocratic unrepresentative party-dominated government) is through a constitution. The first necessity in a newly independent Scotland is a constitutional convention whose members would be drawn from the whole of society. It would have 18-24 months to produce a draft convention, with input from all sectors of society. The final draft would then be presented for approval or rejection in a national referendum.

    That’s the only effective way of changing the distribution of power in the country. A democratic constitution would express the reality of popular sovereignty and set out how that was to be implemented. It is not a case of reinventing the wheel. There are models, none of them perfect, but at a minimum a genuinely democratic constitution would have to include rights of initiative (to propose new laws or amend or strike down existing ones) and referendum (any significant change to the constitution would need to be approved in a national referendum).

    The constitution could include measures for regional and local democracy to avoid the concentration of power in the centre. The principle should be that decisions are made at the lowest practicable level i.e. the level closest to the people who will be affected by them. There is every reason to think in terms of an administrative division of Scotland along the lines of the Swiss cantonal system. Switzerland has 26 cantons and four national languages. Its central government consists of 7 individuals from four different political parties. Each canton has its own constitution and local parliament. And Swiss direct democracy reaches every level – national, regional and local. In any year voters can be asked to vote on all three levels, making as many as 20 different decisions. The smallest canton has only 30,000 inhabitants.

    I don’t know of a better system anywhere. It’s far from perfect. Vested interests still have far too much power. And such a system is not immune from shifts in public consciousness such as we have witnessed across Europe over the past ten years or so – especially in the lurch to the right in the wake of the lies about Islamic fundamentalist terrorism. That is why Robin’s call for an independent media is so important. A good constitution would include rules for the behaviour of the media. In Switzerland there is an unwritten rule that the media must devote equal time or column inches to both sides of a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ decision in a referendum.

    Without a new constitution there would be the same old jockeying for power between the established parties. That’s not what I want to see in an independent Scotland.

  21. Excellent article. As an agent of Unionism, Paul Hutcheon will be in touch with his political bed partners (Who knows what manner or pond life is contained within that grouping.) in determining the course of action most detrimental to the Yes campaign. Some of Mr Hutcheon’s past articles have been rabidly anti-Indy (With most venom being reserved for the current First Minister.), so a change of editorial stance at the Sunday Herald won’t have altered his outlook. Expect more of this, and worse.

  22. A much more positive post, Robin, than your previous rather angry one on this site.

    There is a great deal of support for the Common Weal ( I found the book rather heavy going ) and if the project is not to founder in an iScotland, a vehicle to keep it up there will be necessary and this will certainly need to be political. And, of course the Constitution will be critical, as mentioned above.

  23. Fantastic article. Sign me up for the new media funding. As well as ideas about how to build a new fairer Scotland, and combat the corrosive acidity of neo-liberalism on our society, investigation, and accurate and comprehensive coverage of what is going on in our parliament and municipalities, we need to cover the diversity of Scotland, from Yell to Yetholm. Hugh MacDiarmid once wrote: ‘Is Scotland small? Our multiform, our infinite, Scotland small?’ and the sense of the richness and potential of Scotland needs to come across.

    http://www.scottishpoetrylibrary.org.uk/poetry/poems/scotland-small

  24. Reblogged this on charlesobrien08 and commented:
    Worth reading.

  25. I agree wholeheartedly that a hub can act as an arbor to catalytic change around which the Common Weal can turn. The Scottish Enlightenment emerged from the symbiotic mixing of various classes in close proximity under the hothouse conditions of the old town tenements- a communal co-mingling of shared & mutually challenged ideas between the lower & higher classes all living in the same closes. The Greek Demos emerged from the wine swilling street gatherings of Socrates et al; Cafe culture of Voltaire, Rousseau & Diderot’s Paris or the Inns of Shakespeare’s London were incubators of new exciting ideas, well away from the censorial atmosphere of academia, & other established sources of sanctioned ‘knowledge’- the hub can be a new version of this incubational disseminator of new ideas.

    This would be in sharp contrast to the UK that is rapidly emerging in affluent areas where we have elite power brokers removing themselves from the general population in gated communities & increasingly privatized spaces- totally opposed to the very spirit of democracy. One thing this referendum has shown is just how much contempt these elites have for democracy & how they secretly desire authoritarianism- this is what we’re fighting against. These people want to pull us back to the dark ages of Dickensian UK with no labour rights, low paid work, no civil rights, tax breaks for the rich, class apartheid & social exclusion that will endanger the functioning of democracy in this country. The lessons of history are that when people are free to mix then ideas will travel faster & further & that is good for human progress- this is why elitism is so pernicious: as it ultimately threatens the development of human progress.

    Much catalyst to change comes from hope, taking a chance & keeping it alive- enthusiasm is the nutrition we need to keep the movement sustained- & a network of hubs would certainly make that more possible.

  26. I love your passion and your ideas on creating and maintaining public ‘places’ where people can continue to engage with each other. No-one can split those who support Scottish self government. Those who are committed to it understand that it doesn’t come with guarantees as to how an independent Scotland would evolve. It is and has always been based on the simple premise that Scotland is a country in its own right and would be a better place if it was governed by those who live there. It is a simple idea that brings with it the potential for a common sense of purpose. The most recent phase of struggle to achieve that goal has been really fruitful. So many people have come forward with great ideas and most importantly the ability to put them into practice. We are sharing a common sense of purpose right now and it feels good because it is good. This is the antidote to the traumatic experience of being subjected to the lies and smears of those who believe that absolute self interest is the highest level to which human beings can aspire – the lowest common denominator. I have reached the age where my future is going to be short. I so hope that those of you who take the struggle into ithe next phase of creating a more egalitarian society are successful. Implement the ideas of Robin and others to nurture independence of thought and create a ‘good enough’ society.

  27. £145.50
    Times number of people who cancel TV licence from 18/9/2014 and sign Declaration supporting New Scotland OnLine Media Trust
    Trustees say Leslie Riddoch, Mike Small, Patrick Harvie, Derek Bateman…..
    Plus savings from not buying daily and weekend newspapers
    The sum above plus (selected) adverts could fund daily newscasts, film documentaries etc from a Scottish, environmental, local empowerment viewpoint for those who will choose to reject the current media
    As well as giving people an alternative to the current media it would provide stimulus for Scottish film makers and writers and local activists

    • I think this is a really fantastic idea & something that would certainly invigorate the creative industries in Scotland- a new modern nation definitely needs a robust television & film industry- these kinds of funds would certainly generate enough to build first class infrastructure.

  28. I could see the Common Weal sponsorship of MSPs work something like how the Coop sponsorship of some Labour MPs does. Except I like your idea of offering it across any party. I could see old style One Nation Tories liking it. The sort of Tory party that could rise in Scotland once it is shorn from the London party. This isn’t because I want to be a Tory voter, just to illustrate the breadth such a scheme could encompass.

    My only worry is party bosses objecting and banning their candidates accepting such nominations. In order to achieve cross party acceptability I fear the CW principles would have to be so watered down as to be pointless. The last thing the movement needs is to be seen as irrelevant.

    But if it could be achieved it would be a means by which the entire politics could be realigned in Scotland. The default assumptions of most politicians would be different, more communitarian, less wowed by big business, asking Qui bono? more often and if The People are not in the answer rejecting it automatically.

  29. It is understandable that talk of a new political party should be seen as a distraction this close to the referendum vote.
    However, Robin McAlpine has produced a 132 page manifesto which has a vision of a ‘fundamentally different Scotland.’ None of the four main parties wants to go down this road. (I regard a Green/Common Weal union as a non-starter.)
    This means that talk of a ‘Common Weal Party’, in the near future, becomes unavoidable, if the CW ideals are to be put into practice.
    It is through political parties that major political change can be achieved.
    We are having a referendum because, and only because, of the SNP’s electoral success in 2011.

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