Daily Archives: November 26, 2013

Scotland’s Future: For People Who Live and Work Here With Certain Values

scot future wordcloud

In the Scottish Government White Paper Scotland’s Future (26.11.13), the phrase ‘live and work here’ is asked to do quite a lot of work. It starts off as a simple ‘live here’, to demonstrate the SNP and Scottish Government’s commitment to civic nationalism (the phrase has changed over the years from ‘Scottish people’ to ‘people of Scotland’ to ‘people who live here’). This is about the self determination of a population defined by residence, not ethnicity:

  • ‘We, the people who live here, have the greatest stake in making Scotland a success’ (i)
  • ‘The Scottish Government wants us to have the powers of independence so that people who live here can build a different and better Scotland’ (3)
  • ‘With independence the Scottish Parliament will have all the powers we need in Scotland to make life better for the people who live here’ (28)
  • ‘Driving our ambition is the firm knowledge that Scotland, and all of the people who live here, should be enjoying the benefits of higher levels of sustainable economic growth’ (45)
  • ‘Given the breadth and depth of our economic strengths, Scotland is better placed than most to ensure a secure future for the people who live here’ (57)
  • ‘With independence, decisions on the taxes we pay, the state pension, the delivery of all public services, and policies that affect our economy and society will be taken in Scotland based on the needs and interests of the people who live here’ (59)
  • ‘With independence, decisions on the taxes we pay, the state pension, the delivery of all public services, and policies that affect our economy and society will be taken in Scotland based on the needs and interests of the people who live here’ (60)
  • ‘With independence, Scotland’s Parliament will be able to make sure that Scotland’s wealth works better for the people who live here, and will mean a better quality of life for people in Scotland’ (374)
  • ‘With independence, the Scottish Parliament will have all the powers we need in Scotland to make life better for the people who live here’ (376)
  • ‘Scotland is one of the wealthiest nations in the world and one of the purposes of independence is to make sure that wealth works better for the people who live here’ (470)

Then, it is joined by ‘work here’, perhaps as a nod to Swedish style citizenship which is linked closely to working practices, or perhaps to a focus on economic activity, not its tag as a recipient of a disproportionate amount of government spending. So, now, the people who live and work here care most about it and, therefore, will make better decisions in relation to Scotland:

  • ‘it will be better for all of us if decisions about Scotland are taken by the people who care most about Scotland – the people who live and work here’ (Salmond, viii and ix)
  • ‘Decisions about Scotland will be taken by the people who care most about Scotland – those who live and work here’ (xii)
  • ‘Scotland should be independent because the best people to take decisions about Scotland’s future are those of us who live and work here’ (541).
  • ‘The Scottish Government supports independence because we believe it will be better for us all if decisions about Scotland are taken by the people who care most about Scotland – the people who live and work here’ (544).

The people who live and work here should benefit from its wealth:

  • ‘We are a wealthy country and yet the full benefit of our vast wealth is not felt by the people who live and work here’ (24; 377)
  • ‘With independence, we can turn our rich country into a prosperous society, with the many strengths of our economy delivering more for the people who live and work here’ (377)

The people who live and work here have families:

  • ‘We believe independence is the right choice for Scotland because it is better for you and your family if decisions about Scotland are taken by the people who care most about Scotland: the people who live and work here’ (374)

Then we take a different path, linking this living and working here phrase with the aim of subsidiarity:

  • ‘We believe that the people who live and work in Scotland are best placed to make decisions about our future – the essence of self-determination. Therefore we support subsidiarity and local decision making’ (367)
  • ‘The current Scottish Government is clear that the people who live and work in Scotland are best-placed to make decisions about our future. This is the essence of self-determination, and accordingly we are committed to subsidiarity and local decision making in public life. Our commitment to local autonomy and self-determination is central to our approach to local government’ (578).

This focus on more local devolution confuses me a bit because I thought that independence was about Scottishness, Scottish policymaking and living and working in Scotland. The aim for a Scottish-level settlement often seems to rub up roughly against the aim for a level of government (with significant powers) below Scotland. The Scottish Government seems to agree to some extent, because one of the few phrases to be repeated more than ‘live and work here’ is values – some of the time relating to SNP or Scottish Government values, but most of the time to Scottish national values which will presumably be upheld at the national level by the Scottish Government (p3 also states that ‘the people of Scotland will always get governments we vote for’, which suggests that the Scottish level remains most important). The White Paper does not (I think) explain why living and working in Scotland gives you those (largely social democratic) Scottish values, but they seem to exist nonetheless:

  • ‘to build a country that reflects our priorities as a society and our values as a people’ (Salmond, viii);
  • ‘Our national story has been shaped down the generations by values of compassion, equality, an unrivalled commitment to the empowerment of education, and a passion and curiosity for invention that has helped to shape the world around us’ (Salmond, viii)
  • ‘In an independent Scotland we envisage a welfare system based on clear principles and values: support for people who work; a safety net for people who cannot work; and a climate of social solidarity’ (11)
  • ‘An independent Scotland will have national security arrangements that reflect Scotland’s needs, values and the risks and threats we face’ (16);
  • ‘With independence we can make different choices in line with our values and the views of the people of Scotland’ (28);
  • ‘If we transfer decision-making powers from Westminster to Scotland we are more likely to see policies that are in tune with the values of the people of Scotland, that close the gap between rich and poor, and provide greater opportunities for everyone in Scotland regardless of their background’ (40);
  • (if the vote is No) ‘There is no assurance that decisions on the key issues that affect Scotland’s prosperity, security and future will be made in line with the interests and values of the people who live here’ (example: Scottish MPs rejected the bedroom tax);
  • ‘a vision for the type of economy and society that captures Scotland’s distinct values’ (94);
  • ‘building a welfare system, based on clear principles and values that: supports people who work; provides support for people who cannot work; and fosters a climate of social solidarity’ (152);
  • ‘successive Scottish governments have made steady improvements to Scotland’s health and the quality of healthcare, while protecting the NHS as a free, truly public service, consistent with the values of the NHS and the priorities of people in Scotland’ (170);
  • ‘Free education for those able to benefit from it is a core part of Scotland’s educational tradition and the values that underpin our educational system. One of the major achievements of devolved government in Scotland has been to restore this right to Scottish domiciled undergraduate students’ (199);
  • ‘protection of Scotland, our people and our resources. This encompasses the role of defence and security capabilities in ensuring the safety of Scotland’s territory, citizens, institutions, values and systems against factors which could undermine prosperity, wellbeing and freedom’ (209);
  • ‘Scotland and the rest of the UK will have a very close and constructive relationship on many foreign policy issues; it is natural that the values and interests of such close neighbours will often be aligned’ (216);
  • ‘This Government plans that Scotland will be an active and committed participant in the Common Foreign and Security Policy. The EU’s external policies support stability, promote human rights and democracy, seek to spread prosperity, and support the enforcement of the rule of law and good governance, complementing the foreign policy efforts of individual states. Scotland would benefit from this Europe-wide approach which is broadly aligned with Scotland’s values’ (226);
  • ‘As an expression of the values driving our foreign policy, this Government will ensure that other Scottish Government policies do no harm to developing countries, do not undermine international development aims and ideally contribute to international development success’ (231)
  • (Scotland’s defence force will be responsible for) ‘protecting Scotland’s national interests and economic wellbeing, alongside the key values and underlying principles that support Scottish society and our way of life’ (236)
  • ‘With independence, we can ensure that security and intelligence functions are focused on defending our democratic values and securing our fundamental rights and freedoms’ (257)
  • ‘Our justice system provides the foundation for delivering the kind of nation Scotland should be – a thriving and successful European country, reflecting shared values of fairness and opportunity, and promoting prosperity and social cohesion’ (257)
  • ‘Independence will enable Scotland to build a modern, European democracy, founded on a written constitution, enshrining the fundamental rights and values that underpin our society and based on the principle of the sovereignty of the people of Scotland’ (332)
  • ‘As an independent country, we will be able to choose how to spend our money, based on the needs and values of the Scottish people, not on choices made at Westminster’ (426)
  • ‘As NHS Scotland is already under the control of the Scottish Parliament, its values and priorities will continue on independence’ (438)
  • (Social justice) ‘With independence we can make different choices in line with our values and the views of the people of Scotland’(443)
  • ‘Scotland values our diverse ethnic minority communities, the contribution they make and the important role they play in enriching Scotland socially, culturally and economically’ (492)
  • ‘The opportunity of independence will also allow Scotland to adopt a new humane approach to asylum seekers and refugees in line with our values and commitment to upholding internationally recognised human rights’ (493)

Perhaps ironically, what is not clear from the White Paper (I think) is exactly who is eligible to vote. It is not simply about living and working here and holding certain values.

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The International Image of Scottish Devolution: a view from Japan

When I gave my talk on the lessons that UK regionalism might provide for Japan , it was followed by commentary by my co-author Professor Mikine Yamazaki and some questions from the audience. I know that a few people are not representative, but the comments are still interesting, since they reveal an image of the UK and Scottish devolution based on a very different and sometimes surprising perspective. Some highlights (based on my notes from interpreted Japanese) include:

1.Others May See Scotland in a Very Positive Light

  • Scottish devolution is one of the most successful in the world (a point made before two main qualifications: it is only one of many regional outcomes in the UK and Europe; it was not inevitable – rather, there is a long history of devolution movements).
  • Scotland seeks to be globally competitive by pursuing innovation in scientific research and energy. It is one of the world leading countries in life sciences (remember Dolly the Sheep?) and has many world class Universities. Many of its medical schools are world class. It invests extensively in R&D and its companies are often acquired when they become successful (sometimes by Japanese firms).
  • Scotland is capitalising on its renewable energy potential (making good use of its bad weather) and has some of the most ambitious targets on the proportion of electricity produced via renewable sources (including the aim to produce 100% of its energy needs from renewables by 2020).
  • Overall, the Scottish Government is capitalising on its regional characteristics and developing a unique policymaking style in a ‘new era of globalisation’ (note Japan’s focus on regionalism and fiscal devolution as a way to address trends in economic globalisation).

2.Others May See Scotland as a Source of Inspiration for Regionalism

There is a recognition that Scotland’s history and particular circumstances cannot be replicated in Japanese regions, which lack: high levels of regional identity; popular demands for a degree of self-government; the pre-devolution sense of a ‘democratic deficit’ (voting in Scotland for one government, Labour, but receiving another, Conservative); and, the perception that a Conservative government imposed unpopular policies in Scotland and exacerbated the democratic deficit. However, some of the language about Scotland was revealing since, for some, it provided a broad source of inspiration:

  • The UK experience shows us that people have to be able to feel that devolution has taken place, which requires a comprehensive devolution of legislative powers from central to local (the context is piecemeal devolution to local government in Japan).
  • The Scottish experience can inspire regions to be bold and to make a leap.
  • Even if some regions might be worse off economically, regionalism requires the courage to act.

Overall, the Scottish experience and attitude has become, for some, a beacon of hope (as opposed to a source of detailed reforms). This is an image that you might struggle to find within Scotland.

See also: The World is Watching the Scottish Independence Debate http://www.futureukandscotland.ac.uk/blog/world-watching-scottish-independence-debate

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