A new vision for Scotland (and the UK)

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Regardless of whether Scots vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ in September’s referendum on independence, their country (and the UK) will never be the same again. The run-up to the vote has allowed Scotland to create a vision for the kind of society it would like to have, the social and economic policies it would like to introduce, and the type of governance needed to make them happen. It has been an opportunity to re-imagine their country, and, through that re-imagining, a new type of politics has emerged, one that comes from the grassroots, is inclusive and engaging.

In this edition of New Start we present some of those visions. Our series of essays begins with the Common Weal project, which advocates a politics of ‘all-of-us-first’ rather than ‘me-first’, a society to enhance lives rather than strip people of their wealth.

Scotland has made breakthroughs in terms of common ownership of land and, in the second essay, Andy Wightman says the social, environmental and economic potential of greater control of land and natural resources is huge.

Kate Higgins explains how the run-up to the referendum has already renewed democracy north of the border, fueling new levels of political engagement, while, in the fourth essay, entrepreneur Iain Scott calls for an unleashing of the Scottish entrepreneurial spirit as it moves towards a more ‘can-do’ culture.

Jim McCormick outlines the anti-poverty agenda that is building up ahead of the referendum vote, and Neil McInroy, a Scot living in England, rounds off the series with thoughts on the future of England, post-referendum. ‘The UK and England will never be the same again’, he says. ‘There will be no going back. The question is only about the scale of change, not whether change will happen.’

Post-referendum, the hard work will begin to turn these visions into reality, keep new levels of political engagement high, and make social and economic change happen.

A society based on the Common Weal2_Robin McAlpine small

By Robin McAlpine, director of the Jimmy Reid Foundation.

A little over a year ago a small group of us decided that it would be a terrible wasted opportunity if we get to the end of the Scottish independence campaign without properly exploring what difference independence might make. It’s an enormous opportunity to be allowed to think about what your nation could be afresh.

So Scottish left-of-centre think tank the Jimmy Reid Foundation started the Common Weal project. The name was taken from an old Scottish phrase meaning both wealth shared in common and for the wellbeing of all. It was supposed to be six reports covering some of the things that could be done with the powers of independence.

But as soon as we announced it we were inundated with offers from academics, economics, activists, writers and thinkers. All of them wanted to contribute. The project is now made up of over 50 papers and reports covering everything from housing to finance, art and culture to investment, industry development to land reform.

It all points to a different direction. The conflict model of UK politics assumes that if we encourage a war of all against all then whoever wins must be ‘the best’. In this twisted form of social Darwinism the best society will result from endlessly backing the most powerful against the least powerful (with a little charity to bail them out of the worst of their misery).

But after 40 years of this ‘me-first’ politics we all came second. Only a tiny proportion of the population really benefited as inequality soared and the proportion of national wealth that went into the pockets of ordinary people shrunk and shrunk. It is no good. We need a politics that puts ‘all-of-us-first’. This politics doesn’t encourage a fight and then waits to see who wins but instead tries to create the conditions in which everyone has the best chance of benefiting.

But who can read 50 papers? So we wrote them up as one ‘story‘ – no jargon, no references, no footnotes, no bullet-points, just simple language. It is a plea for a better Scotland, a Scotland transformed to put the interests of its citizens ahead of the interests of corporations.

How can we do it? Once we have changed our political philosophy we start with democracy. Real community politics give people control, real participatory processes of government mean government has to reflect what people want, simple language makes politics accessible. Politics stops looking like a remote political class and starts looking like – well, us.

We can start to design society not for profit but for life.

Everywhere you look you see a society which has been built not to enhance our lives

but to strip us of wealth. We must fight back and build a society for us.

All the rest of our problems begin with our low-wage economy, the second lowest-paid economy among all advanced economies. If we can get more money in people’s pockets we get out of the low-tax take, high benefits catastrophe which is UK public finances. End deficit with a few tax rises, create a major investment strategy and put all our efforts into building a high-wage economy and we will have all the public wealth we need.

The high-wage economy comes from having a productive economy – something the UK definitely does not have. Manufacturing and productive business needs skill and skilled workers are better paid. Tweaks and nudges didn’t work; we need an industrial policy to transform the economy.

In the modern world there are many things that we cannot really live without – education, healthcare, energy, housing, communications, food, land. These things can either be controlled privately and used to make profit from us all for them or they can be controlled collectively and make us all better off. We need much greater collective control of life’s essentials.

We work far too many hours in Britain and we have very little industrial democracy. We need a major change in the workplace to give workers a much stronger say and we need a plan to reduce the hours we work. Not only will this improve lives, it will improve businesses.

But if we don’t have work, Britain is the worst place in Europe to be – illness, retirement and unemployment are times of major financial anxiety for many. It doesn’t need to be like that. We can create a system of social security so people can stop living in fear, but we need to tackle the problems of insecurity one by one, like creating a living wage and greatly increasing the amount of high-quality public rental housing.

People in Britain are financially insecure. We have low pay and high mortgages and no-one trusts the banks. To create financial security we need to increase prosperity, and to do that we need to greatly reduce inequality. That needs a process of industrial democracy, social security and an economic transformation. Then we need a proper, publicly-owned community banking sector that we can trust.

We need to take human security much more seriously. Of course we need some basic territorial defence but the real threat to the security of people is not an invasion by an imaginary enemy but the impact of flooding, food and energy security, environmental degradation and all the real problems we face. That should be our national priority.

Once we have done all this we can start to design society not for profit but for life. Everywhere you look you see a society which has been built not to enhance our lives but to strip us of wealth. We must fight back and build a society for us.

Westminster seems obsessed with the idea that there are ‘magic buttons’, simple one-action solutions that will fix everything (if only we cut tax/regulation/public spending…). This is complete rubbish. The only thing that matters is everything we do. If we want to change our lives we need to roll our sleeves up and really get on with it.

Common Weal is a vision of Scotland’s future, whatever the outcome of the referendum. Nevertheless, almost all of us involved no longer believe that Westminster is ever going to get its act together and offer a politics fit for its citizens. That’s why most of us support independence – we just want the powers to try and rescue our society. Because if we get the powers we need we have everything else – the national wealth, the skills and knowledge, the collective will. And if we can do it, then the other people of the UK can point to us and say ‘why can’t we live like that too?’. It is a change that can transform lives well beyond Scotland.

What won’t do is crossing our fingers. How many times must we hear the same promises? We’ve had 40 years of me-first politics and we all came second. It’s time for a politics that puts all-of-us-first.

Andy Wightman 1 SALand reform can shape a new future for Scotland

By Andy Wightman, author and founder of Who Owns Scotland

In 1996 I wrote a book called Who Owns Scotland. It was an attempt to answer the obvious question, to analyse the pattern of landownership in Scotland and explore how a programme of land reform might deliver a more equitable society. I concluded that progress on this matter would be slow until Scotland had a legislature accountable to the Scottish people. Westminster only afforded a handful of legislative slots per session and the House of Lords represented a powerful barrier to any radical reform of land law.

I therefore welcomed the establishment of the Scottish parliament in 1999. It achieved a great deal in its first term thanks to the work of the land reform policy group set up in 1997. Among these achievements was the abolition of feudal tenure, a right of access to land and a legal right of rural communities to register an interest in land and buy it if and when it came to be sold.

Since 2003, however, the land reform programme has stalled. Land relations in Scotland remain archaic, the pattern of landownership is still concentrated in the hands of a few, the fiscal framework is not fit for purpose and land market failures across urban and rural Scotland cause blight, over-priced land and inadequate housing. Community land rights have been prejudiced through covert appropriation of common land, inheritance law denies rights to children, and the ownership of large areas of land is concealed behind anonymous offshore companies.

Across Scotland there are a growing number of examples where, despite a flawed land tenure regime, individuals and communities are doing amazing things, but too often people’s talents and ambitions are constrained by the prevailing control and division of land. Releasing this potential through a programme of land reform could deliver huge social, economic and environmental benefits.

For example, the abolition of feudal tenure in 2004 enabled many homeowners and businesses on the Isle of Arran to be liberated from the control of a one particular landowner, who used his feudal powers to block development.

Relatively modest measures to encourage community ownership of land and property have revolutionised life in many parts of Scotland by increasing employment, attracting new businesses and refurbishing housing. Loss-making estates have turned a profit and young people are returning to places which once only saw emigration.

Releasing this potential through a programme of land

reform could deliver huge social, economic and environmental benefits.

The Scottish government’s land reform review group (LRRG) recently published a wide-ranging and detailed report containing recommendations to expand and diversify landownership in Scotland with a view to ensuring that Scotland’s land is owned and used in the public interest and for the common good.

The recommendations include longer and more secure tenancies for private housing tenants, new powers of compulsory purchase, the establishment of a Housing Land Corporation to acquire land, new arrangements for common good land, the devolution of the Crown Estate, removing exemptions from business rates enjoyed by owners of rural land, giving children the right to inherit land, prohibiting companies in tax havens from registering title, protecting common land from land grabbing, reviewing hunting rights, limiting the amount of land any one beneficial owner can own and introducing a wide range of new powers for communities to take more control of the land around them in towns, cities and the countryside.

Such proposals could lead to a very different future for communities in urban and rural Scotland. Urban communities could deal with blight and dereliction. Housing tenure could be improved for tenants. Property taxes would be more equitable and progressive. Land speculation and hoarding could be eliminated and lower land costs would make housing more affordable and of higher quality.

In rural areas, communities could, like they do in many European countries, govern key local assets such as forests and fisheries. Resources which are currently managed in the interests of absentee owners could, instead, benefit the local economy. A good example is forestry.

Across Scandinavia, towns and workplaces empty during holidays as people head out to the woods. There, they will pick berries, relax in the sunshine and go swimming in the lake. But it’s not just playtime. One community wood I visited in Norway last year generated £500,000 annual income and supported two sawmills and a high-quality timber house factory. Imagine a Scotland of small-scale forestry, of farm forestry, of small-scale rural businesses, of community forests.

This is not a romantic dream – it’s the reality in France and Finland – but it is a million miles from the nihilistic, corporatist model we have developed in Scotland, where celebrities and wealthy individuals from the UK and abroad are given free rein to exploit the public funds provided to expand Scotland’s forests as a source of personal tax-free aggrandisement.

Land and natural resources are, along with people, the most important assets a country possesses. For too long, the means by which land is owned and governed has been almost a taboo subject and politicians and policy makers are traditionally cautious and uncertain in how to approach the topic. This has encouraged excessive timidity in the face of powerful vested interests and the inevitable legal complexity of some of the measures necessary.

With rising awareness, knowledge and understanding of the issues and the possible solutions, more and more people are engaging in this debate and exploring how reform of land relations holds out the promise of a greatly enhanced quality of life for communities across urban and rural Scotland. The LRRG urged the Scottish government to ‘be radical in its thinking and bold in its action.’ With 58 of the 62 recommendations fully devolved to the Scottish parliament there is no excuse for Scotland’s politicians to prevaricate.

Regardless of the outcome of September’s referendum, there is a broad consensus that things must change and there are ample fiscal and legislative powers available right now to make it happen. This could be the moment when folk wake up and realise that what they have taken for granted for so long is no longer good enough. The potential is there. The people just need to be set free to shape a new future. Land reform provides the tools to do so. What are we waiting for?


katehigginsA new type of politics is emerging

By Kate Higgins, writer and blogger

‘Is voter apathy now the norm?’ Visit Scotland and you will discover that the answer is no. Travel any distance, visit any café or pub, stand still long enough and soon you will hear people talking about the referendum. People in Scotland are talking politics. Better than that, they are actively engaged in considering what kind of country they want to live in and then sharing their hopes, aspirations, fears and doubts with friends, family, work colleagues and neighbours. There has never been such an intimate and expansive discourse on politics in my lifetime. It is a privilege to be taking part.

This is the starting point not just for democratic renewal in Scotland, but also for the creation of a new social and economic capital. What is the vision for social justice? Such visions are springing up everywhere and, on one thing, most agree: they think their country has done not too badly but it could do so much better. Things could – for some, must – change.

What differs is how best to achieve that. Do we vote yes to independence and take charge of all the powers a normal country needs to go about its daily business, all the levers required to bring about a more equitable and fair society? Or do we vote no and as now seems likely, end up with more devolution: more powers to raise our own funds and more responsibilities to enable delivery of our priorities?

Those who advocate some form of devo-plus have mixed motives. Some really do not want to hand over control, to shift the balance of power away from the south east of England (or rather, from one square mile in London). We hear the voices of the establishment, whose hands are currently on the tiller and whose voices are loud, pockets are deep and interests are vested utterly in the status quo, every day now in this debate.

Some believe that the best of both worlds for Scotland and the UK is a Labour-led government: they still believe that their party is the UK’s best hope at delivering a fairer, more just society for us all to live in. Where no child is left behind. Where everyone earns a living wage. Where private money does not run rampant through our public sector. Where the workers have rights and the bosses have obligations. Where having a decent, affordable home is a right, not a privilege. Where the poor really can become the rich, as my ten year old son put it when asked for his wish for Scotland.

This is the starting point not just for democratic renewal

in Scotland, but also for the creation of a new social and economic capital.

I share those aspirations. Indeed, take the constitutional question out of the equation and there is far more which unites many Scots than divides, even across the parties. But we disagree fundamentally on the mechanism. A no vote in 2014 won’t deliver the kind of Labour government many of us would like to see win the 2015 UK election. But a yes vote in 2014 could. A yes vote could result in a political earthquake with old party ties rent asunder and new shoots emerging. Not just in Scotland but everywhere in the UK.

Independence is not an end in itself. Would it deliver social justice for Scots? Possibly. But only if everyone whose appetite for politics has been sparked by the referendum debate stays engaged beyond September.

Independence brings about the tangible probability of change, of a more socially just Scotland. That could mean going back to a very old Labour way, to recreating the kind of Just Scotland espoused by our trade union movement. Or it could mean moving forward, creating a socially democratic country as promoted by the Common Weal project. It’s all good. If Scotland votes yes, these sorts of platforms are likely to feature heavily in manifestos in our first independent elections in 2016. That might focus minds elsewhere on these islands.

If that whets your political whistle, you might want to help Scotland achieve a Yes vote in September. A yes vote wouldn’t mean separation or Scotland going it alone. It would be a way of signaling an appetite for change which is deep and meaningful, and not just the seat shifting which results currently in Westminster elections. A yes vote would signpost a way to solidarity, to creating a more socially democratic and just society. Not just for Scotland, but for us all.

  • Kate Higgins has at various points been a legal trainee, an elected member, a waitress, a policy wonk, a political activist, a shop assistant, a marcher for many causes, a comms manager, a parliamentary candidate but most importantly of all, a parent. She blogs and comments at A Burdz Eye View.

iainscott.jpgWill independence unleash the spirit of enterprise?

By Iain Scott, entrepreneur and creator of 1001 Enterprising Scots

No business ever started with a plan – it started with a conversation. And that conversation always includes the questions, ‘could I?’ and ‘but what if?’ However that conversation will never lead to anything unless there is self respect. As the late Margo MacDonald memorably observed, ‘It all starts with self respect, then after that comes self confidence, and with self confidence comes the ability to do marvellous things.’

For me as an entrepreneur and someone who has worked for over twenty years helping people and communities unlock their enterprise potential, this issue of enterprise and independence is inextricably linked with self respect and self confidence.

Entrepreneurship is not some standalone strand of public policy – though it has been seen to be until now (I welcome the Scottish government’s recent approach to enterprise and innovation). Enterprise, entrepreneurs and businesses are part of culture and society and in particular the kind of culture and society we want to have in Scotland in the future.

This is an ongoing debate that you will find if you visit Barcelona or Estonia or Lithuania – or indeed most European countries where identity and enterprise are intertwined. It is only the UK that has embraced the separation of enterprise and business from society with catastrophic results.

A bit of background to my approach. I sat my finals the day Margaret Thatcher came to power. I was also part of a generation that chose to stay in Scotland rather than move to London. I saw the transformation of Glasgow from industrial decline to the vibrant place it is now. I also shifted from being part of the establishment (a teacher) to being an outsider (an entrepreneur who started a specialised food business) before starting another venture working on how people learn to be enterprising.

I’ve seen Scotland move from communities and individuals being a part of a grand plan designed by powerful secretaries of state for Scotland and the powerful institutions they created to ‘generate prosperity’, to one where in the last seven years we have moved, cautiously, to people doing things for themselves and their community as opposed to having them done for them.

That is the strand that I would like to flourish if

Scotland becomes independent – helping people make things happen.

Moving from a planning-led approach to a responsive supportive one.

There are still bastions of benevolent despotism and less benevolent despotism in place but it creates an opportunity for entrepreneurs of all kinds to challenge the status quo, to see things differently and to make the world a better place. As Ernesto Sirolli might put it: to move from a strategic society to a responsive one, one that can only be achieved by ditching the emphasis on target-driven policy and outcomes to one which creates the conditions for entrepreneurship of all kinds to flourish.

Achieving that will be tough. Not for nothing did Pavlov achieve such fame for his dogs. Public policy has been obsessed with targets and outcomes since the Blair / Brown axis and it’s killed innovation and creativity.

So this question about a vision for entrepreneurship, enterprise and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Scotland is actually part of a bigger picture and question, namely what kind of society and culture does Scotland want to be and have?

For me the answer lies in the holy trinity – people, place, prosperity. It was always a mystery for Margaret Thatcher that many top Scottish entrepreneurs were not Tories. But then so many things about Scotland were indeed a mystery for the Iron Lady and that has continued in Whitehall and Westminster.

Scotland needs entrepreneurs and Scotland likes entrepreneurs, particularly if they are in the philanthropic tradition of Andrew Carnegie. I could mention the big names but would rather focus on the less well-known hundreds of entrepreneurs and business people who give their time to get involved in community projects that make their place better.

That is the strand that I would like to flourish if Scotland becomes independent – helping people make things happen. Move from a planning-led approach to a responsive supportive one.

Move Business Gateway into community projects. Don’t equate community with social enterprise, embrace a wider opportunity and dimension. Entrepreneurs come from all places so help make the journey easier. Understand the dynamics of place and space and the role they play in creating enterprise. Mix low level think tanks with the high level ones. Build confidence and respect. Have fun.

People. Place. Prosperity. It’s the holy trinity for a prosperous nation.

jimmccormickTilting the compass to end poverty

By Jim McCormick, Scotland advisor to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation

The social policy case for independence has gradually become more prominent as we approach the referendum. Levels of poverty and inequality in the UK are compared unfavourably with Nordic and other European neighbours.

The case for ‘transformational childcare’ has been made mostly on the grounds of higher employment rates for parents. And an alternative plan for social security has been prepared by an independent expert group, should Scotland vote Yes in September.

It adds up to a rare opportunity to reflect on the principles that might underpin a fresh assault on poverty. How would an independent Scotland – or a country with substantially more powers – approach that challenge?

First, it will need an accurate picture of the forces creating poverty today. Too often, we default to an image of workless, dispossessed families in run-down housing estates. In fact, the Scottish index of multiple deprivation (SIMD) shows about one in three poor children live in the poorest places. The majority don’t. Six in ten parents living in poverty are in a household where someone works. And conventional measures of poverty tend to conceal the patterns of insecurity – at work, in housing, in health – which affect many more Scots.

Second, to end poverty as we know it, new measures will help, not just new powers. The accepted measure refers to an income line (before or after housing costs) related to the median. If you have less than 60% of this level, you are in poverty. It’s arbitrary, but has the merit of allowing comparisons between OECD countries and measuring change over time. But it doesn’t tell us much about adequacy unlike, for example, the minimum income standard which is based on what the public considers is the cost of a modest but adequate household budget. It can be varied to reflect local context – such as higher costs in remote rural areas of Scotland.

Complementary measures of the depth of poverty – how far below the line you fall – and its duration would give us a more accurate picture. There is a big difference between a brief spell in poverty in the gap between losing and finding a job, and spending years of childhood in poverty. Reaching the 10% child poverty target would be only a partial victory if there are still families facing destitution due to significant benefit delays or sanctions.

Scotland won’t be able to get off the pathway of rising child

poverty unless it gains new powers over social security.

Third, Scotland needs to address the root causes of the drivers towards poverty. In some ways, Scotland has fared relatively better than the UK as a whole in the last decade. Referendum briefing papers prepared for JRF by the New Policy Institute on child poverty, housing and work show that poverty fell faster in Scotland over this period, dropping below the UK rate due in part to lower housing costs and faster improvement in employment levels and ‘work intensity’ in households.

However, the negative impact of very low benefit uprating and welfare reforms so far, combined with growing insecurity at work, result in the forecast of a sharp rise in child poverty by the Institute for Fiscal Studies. That’s fully in line with the projection for Britain as a whole. Unless a more flexible, generous version of Universal Credit emerges, for example on childcare and disability costs, Scotland won’t be able to get off this pathway unless it gains new powers over social security.

Fourth, if and when this happens, fresh priorities will need to be set. The Scottish government’s white paper on independence indicates some of the SNP’s likely policies in 2016. As well as embarking on a major expansion of childcare, it proposes to raise the minimum wage, tax credits and benefits in line with inflation. These are valuable, anti-poverty steps.

But so is increasing the supply of affordable housing much faster than governments have done through devolution so far. That could re-direct many families stuck in private rented housing facing spiralling rents. So is closing the attainment gap in Scottish schools – a devolved issue which has been painfully slow to improve or to attract prominence. And would Scotland have more of an appetite for reforming local taxation if it became independent when, with the powers available already, it has preferred to stick with freezing the council tax for the best part of a decade?

JRF has challenged governments of all stripes across the UK to base their anti-poverty strategies on stronger evidence. Looking ahead to 2016, JRF will publish an independent anti-poverty strategy for Scotland either as a newly independent country or as part of the UK. But this won’t just be for government: anti-poverty employers, housing providers and public services will also need to emerge as new compass points on the map of Scotland.

neil strelka photo 2England will never be the same again

By Neil McInroy, chief executive of the Centre for Local Economic Strategies

The rise of devolution and a call for Scottish independence is fuelled by many things, but at its core is a Westminster which appears remote to the issues which concern many, and turgid in response to them. In these matters many in the rest of the UK share Scotland’s pain.

From the challenges of climate change, welfare, health, poverty and addressing regional economic imbalances, Westminster seems weak and ineffective. As such the UK is ill at ease with itself, with longstanding and growing divisions. The UK is a land of haves and have-nots. Perhaps the United Kingdom, represented by Westminster politics, is already broken.

The notion of a UK nation was forged through years of shared experiences, and great institutions such as the welfare state. Centuries of co-existence, trust and mutual gain through Westminster politics has seeped away. This is not confined to Scottish nationalists or to those in the Yes campaign. From staunch unionists to rural conservatives in leafy English shires, there are many who are ’fed up with that lot in Westminster’.

This issues which Westminster are perceived as failing to tackle are the meat and drink of the independence debate in Scotland. However, there is little outlet in England for these issues to be debated. What kind of future do we want the English nation to have? How do we get a better type of politics, which better reflect what we want? How do we tackle some of the abiding social issues? How do we break with the concentration of power and resources, which serves many badly?

The fact that there is a rise of independence reflects the sorry state of Westminster. Scotland already has significant devolution and there are promises, from all non-independence parties of more to come (Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrats).

Whatever the referendum result, Scotland, the UK and England

will never be the same again. There will be no going back.

The question is only about scale of change, not whether change will happen.

However a swathe of Scottish people still think this is not enough. For some, when Westminster politicians, civil servants or commentators shout warnings of how independence will bring dire economic consequences, it is seen by some as just another round of longstanding Westminster spin. Equally, a new set of promises of better days fall on disbelieving ears, which are fed up with false dawns.

Whatever the referendum result, Scotland, the UK and England will never be the same again. There will be no going back. The question is only about scale of change, not whether change will happen. The choice is independence or more devolution, (which I do not think can be suppressed). The change genie is out of the bottle. For Scotland, the link with Westminster and England will diminish.

Compared to a centralised England, Scotland is fortunate to have devolution and now fortunate to have this deeper independence debate, casting a glaring light on the problems of Westminster. However, England remains under the grip of Whitehall and a Westminster media bubble which nourishes it. In England the narrative of austerity is seen by many as accepted wisdom. The renaissance to parts of post industrial England remains fledgling. The difference between the haves and the have-nots is entrenched and accepted by some. Aged debates over London and north and south remain, despite inequality knowing no compass points.

That is why, yes or no, England must seize the opportunity. England needs its own fundamental debate about itself and the role of Westminster. The opportunity remains for England to think again about how it is governed. In this we must consider questions of a federal England. England needs to look at a meaningful fiscal decentralisation for its major cities. England needs to think about a fundamental constitutional settlement between central and local government ensuring reform cannot be changed by a tinkering Whitehall. Central and local government must work as co-directors of the nation. We need to accept that the present economic model has a longstanding and entrenched trajectory which is unlikely to deliver spatially or socially.

Westminster as a positive force has burned many of its bridges. In Scotland, either through devolution or independence, there is hope and a realistic expectation that things can change for the better. England needs the same.

  •  Neil McInroy is a Scot living in England and is chief executive of the Centre for Local Economic Strategies (Cles)


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imelda havers
imelda havers
9 years ago

Good piece, and point well made about implications for England. The English regions have been overlooked for too long: Westminster is still in denial and while this continues the momentum for fragmentation of UK is likely to gather pace. A view from Yorkshire is set out in this blog:

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