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 People & Parliament Part 2 - Vision


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 People & Parliament


Part 2 of the Full Report - Vision



2. Question 2 - “By the year 2020 we would like to see a Scotland in which...”


Responses here are analysed according to the same pattern as for question 1 above. The difference is that whereas the above mainly represents peoples’ view of how things are now, the following reflects their “wish list” aspirations for the future.


2.1 Sense of Environment and Place


In the future Scotland “the impact on the environment is taken into account in all decision making, particularly in the development of sustainable transportation systems in Scotland, the impact of genetic engineering, resource use and waste minimisation,” say Aberdeen’s  Friends of the Earth group. Another environmental group suggested that “priority is given to sustainable organic farming methods,” that “the release of genetically engineered organisms into the environment is banned,” and “remaining nuclear waste at Dounreay is dry-stored above ground.” Other groups widely agreed with this range of views. “The environment is acknowledged as paramount in sustainable development,” said the Morayshire branch of the Scottish Landowners’ Federation.


“No more building on the green belt,” said an Edinburgh woman’s guild, and a chorus of voices called for such advances as “salmon and local sea trout in the river Clyde,” “more trees,” “the right to roam enshrined in statute,” “no worries about the ozone layer,” “large retailing complexes cease to be developed,” “natural, clean sources of energy are harnessed,” and “better and appropriate uses” are found “for our natural resources such as ... whisky.”


A pronounced number of groups opposed nuclear weapons and nuclear waste. No groups spoke in favour of these things. Scotland should become “drug free and nuclear free” said some adults with learning difficulties.


People should “care for their environment because they feel it is their own,” said biological scientists in Edinburgh. This means that in 2020 “The power of landowners is reduced.”


There were a number of calls for land reform. The Scottish Tree Trust, summed these up in urging a Scotland “which has its land ownership in the hands of those who use its resources humanely and not cruelly and selfishly for ‘sport.’” They believe that:


Financial help should be given to non-New Age groups to set up a huge system of self-sufficient and financially viable communities that would act as restorers of our land through proper native re-forestation; humane livestock rearing; non-environmentally and wildlife destructive fish-farming; wood skills and permacultural food growing being practised to provide local food supplies.


The basic principle, said a retired woman teacher in Speyside, is that “The produce of the land would belong to the steward who worked it, so no nonsense about trees planted by a farmer for whatever reason not belonging to him.” Two Church of Scotland rural congregations urged particular “support for traditional crofters and farmers,” while crofting and land reform activists meeting in Wester Ross looked towards a Scotland in which, like Stornoway, Assynt and Eigg:


Land belongs to communities, the people being tenants unto their own democratically accountable control.


“Sustainable communities” were therefore seen as central to achieving “sustainable development.” Thus, a rural group in Fife foresaw “Good, cheap, safe and accessible public transport, sustainable communities including local jobs and rural workshops, redistribution of wealth and more rented housing, especially in rural areas.” Even highly urbanised groups such as low-income Glasgow groups expressed such hopes as to see a time when, “Land is developed and used by the people who live here,” and, “There is a safe environment for our children and for their future.”


2.2 Sense of Community and Belonging


Apart from the individual who remarked that by the year 2020 “I will not be here,” there was widespread aspiration that the future would be marked by a regenerated sense of community. Edinburgh’s Centre for Human Ecology looked towards an era where:

... there is a mind shift and people start to express this sense of identity and create communities in richly diverse bio-regions which achieve their potential and thrive within their ecological carrying capacity.


Others called for the “protection of small communities,” “growth of ‘Community Action Groups,’” a Scotland that will “move forward in the next century keeping our traditions and customs alive,” a “greater development of the ‘Scottish’ identity to harness the self-esteem of the people,” safety on the streets and in the home, “more community spirit [and] community police,” the protection of schools and post-offices, reversal of the closure of community centres and development policies whereby “Town centres can once again be a centre for the community with a real sense of identity.”


Such community should be capable of “supporting people at times in their lives when they need support,” said a Kirkcaldy women’s group. It should nurture the fundamental human need to belong and be cared for “from the cradle to the grave.” Thus, in 2020 “the generation coming behind us has something to look forward to in their old age,” said old age pensioners in Aberdeen. But the biggest emphasis was on changing the climate in which children grow up. Somebody from Aberdeen urged that:


Children are nurtured, their talents developed, where they live and are brought up in quiet loving homes ... where violence and aggression are a thing of the past, and where income is channelled into their development instead of into the local pub.


Similarly, a Strathclyde University group looked towards:


... a Scotland in which children are celebrated, not ignored, in which children are accorded respect and status as they deserve as our next generation. We would like to see a Scotland in which the full-time carers of children (usually mothers) are accorded the same recognition for the work they do as those in full-time paid employment.


An individual from a Moray community council linked a rich human culture back into authentic relationship with the nature of place. For him, the future Scotland would ideally be a community:


... in which the song of the curlew counts for more than the clink of cash: in which future David Humes, James Watts and Robert Millers may freely develop their talents at home: in which Wallace, Burns, Kier Hardie and John MacLean would be happy to live and cask-conditioned Scotch Ale in evry pub.



2.3 Sense of Identity (including Ethnic Minorities)


2.3.1 Ethnic Scots and English People


Many groups expressed the hope that antipathy towards English people would be overcome once devolution and/or independence allowed Scots to feel fully responsible for their own affairs. An inner-city Edinburgh community centre looked towards a situation where Scotland might even be:


Cheering for England in future world cup games.


A group of young male social science students in Aberdeen hoped to see that:


The divisions have been bridged as far as possible, the chip on the shoulder no longer hinders ambition and self-achievement, our identity is secure without being turned against others, England especially.


2.3.2 Indigenous Ethnic Groups


“You can’t become one, you have to be born one,” said the Gypsies or Romanies. Their aspiration from the Parliament was to “Give us back our freedom [to travel]. Let our nation live.”


Surprisingly, there were no calls for Scots indigenous language development except where Gaelic was concerned. Interestingly given the Gaelic cultural tradition of fostership and their renowned good race relations with the Pakistani community in the Hebrides, many of the Gaelic community’s statements made links with the needs of other ethnic minorities. For example, a university Gaelic society looked towards a time where:


The bilingualism of the nation is recognised where ALL linguistic minorities are accepted. We would also like to see official status for Gaelic on the model of the 1993 Welsh Language Act alongside a national policy for Gaelic education. The bilingualism of Scotland should also be increasingly observed outwardly through bilingual signage and such like.


Gaelic broadcasters and other language professionals in Stornoway considered that linguistic confidence is inseparable from other dimensions of socio-economic sure-footedness. They therefore looked to an era where:


Gaelic has a prominent profile within the plurality of the Scottish nation [sharing] in the national self-confidence that has evolved as a result of devolution. Peripheral areas must have access to the same economic and social opportunities ... including adequate provision of transportation at reasonable cost.


Aomann an Luchd Ionnsachaidh, a group of Gaelic learners based near Inverness, looked towards a Scotland in which:


Gaelic has a national, public profile contributing to Scottish and international plurality and tolerance; and in which there is a right for all throughout Scotland to Gaelic education.


2.3.3 Non-Indigenous Ethnic Groups


One north-east Scottish group, who were distinctly not typical of other groups - Christian or otherwise - urged the “immediate deportation of all [immigrants] who commit crimes” and “Christian norms to be accepted by all immigrants.” They also urged the death penalty for abortionists, homosexuals, vandals, etc.. However, the overwhelming majority of others looked towards a racially tolerant and racially educated Scotland. For example, Glasgow students positively affirmed the importance of an ethnically inclusive sense of Scottish national identity by saying:


We would like to see a Scotland in which refugees and asylum-seekers are welcomed, not treated like common criminals as is presently the case. We would like to see a Scotland which welcomes immigrants, as a means of encouraging multi-ethnicity and diversity, as a way of importing talent to make up for the talent which emigrates.


A Dumbartonshire ethnic minority forum recognised that integration means sharing rather than merging:


The awareness, the harmony and the information between the groups and minorities are in good stead, along with the Natives in Scotland, so that we can feel proud to be Scottish... Integration may not and should not mean merging and [being] engulfed by the majority group, [but] it means that we are on an equal footing in all respects.


Such a position raises the question of whether it might be meaningful to speak not of being “half Asian and half Scots,” but, for example, “wholly Asian and wholly Scots.” “Scotland,” said a black community development project in Edinburgh, should “embrace different cultures and recognise their importance as much as their Scottish culture is recognised.” There needs to be, said a Glasgow ethnic group, “vigorous campaigns to eradicate racial harassment among young people because they are the future of Scotland.”


Many religious groups put in pleas for their special interests and needs to be catered for. Several Catholic groups, for example, called for abortion to be outlawed and state-funded Catholic schools to be maintained. Jewish teachers asked that their needs “would continue to be met, allowing them paid or unpaid leave when necessary in order to observe the Jewish laws of not working on holy days.” And a Scottish Muslim women’s group looked towards a Scotland:


…[in which] Muslim women were catered for in education for our children, funded by the state. The freedom to go to sports centres to participate in activities which were women-only. The right to become active in politics and not be excluded because of our Muslim dress. The right to legislation to protect our beliefs. To make incitement to religious hate an offence for all faiths.


2.4 Values and Characteristics


Most of the values expressed here were reiterations of those already discussed in section 1.4. These were well summarised by an anonymous group of eight from Glasgow who wrote:


No high-rise flats; full employment; no pollution; no child or animal abuse; peace and justice with fair employment and rewards; high standards of education for all children; people and children can play [in] safety; elderly to have free telephones and TV licences; higher state pensions and a quality of life where everyone has someone to love, something to do and something to look forward to.


The new Scotland should be “A Scotland which cares for and serves all its people, looking to the future with confidence and fostering diversity and ecumenism,” surmised a group at Edinburgh University Settlement. There should be “no poverty, discrimination, homelessness and no Trident” said an Iona Community group, with “green policies as a norm in action” and “humanitarian treatment of animals,” said members of the Findhorn Community. Many groups advocated, like a social and pastoral ministry group in Glasgow, a “return to traditional family values without necessarily turning the clock back.” Many hoped to see a deeper spirituality but greater religious toleration, like a Glasgow interfaith group hoping that “All religions are fully recognised and given equal status within the body politic.” A Glasgow order of enclosed religious sisters brought many viewpoints together in praying for a Scotland:


... in which the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Rights in all its 30 Articles is agreed to and adhered to; a Scotland which has addressed positively the issues of homelessness, unemployment, drugs, land reform, prison overcrowding, protection of human life at all its stages, respect for every individual, for human rights; a Scotland which is open to other nations and ethnic groups, refugees.


Young men at a Glasgow independent school urged that “Scottish culture should be upheld, because in recent years, the English seem to have taken some of the traditions away,” but they emphasised that they wanted to “still remain linked with England.” Another group from the same school echoed several less-articulate groups in suggesting that national values are linked to sport. Thus:


Football should be reintroduced to schools to improve the standards of the game and bring pride when club and the nation of Scotland do well.


Another group called for:


A future in which we have found new ways of being a man in Scotland; where boys can grow up with sensitivity and creativity rather than role models that promote destructive male values.


A group of east of Scotland Quakers, for example, wanted to see Scottish values balanced by the spiritual and the feminine:


[We want to see] respect for other people, including the integration of feminine values [and] an open discussion of spiritual value [where] we are able to celebrate our culture alongside all the cultures of the world, and our children are deeply valued.


2.5 Public Sector


The massive volume of quality responses analysed in this category reflect both the extent to which people felt that public services are the main business of Parliament, the extent to which they see public service provision within community to one another as the mainstay of social cohesion (including economy) and a probable element of bias insofar as the profile of groups responding to People and Parliament contains an above average proportion of those whose lives revolve around the use of public services, such as hospital patients, disabled people and those involved with education. Whilst our data is not sufficiently quantitative to allow disaggregation of the latter factor, we observe, however, that similar points were being made from all sectors of society and so the effects of sample bias are probably not as distorting as might otherwise be suspected.


2.5.1 Education (including the Arts and Research)


A huge number of groups emphasised their future hopes for Scottish education. “Accessible and affordable education throughout life” repeated itself, “especially for poorer students.” The old Scots experience that education is the main answer to bettering the quality of life is clearly etched on the psyche across all strata of society, with a strong sense that a true Scots education contributes to the economy, but is not the servant of such a master. Thus, a group of Edinburgh grassroots theologians hoped to see a time when:


... the education system challenges the prevailing money culture by valuing people through giving them opportunities for critical questions and reflection. This will allow them to develop their own set of purposeful and meaningful values and to contribute to the wellbeing of Scottish society.


Consistent with the ideas of Paulo Freire whose thought has received wide exposure in Scottish popular education since the early 1970’s, many groups linked such “conscientisation” based education (a combination of conscience and consciousness) to human potential. Thus a Bahai group wanted a state where:


Education is designed to help individuals realise and develop their own potential... Women in particular realise their own potential and value within society.


Similarly, two retired Aberdeen lady teachers said:


Our education system provides opportunities for all to develop individual potential, ensure full employment and recognise the value of participation in recreational activities.


Some respondents stressed particularly Scottish dimensions of education manifestly rooted in the generalist “democratic intellect” of such luminaries as George Elder Davie. Thus a group of Kilmarnock professional people said:


Some of the best traditions of Scottish education should be maintained and developed, notably the multi-disciplinary Ordinary Degree. There should be more Scottish content in the curriculum at all stages [and] cultural activity should be properly funded.


Renewed emphasis should therefore be placed upon the arts in education. Such cultural literacy was seen by several groups as being essential to nourish the taproots of national wellbeing. An Edinburgh group of people with learning difficulties called for “support for the arts reaching right down into local communities.” A group of mainly fishing industry workers from Aberdeenshire hoped for “Scottish art to be taken out of the cellar in the National Gallery and prominently displayed.” University students and chaplaincy staff said:


We would like to see a Scotland in which the importance of the arts is recognised and properly supported. By 2020 there should be proper financial arrangements in place to support young artists, whether in the performing arts, in music, in literature and the visual arts. This is crucial in the development of the kind of cultural self-confidence which our people need, and it cannot be assumed that our new-found political status as a nation will lead to a growth of our cultural self-expression.


As well as building cultural “capital,” education should contribute towards “a broad economy based on a diversity of skills,” thereby creating a society based on sufficiency of material resources where those in need are cared for. Thus, a group of Glasgow Catholic secondary school girls said, “We would like living standards to be improved. Society is changing at a fast rate and we feel education should go at the same pace.” Several groups indicated that such uses of Scotland’s wealth were not, however to be construed as a lay-about’s charter. A Strathspey residents’ group surmised:


We want money to be ring-fenced to fund important issues like health and education, and we want a work culture and not a dependency culture to be promoted.


On schools, there was divergence in thought about the desirability of minority schools. As we have seen earlier, minority religious groups often felt strongly about the retention of separate schooling. Various other groups wanted what was called “inclusive education” with “all children involved in mainstream schools.” A group of Glasgow youth called for “more janitors and better school security.” A group describing itself as working-class Glasgow women hoped for “less emphasis on competition within the NHS and between schools.” Unemployed women in Kirkcaldy called for “increased access to locally based learning opportunities ... with smaller class sizes and more motivated and forward thinking teachers.”


Several groups called for better pre-school provision, a group of elderly women in Kirkcaldy hoping to see that:


There will be a real choice available in childcare and support for parents who wish to care full-time for children up to 5.


Some support was expressed for Scottish science to be funded. One person supported a Scottish space-travel programme. A Dundee group said, “Scottish research in ground-based astronomy, for example, should be maintained at its level of second-to-none.” Unemployed women in Fife said:


[We hope for] more resources to further health research and therefore increase the real possibility of finding cures for cancer, HIV and other long-term illnesses.


2.5.2 Health


Much anger was expressed at the current state of the NHS so many aspirations were placed upon amelioration. A justice & peace group said:


[We] wish to witness ... the re-emergence of a health service affordable to all and non-dependent on charitable activities for the purchase of vital equipment.


As with the funding of other dimensions of public service, several groups affirmed willingness to pay for adequate services. A Kilmarnock group said:


We would like to see a return to the principle of a Health Services which is free at the point of need - including the services of dentists and opticians... We are willing to pay more taxes provided the revenue is properly used and the agenda is based on [social justice and Scottish cultural] priorities.


Many people deplored recent trends leading to the depersonalisation of health provision. An older women’s group in Fife said:


We expect a better use of resources in the health service, a less top-heavy management and greater value given to human resources - face-to-face access to doctors and nurses - on a local basis and a choice of race and gender in each area.


A number of groups revealed an holistic understanding of how health links in with other problems. For example, there were many references to drugs and the need for “a national strategy to tackle alcohol misuse.” Some called for supply-end solutions to drug addiction such as harsh punitive action against pushers. Others wanted to see the user-end being tackled. Interestingly, nicotine was hardly mentioned. A group of young adults in Glasgow displayed a holistic perspective in saying:


We would like to see more attention given to sports, for example, new leisure centres, which would bring a lot of the youths off the street, bring communities together [and alleviate] the drug problem.


Some church groups, mainly Catholic, called for “respect for human life - abortion reform and abolition; ban euthanasia.” Others spoke of “NOT ‘officiously keeping alive,’” “bonuses after tubal-tie [vasectomy]” and from women students at a college in Edinburgh the imperative to “Keep the PILL FREE” along with “tax-free tampons.”


2.5.3 Housing & Transport and Utilities


“No more privatisation” echoed through a number of responses. Large numbers of respondents expected to see “homelessness abolished” and housing standards raised.  Planning should encourage the “building of mixed communities (i.e. different tenures)” where:


Each and every individual should feel secure in their home and have the ability and right to eat, drink and make merry.


Young and old women in Edinburgh’s Craigmillar housing scheme linked housing back into wider considerations of “environment,” saying:


We would like a better environment in this community and permanent housing, semis with their own gardens that do not need patching up.


Similarly, a local authority tenant’s group said:


The dire social standards and housing in estates like Logie in Aberdeen are finally removed [and] social stability is established.


“There should be wheelchair access for all new buildings,” said disabled people at an Edinburgh day care centre, adding that “traffic lights should give people more time to cross roads.”


The need for better public transport featured strongly in many responses; indeed, there were no calls for the strengthening of private transport provisions. “Less cars, more bicycles and provision for bicycles” was strongly expressed by young people. Older people and disabled people looked towards “more underground stations, more buses, fewer cars.” Others called for “investment in our rail network” and for “The British Rail link to the Borders and beyond [to receive] urgent consideration.” An ecumenical church group struck many resonances where it hoped for a 2020 where:


There is an integrated transport system with reduced atmospheric pollution providing services throughout the country, especially rural and island communities.


Many of the low-income groups called for “the complete abolition of the standard charges on electricity, telephones, gas, etc..” No support was expressed for the privatised status of these utilities; on the contrary, community trust directors in Perthshire wanted a Parliament that:


Ensures that essential services such as health, police, water, sewerage, electricity and gas are controlled by directly elected and accountable local councils.



2.5.4 Law & Order and Defence


There was one call for the death penalty to be restored and some calls to be “hard on crime, law & order and benefit fraud.” A completely anonymous respondent spoke of a future that:


Puts law and order to the very top of the priority list. Without law and order there is nothing. Make prisons a punishment - no soft options. Make all drugs illegal... People who work hard are sickened by benefit scroungers.


However, most of the comments on law and order were in favour of a more humane penal service and a visibly present community-based police force to keep the streets safe. There should be a better and more humane justice and treatment system for abusers. There should be “no guns, weapons and knives. These have been banned.” One group encouraged police to employ “more creative and inventive methods of catching criminals.” Some groups voiced concern about police corruption. Otherwise, the police seemed to enjoy an underlying groundswell of support. The main complaint was that we don’t see enough of them. Accordingly, there should be “more awareness and more support from communities” for the “bobby on the beat” along with:


... more therapeutic criminal justice system, more open prisons, alternatives to prison, more police on the street, fines for destroying environment, better house protection, alarms, etc., more police recognition of abusive neighbours and anti-social behaviour, less smoking and drinking in public.


This comment came from a group of people with learning difficulties - a segment of the population who clearly felt strongly about the need for a protective police force. Another such group affirmed that:


We would like better policing of visible crime, like neighbourhood nuisances, drinking in public, loud thuggish behaviour.


Local control over police with local knowledge was felt to be important by some groups. Thus a Highland Perthshire crime prevention panel hope to see a future where:


Police must be stationed in their own areas and keep a close liaison with the residents, with the police being encouraged to buy their houses and stay in the area for longer terms.


There were very few comments about defence except that many groups looked towards a future where:


All nuclear weapons are a fading memory.


Retired members of the trades union, UNISON, in Tayside looked towards a “reduction in military hardware and defence forces.” A group from the Borders put in a plea for subsidiarity, saying:


We would still like to have local army regiments represented, and no further expansion of the areas under the control of police, fire, water, etc..


2.6 Private Sector


Changes during the 1980’s of the boundary between what constitutes private and public sector activities have made the placement of certain statements into this and the previous category somewhat arbitrary. In general terms, however, a reasonably coherent vision for Scotland’s future emerges from the People & Parliament responses. These were encapsulated by an Edinburgh group of retired professional women who foresaw a 2020 where:


Legislation has been enacted to ensure our use of renewable resources - wind, water, sun - with a requirement on all developers to comply, thus lowering costs. Water remains in the public domain. We are suspicious of PFI schemes. Start-up capital is available to ‘small’ people to generate ‘small’ businesses, including recycling. The big boys’ inward investment has not been a howling success.


Several groups wanted to see “businesses given incentives to stay in Scotland and penalised if they move.” Many expressed the hope that “Scotland will build up manufacturing industries again” whilst “protecting the environment while promoting investment and industry,” ensuring that “people have job security and job satisfaction,” sponsoring home-grown “centres of research and development,” and while there should be “less dependency on service industries” there was a recognition of the importance of tourism and the value of seeing that “the ‘shortbread’ image of Scotland is used to our advantage abroad.” Community trust directors hoped to see a situation where, “Highly qualified and experienced people are encouraged by salary and constructive roles to stay in Scotland.” Others emphasised the need for “minimum wages and a raised respect for ‘menial jobs.’” Industry, according to a family group in the west of Scotland, should return to “proper apprenticeships to provide skilled labourers.”


Various groups expressed concerns about sovereignty and industry. School students in Newlands called for “More head offices [to be] located in Scotland as opposed to branches.” Home grown businesses should be encouraged by government support; not foreign businesses, said another school group, because “foreign companies leave in search of greater profit.” Oil industry money should be prevented from “all going down South” and the Government should have “more control over the press.” There should be a “fairer commercial rating system” and in general, said a family group:


We would like to see a fairer society where the rights and conditions of employees are respected, e.g. limiting temporary contracts and profit sharing with the entire workforce.


The Glasgow Mosque and Islamic Centre saw growing opportunities for international trade, saying:


We want to establish business and trade links, cultural exchanges and educational interests with Pakistan to bring economic and educational benefits for Scotland and Pakistan.


2.7 Social Exclusion


The elimination of social exclusion represented the biggest single aspiration of the Scottish people as reflected in the People & Parliament process. Groups wanted to see a Scotland where “poverty and poor people no longer exist”; characterised by:


The eradication of poverty - physical, spiritual, emotional.


A women’s group at a Glasgow ecumenical institute said:


[Everything is] important but [only] if poverty is challenged. It’s a reflection on our society how we treat our ‘poor’.


The staff and management of a Glasgow housing association looked towards a Scotland in which:


All people within our communities are valued as equal citizens, regardless of ability, and where equal access to all aspects of life in our communities is an agreed priority for public policy.


Thus, parents of deaf children saw it as imperative that:


The stronger accept it as their inheritance to assist those who through no fault of their own need occasional or even permanent support. If this needs a reallocation of resources then our Parliament should be willing.


It was not just the ‘poor’ who wanted a “more redistributive tax system” and reduction of the rich-poor divide. Well-to-do groups seemed equally willing to pay for justice. For example, a group of ethnic Indian Scots describing themselves as  “some rich, some poor” said:


We would like to see Scotland as a caring society, which may involve lowering the standard of living of all people for the benefit of the needy and those who are deprived.


Indeed, Scotland should be “the best and most caring for ALL people.” Old people should be able to “afford to heat their houses in winter” and have “a dignified old age.” It should be a Scotland in which “people with learning disabilities are treated as human beings,” with “no more ‘tale of two cities.’” Addressing “spatial concentration” of housing is a priority and policy should “help people to escape from the rent trap.” An Edinburgh group wanted:


A fair society that doesn’t depend on your postcode. Not being ashamed of your address - no stigma attached to living in Pilton. Improved life expectancy for people who live in what, at the moment, are called ‘deprived areas.’


Those suffering from exclusion aspired, most fundamentally, towards having dignity and being respected as fully human. A Dundee Christian group wants:


... to see a Scotland in which none of its citizens are disenfranchised, no-one sleeping rough or dependent on charities for food and clothing.


Service users resented a sense of being treated like a commodity.  Residents at one residental care centre wanted a Scotland where:


People with learning difficulties are treated as human beings, [with] proper funding made available for care in the community. More consultation on needs at grass root level [and] less like a cattle market [with] people going to the highest bidder [for care service provision].


Emphasising their wish for respect, another such group wished that:


People with learning difficulties are treated with more respect. Many of us have been the victim of bullying and name-calling on the streets. Very young children need to be taught how hurtful this is so they won’t do it when they are older.


A group of mental health service user activists wanted a Scotland where:


There is a Mental Health Commission with stronger powers and greater independence from the medical establishment. There is no stigma attached to mental illness... There are adequate safeguards for vulnerable people and an end to abuse. There is a greater range of treatments and strategies available for responding to mental illness, and a greater choice for mental health service users. There is a greater openness to debate among mental health professionals and across a wider society. Mental health legislation geared better to individual circumstances and to maintaining independence and dignity.


A deaf children’s society group reflected themes of empowerment, choice and optimisation of human potential:


A campaign to encourage teachers to become teachers of the deaf as there is a great shortage in Scotland. Every deaf child to have access to all new technology from computers to hearing aids, requiring liaison between health education and social work. Adequate funding for deaf children in mainstream education - this provision not to be seen as a cheap option.


The New Scotland should be one where, as several groups of both indigenous and ethnic Scots said, “there is fair and compassionate treatment of refugees and asylum-seekers.” Jewish teachers urged that “racist attacks are recognised as such and shown to be intolerable to the judicial system.” Glasgow schoolgirls wanted the future to be one where “All people of all age groups and backgrounds can enjoy our country.”


The sexual exploitation of young people should become “as rare as it was once believed to be.” A Glasgow woman’s group said there should be “better public services for Asian women, for whom Zero Tolerance has not worked.” An interchurch women’s group looked to a Scotland:


Where violence against women, and abuse of power to control or limit others’ lives, is socially and legally unacceptable.


While Scots were strong on compassion, there was plenty evidence of impatience with those who work the system. Only one group went as far as to suggest that “if you don’t work then you don’t eat,” but a broad consensus would probably gather around the views of staff at an enterprise trust in the north-east, who said:


We would like to reduce the inequality of lifestyle of the Scottish population in cities. We would like to break the cycle of poverty in generations of families who ‘don’t work.’


Such a position reflected a widespread understanding that social exclusion usually has causes which society must help to eradicate. It would seem that the success or failure of the new Parliament will be judged on this dimension perhaps more than any other.


2.8 Political Process


Political process is the subject of question 3, but it was apparent from responses to question 2 that many people wanted to state their aspirations here as well. The main theme expressed was that people wanted to see a Parliament based on different values than Westminster - “people power.” Thus a Glasgow group of community police officers and others hoped that:


Parliament will engender a spirit which will be encouraging to those who in the past, have considered Whitehall somewhat remote, and will therefore feel that a Scottish Parliament is, which it is, looking after the jobs, the health, the education, the housing etc. of Scotland.


Whilst warning of “rascalism in the council,” several groups hoped to see power devolved from the centre to the periphery. A housing group correspondingly hoped to look back on:


... a drastic reversal in the trend towards dictatorial government control [of local authorities] and a firm commitment to a healthy democratic local control by locally elected representatives with adequate powers and financial resources.


A Fife group hoped for:


... meaningful consultation and debate rather than meaningless and exclusive forms and rituals. Shows a willingness to listen and involve people by travelling to different parts of the country. Honest and open [and] a building which is as accessible as possible.


Other points included the hope that we “get away from the ‘blame’ culture that is so obvious at Westminster,”  “the churches are actively involved in social justice and politics (but not party politics),” that “the English Aristocracy play a less dominant role in Scottish affairs,” that we are “not paying a TARTAN TAX [for] jobs for the boys,” that we “abandon the extremes of Thatcherism and nationalisation,” that “there is a Freedom of Information bill,” that “we do not want to be controlled by quangos,” that “representatives should reflect the people NOT the party,” that “the views of a rural locality are not swallowed up by representatives of the urban Central belt,” and “Scottish people should be more politicised, taking control of decisions which affect their life.”


2.9 National Stature


Many groups recognised that the next 20 years will be a time of considerable reflection on constitutional status. To some, the year 2020 would be an opportunity for “our grand kids [to] say thanks for fightin’ for our independence AT LAST after 300 years.” Others, slightly fewer in number, wanted “Parliament to recognise us as part of the nation of Britain [so that we] are included in nationwide issues.” A number of groups seemed to be taking a “wait and see” approach to constitutional relationships with England and the Union. One, for example, expressed the expectation of independence but with “free movement of people and recognis[ing] England as its closest ally and trading partner.”


What were perceived in some cases to be residues of a onetime Empire were remarked upon. A group of fishing industry workers and others said they wanted to see “the Scottish flag encouraged and the Union Jack abandoned as a thing of colonialism.”


It was recognised that we might have to “address the problem of the choice of monarchy or republic,” though by and large, the Queen was left out of people’s comments. However, where traditional power was felt to be intrusive, it was condemned by a number of groups. Thus a group of people with mental health problems in Dumfries and Galloway surmised:


We would like to get rid of the military, archaic landed gentry and large foreign conglomerates. We want nuclear disarmament, to be ecologically aware and improving health and education. We want to be strongly part of the United Nations and be an example in improving world situations.


A number of groups felt that we could “take a lead in Europe” on such issues as “human rights and representative structures which are responsive.” There was a sense of getting rid of the ancien regime and bringing a fresh perspective to the practice of freedom: “people [will] have come to understand who they are and what they are.... The old rules and laws that were of a past era no longer apply to them.” A group called Education and Nation hoped:


As an independent Scottish state [celebrates] its 21st birthday, it continues to make progress towards a genuinely open society, free of all the patronage, political corruption and totalitarian characteristics that have strangled the good life here for centuries.


Several groups expressed the “hope that we can reach out to other countries in their times of need” and that “Scotland will support peace and understanding worldwide.” On environment, we should “‘act locally and think globally’ - but short on rhetoric and strong on action.” Parliament should “protect from the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI)” and make “a strong and successful Scottish contribution to the worldwide movement for the eradication of unpayable debt burdens on impoverished countries.” All this would, doubtless, be helped along by fulfilment of the aspiration for “a World Cup win.”  



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