After a international business career which included living and working in Germany, Denmark and Ireland Iain returned to Scotland three years ago and has been enjoying the great outdoors as well as consulting work and coaching not for profit leaders. He lives with his wife Melanie and his two daughters were raised in Edinburgh and are now enjoying their careers based in Sydney Australia.
By working on issues that concern us all, Scotland’s divided politics can come back together this year.
As Summer begins to fade and we feel the cool winds of Autumn, MSP’s thoughts turn to the new parliamentary session and the growing sense of doom shared with many of their constituents – the challenges facing us all feel overwhelming, beyond our control and opportunities and indeed optimism feel in short supply. It’s at times like this we would hope our Politicians can focus on us, their constituents, our hopes and fears for the future and pull together to work for the common weal.
In fact co-operation and working from the first principles of opportunity and social justice for all Scots is its founding mission, as Donald Dewar put it at the first opening “This is about more than our politics and our laws. This is about who we are, how we carry ourselves”. So can our Politicians rise to our needs – momentous times can bring a focus, an energy, a determination to contribute to that common weal – wouldn’t it be refreshing to see collaboration, real debate, working together to develop solutions … our MSP’s have a choice to make – who are they and how do they want to carry themselves?
So in a Parliament that is addicted to the familiar zero sum and reductive constitutional arguments how do we break out of this. Healthier people and a stronger economy provide the foundation for social justice improving resilience for individuals and society. Where could common ground be found? It’s not possible to please all the people all the time so choices compromises and trade offs are needed all round – here are three areas ripe for collaboration that don’t have to cut across the key dividing lines (eg tax) for the main parties.
Scotland’s jewels lie for many in our North, the highlands, islands and supporting the often strong communities to thrive, how about a real strategy to connect, leaving the Ferry debacle aside how about getting behind the A9 dualling, broadband roll out, rail infrastructure? There is compromise needed for roadbuilding, but the trade-offs are broadband and rail that also reduce personal travel and shorten distances.
To redistribute wealth requires it to be created in the first place, strong public services require tax revenues – making it easier to do business in Scotland would include a focus on reforming business rates, planning consents and broadening the remit of the Scottish Investment bank to support growth businesses as well as the connectivity improvements.
A parliament that’s truly ‘Stronger for Scotland” would bring significant benefit through greater rigour and openness to debate bringing more balance to decision and law making. doesn’t have sufficient powers to fully hold the Executive to account and bring rigour to developing new laws, how about a cross party working group with a finite time to bring greater rigour and openness to debate, strengthen the Scottish Parliament and civic life across Scotland?
Dewar also commented “striving to do right by the people of Scotland; to respect their priorities; to better their lot; and to contribute to the common weal” reminding our Parliamentarians of this and asking for some common endeavours will greatly improve both their delivery and the lives of Scots as well as civic debate.
Politics is by its nature polemic, but finding some common ground, some agreement on basics will help to make Scotland more resilient and prosperous whatever its constitutional journey brings. The vision of “men and women from all over Scotland meeting to work together for a future built from the first principles of social justice” is within our grasp – over to the MSP’s to decide who they want to be.