Imagining Scotland’s Future - Reflection on Events

I was initially intrigued by the idea of discussing Scotland’s future without discussing the referendum in 2014. But that has been the real strength of this series of events. We have not become bogged down in a YES/NO debate. Rather they have enabled those attending to take a step back and be more open and creative in their thinking.

I was involved in a number of events both as a participant and as a facilitator. As facilitator it was really inspiring to hear some of the ideas that people had. At one event I was particularly taken by a suggestion given that whatever the outcome of the referendum that Scotland should strive to be a good small country. That is to say not to be obsessed by having a seat at every table or being bigger than we really are. But simply to be good at what we do and succeed in that.

At another event I led there were a number of people who attended who had chosen to come to the event rather than attend a meeting of the local YES campaign group. They thought it would be good to come and hear from a broad range of views rather than sit in a room with like-minded people.

Sadly one of the constant themes in the discussions I was part of was a lack of trust and respect for our politicians. And so I hope that the report will be well received and that politicians will listen to what people from across Scotland, across age groups, across social demographics have to say about the kind of Scotland they want to live in. Because no matter whether we continue as part of the Union or become an independent country we should be striving to be the nation that its people aspire to be – not what our politicians tell us we should be.

Rev Shuna Dicks

Imagining Scotland’s Future sounds like a pretty big exercise and indeed it was. Logistically and imaginatively it stretched the resources of participants but has left us with a treasure trove of ideas and aspirations that can enrich the devolution debate.

Those of us that took part in the exercise, either as facilitators or otherwise felt we were taking part in a process that has challenged everybody to think a little more deeply about the issues behind the headlines and attention grabbing soundbites. It required all participants to come out of comfortable preconceptions to discuss the big question: what kind of Scotland do we actually want to live in?

The answer to this question in all the groups in which I participated was positive and encouraging: we want a Scotland that is more caring and more equal than the country we live in right now. The way this conclusion was repeatedly expressed in different settings and in different groups strongly suggests is it is not a chance result. Nor is it likely that this this message is related to how people will vote. Participants who hold diametrically opposed views on independence and will vote in opposite ways may well share the same positive vision. It does suggest that under the cynicism there are aspirations that are generous and altruistic. It also highlights the shallowness of media reporting of the referendum debate.

In the debate there are real and justifiable concerns about jobs, public services and our future wellbeing, under either the status quo or an independent Scotland, but these concerns did not dominate the debate in churches or other groups who took part in the exercise. Rather, Imagining Scotland’s Future opened up a new seam of positive thinking about the future, a seam of thought hidden away for all these years under geological layers of media deposited cynicism!

Adrian Shaw