Fairer Scotland

Good Intentions Need Courage

July 17, 2015 by 2 Comments | Category Uncategorized

Mike Stevenson (Director, Thinktastic).

If policy and good intent were enough Scotland’s streets will soon be paved with gold, but there are impediments to progress we have to sweep aside now.

While I find great richness of talent and ideas in schools, neighbourhoods and workplaces these are usually whispered – not shouted. Then, if ideas are heard they are too often thwarted by an overburdening and risk-averse management culture.

When Napoleon Bonaparte said: “Over-preparation is the foe of inspiration,” he touched on a condition Scots understand only too well. I have given over 10,000 citizens a chance to nominate and discard our most dispiriting words and phrases: “It’ll never work” “I’ll have to speak to my manager” and ‘It’s aye been” always score highly.

We need to radically transform our approach in four key areas

  1. Show real leadership and release people to think big, act and make mistakes – how many of our greatest talents have had to leave these shores to thrive.
  2. Get schoolchildren as early as seven, involved in shaping our neighbourhoods – More colour? Yes, let’s just do it.
  3. Create a language that’s clear, affirming and lifts spirits. “Let’s tackle poverty” disempowers. “Let’s create new richness” is a call to action. ‘New Scot’ is better than ‘immigrant.’
  4. Speed up decision-making and make things happen quickly – action builds belief. 24 hours to pedestrianise a street in Brazil’s Curitiba. Fantastic!

Edwin Morgan described perfectly what Scots people want of their nation:

  • They want it to be as open and adventurous as its architecture.
  • A nest of fearties is what they do not want.
  • A symposium of procrastinators is what they do not want.
  • A phalanx of forelock-tuggers is what they do not want.

Time to put the ‘brave’ back in Scotland and beat off our ‘complexity sellers and naysayers.’


  • Jay Ell says:

    I agree with Mike’s ideas about language, but that is only one prong of the many pronged attack that is needed to challenge the disgraceful poverty that is rampant in our society. Much more important, I’d say, is to do what Alan says, i.e. tackle the actual physical and material roots (health, education, employment social security and housing).
    It is time for change. Long past time.
    In this digital age, health reviews should happen on schedule and appointments for scanners etc. should be made within a day (actually in about five minutes, with any decent database) and happen within a week (do we need our scanners to run 24 hours a day -so be it). In an age of human decency (if that’s what we’re aiming for) free education at every level should be followed by appropriate employment for the benefit first of the community (Government versions of every industry/service are needed, for the purposes of post-education training and provision of services to the community) and then for the private sector, if that is wanted. Social security should be helpful and complementary, not punitive. And housing should be available to all and should be healthy (how many inadequate properties and built environments are ruining peoples lives and putting a strain on the health service – storage heaters and dampness, lack of local facilities (gyms, shops, parks etc.) because of building -or lack of it- to meet the demands of business rather than people?).
    Politicians have failed people. That is if you believe that the role of politicians and governments is to provide conditions for humans to live healthily and happily in society. If you believe that, then politicians consistently fail to meet the goals they set themselves at the beginning of each parliamentary term. Then they get paid a relative fortune for doing so. Things have to change. Attitudes have to change.
    In Scotland, the “Better Together” parties try to use any of the above against the SNP and the Scottish Government. They do so because their own neoliberal policies have caused the poverty of millions. They cannot acknowledge the advances made by the SNP and Scottish Government because it throws their own failures into sharp relief and makes them plain to all who want to look. Their attitudes have to change.
    Attitudes have to change because beneath all of the austerity and the failed policies is the “me-first” attitude engendered by (ultimately) competitiveness against others and promoted by a partisan and corrupt mainstream media. Time for change Scotland. Time to think differently. Time to stop saying, “society should be judged by how it treats its most vulnerable” and start making and implementing policy to benefit the most vulnerable. Time for change Scotland.

  • alan morrison says:

    If only it were that easy, I agree with you on much of your statement, getting it into peoples minds is another matter altogether, I am often reminded of an old saying my father used to quote whilst he was working, aimed at a few that got promoted before him. “The working class and kiss my **s, I’ve got the foreman’s job at last” a true saying then and now, all to often, this happens when you are promoted or find yourself a bit better off than the people around you. These days children are churned out of school and left to their own devices, they and us are let down from their potential and soon find themselves forever without hope, so they give up and fall prey to all manner of evils in society that await them, tackle poverty at the very root, poor wages, poor housing, and sub standard education, make people proud of who they are and let them understand respect, and value those around them.

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