Referendum Roadshow

Referendum Roadshow, by Lesley Riddoch

I’ve proposed a Referendum Roadshow to the Board of the Scottish Community Alliance where constitutional solutions would be ONE PART of a bigger debate about the obstacles faced by Scottish communities.

SCA was formed last year as a campaigning body for most of the community groups and networks that own and manage local assets in Scotland including housing, transport, energy, land management, allotments, food production, financial services and the environment.

The Alliance has strong links with communities across Scotland who’ve been turning the tide on decades of centralisation and centuries of landlessness in rural and urban Scotland.  The Referendum Roadshow would invite interested communities to identify the five main problems holding back local growth and SCA would hold a series of events.

The first part of each “Roadshow” would have local people outlining their “manifestos for growth” with politicians in the audience listening and asking questions.  Part Two would reverse the roles and invite those politicians – supporters of independence, devo plus, devo max and the status quo – to demonstrate how their preferred constitutional option might help resolve local problems.

We may find some communities don’t think big enough – we may find some want UDI.  We may find some problems could be resolved by powers the Scottish Government already possesses – we may find a strong case for more.  The aim of the exercise is to reverse the normal direction of travel, make politics practical and put Scotland’s most active people in the driving seat with politicians jumping to THEIR tune.

This is a low cost not a no-cost option.  It doesn’t need a lot of cash to happen.  But it does need some – and above all it needs politicians to hand over ownership of the process.  A half-hearted commitment to an innovative, community-focussed idea like this will not work.  Such an idea will eat up hard-pressed volunteer time and a commodity in even shorter supply – faith in politicians.

But if Scotland’s political parties mean what they say about having a memorable, vigorous, nationwide, grassroots debate before Autumn 2014 they need to step out of the way.

A genuinely independent debate can only be run by independent people.

Or does someone have a better idea?