Scottish Community Alliance ‘Briefing’

Leader Comment – Angus Hardie
4th December 2019 

Does Scotland’s community sector really need to be so big? This was the provocation from Andy Wightman MSP at last week’s Community Action on Climate Conference as he bemoaned the continued absence of any meaningful tier of government that can realistically be described as ‘local’ or with sufficient powers to make decisions that matter. Nowhere in Europe, he argued, is there anything like the scale of voluntary effort that we see in our communities – the norm is for citizens to engage much more actively with their municipalities and to demand much more of their elected representatives. That, he claimed, is how a local response to the climate emergency would unfold in any normal democracy. That’s as maybe, but while the unpredictable and ad hoc nature of our sector clearly grates with the local democracy purists, the principle of local people self-organising and taking action on local concerns is far too embedded for it not to be an integral part of the emerging Scottish model of local governance. Finance, function and form will all have to be in the final mix. It will almost certainly be messy but if it works, who cares?   A mongrel democracy for a mongrel nation.