The independence referendum can sometimes feel like a lifetime ago, and it’s easy to look back with dewy-eyed nostalgia to a campaign that got a lot right but also made many mistakes.
We must own our mistakes and learn from them. The passing of time and no actual autopsy of the campaign has left a vacuum filled with urban myth and nostalgia. But one thing is evident by the results from across the country: The campaign failed outside of urban Scotland, and this is something we must recognise and change.
One issue came up time and time again on the doors of Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire. It was not the currency but a genuine feeling that independence would see us replace a south-east-centric UK, with little to no understanding of Aberdeen or Aberdeenshire, with a Central Belt-centric Scotland. I am sure the story from the Highlands and the Borders was a similar tale, and it’s an issue that has not been addressed.
Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire are no hotbeds of British nationalism; areas like Banffshire and Buchan Coast have mainly been SNP-held since 1974.
Scottish politics can often feel way too distant to those in Scotland’s diverse communities and regions, and this is something we must change.
That’s where “Talking Scotland” comes in, a monthly podcast that will look at the issues through the lens of Scotland, which exists outside the Edinburgh political bubble.
It will see groups and individuals from across Scotland host shows on a rotating basis to bring diverse voices and topics.
The team behind Talking Scotland so far has two editorial teams, one covering the Grampian and the Shetland Islands (Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Moray, Shetlands) and Tayside (Angus, Dundee, North Fife), but will be looking to bring in a Highland and Islands and a team from the Borders as the project progresses, to amplify the voices, issues and cultures of all Scotland’s airts.
The first episode launched at 7.30pm on Wednesday 17, via The National’s social media channels.
What to expect from episode one
It will be hosted by Aberdeen Independence Movement’s Karen Adam MSP, discussing how to reform and make local government work for rural and urban Scotland. She’ll be joined by MSP Kate Forbes and other guests.
It’s 30 years since Scotland has seen any real reform of local government. We have councils that cover areas with the landmass of many medium sized countries. We devolve down policy implementation, but rarely the power to shape and design policy.
Our current local government set-up does not work, and it is time for a constructive debate on reforming it to empower our diverse communities.
The discussion needs to be wide-ranging, and difficult decisions will need to be taken; it will take powers to be devolved downwards, but also hard questions about the powers currently held by councils need to be asked. Does it make sense that the implementation of education rests with the councils when the Scottish Government could better serve it?
As a movement, we must demonstrate that in our new Scotland that we have such high ambitions for, Scotland’s fantastically diverse communities will be heard, celebrated and nurtured to flourish; let’s start by hearing the voices of all Scotland’s arts and parts.