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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

One year from Indyref: An enduring settlement? I think not

This opinion piece is over 8 years old

​Martin Sime asks what the third sector has got out of post Indyref politics

One year on from the referendum we are older but no wiser as to the future of Scotland.

Opinion polls are evenly balanced; the traditional media is just as unevenly prejudiced; London and the political establishment seem to have moved on to the next existential threat, at least for now. We are left to chew over the bones.

For much of our sector this means more of the same - trying to pick up the pieces from merciless assaults on those least able to fend for themselves.

If anything, the savagery of the project to dismantle the welfare state has intensified with the Tory general election victory. Our Edinburgh and London governments are on different courses to seemingly opposite destinations.

Martin Sime, SCVO

Real politics happens predominantly at street level and across thousands of networks which join the common interests and causes which motivate people

Martin Sime, SCVO

The post-referendum political party revival and the election of Corbyn may have book-ended the year with new enthusiasm for traditional politics, but many fear it is no more than a dead cat bounce.

Real politics now happens more predominantly at street level, through social media and across thousands of networks which join the common interests and causes which motivate people.

The referendum brought some of that latent energy to the fore and illustrated the potential which could lead to a wider vision of democratic renewal, where small advances make a big difference and where diversity and pluralism are seen as virtues to be treasured.

It is good to see the third sector at the very heart of these changes because the future of our country, wherever the location of its government, depends on the contributions which we are all prepared to make to it.

There is no better illustration of the bankruptcy of the old ways than the Smith Commission and all that followed. Powers were traded like Top Trumps in the name of political expediency but with scant regard for the poor citizen who will have to navigate between two systems designed for different purposes.

The public has not yet been encouraged to understand any of these complexities, most likely because they are incomprehensible. An enduring settlement? Somehow I don’t think so.

I suspect that many are bored with the powers debate and just want to get on with the task of building a civilised, open and caring society which can hold its head up in the world and meet the future with confidence, whatever the price of oil.

One year on and in the absence of a political settlement, we may have to comfort ourselves by doing useful stuff as best we can with whatever resources we can find - which turns out, after all, to be the very building blocks of the more sustainable and inclusive country that so many are trying to reach.

Martin Sime is chief executive of the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations.



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Calum Macaulay
over 8 years ago
I "get on with the task of building a civilised, open & caring society" by not being bound by others' binary thinking. We are the THIRD sector, afterall.
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over 8 years ago
indeed we must use the resources about us - which really means the skills and education of people here in Scotland. The days of hoping for a wall of money from the North Sea are truly over - today's oil price not only means hardly any tax revenues but sadly big job losses too.
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