For Jamie McIntyre: You’re very welcome to contribute …

Comment posted Scottish government’s mad plan for rural parliament by newsroom.

For Jamie McIntyre: You’re very welcome to contribute to For Argyll – and we wish Ardnamurchan was still with us on paper as well as in spirit.

Everyone interested in doing so is ‘entitled’ to contribute here as they wish – and is welcome. Neither we nor our readers are parochial and everyone is interested in informed discussion and variety of positions.

newsroom also commented

  • That would be interesting – what a constituency to cover.
  • Think about it.

    We’ve got a parliament. It’s not good enough. How will a Division B team help? We have to assume the A team has the best available.

    A second outfit can only take some of an already slim talent pool out of Holyrood – the one supposed to represent the entire country, listen to it and govern it. It has to be more productive to ensure that the one we’ve got raises its game to deliver this.

    A country the size of Scotland cannot have two parliaments – and pay for two parliaments (one to govern and one just to talk???) – without being a broke ruritania with no time to produce and no production revenues to pay for the talking shops.

    And when did you last hear any Scottish serving parliamentarian say anything in or outwith a Holyrood debate that was seriously worth paying to listen to or to remember?

    The argument for devo max or independence is largely based on the sense that ‘they’ don’t understand us. But if we don’t or won’t understand each other within a small country, why change anything?

    On the brink of considering independence, if we cannot imagine rural and urban folk coming to know and respect each other without ghettoised talking shops – which would quickly be seen as the smart crowd and the teuchters – why do we pretend that the sales ploy of an integrated country with a common purpose is anything other than a decoy bride?

  • We agree with Barmore2 and Iain S MacLean that LAs as we know them are showing their age and inability.

    But this hot-bath notion is not to be a layer of government so it cannot replace LAs – which are metropolitan and urban as well as rural. And a parliament is not a management structure but a debating chamber.

    This expensive folie de grandeur is not one to be ‘wished down’. It is one to be put down.

    We do not need more empty talk. We need to start making things.

Recent comments by newsroom

  • On nationalism
    If you’re referring to the author of the letter, you demonstrate the process he is talking about.
    If you’re talking about the author of the article, myself – I am a rationalist, not a nationalist. The two are not compatible.
    Lynda
  • On nationalism
    It has to be doubtful that the egg-lobbers of Kirkcaldy see: ‘a Yes vote about trying to protect what is left of the values and institutions that many of us used to think of as being British’.
    There is though a very challenging play by the Irish playwright,Tom KIlroy – Double Cross.
    This identifies the double-jeopardy of empire as being that a state newly emerged from empire into independence and forming its own identity, has no template other than empire – and so ‘creates’ itself in the image of its former imperial principal.
    What you are saying here carries all of the symptoms of that particular double cross.
    How can you know that there never was a better way of doing any of the British things you claim, bizarrely, that a ‘Yes’ vote is designed to preserve? [And the notion that the proposed new Scotland is conceived of as a place of sanctuary for the repository of the sacred artefacts of the Union you would destroy is the laugh of the campaign.]
    The NHS, for example, is now a sacred cow by default. It would be a positive advantage to be free to start again in defining, shaping and delivering a national health service free at the point of delivery.
    Your stance would be more worthy of respect had you shown an independence of mind that is willing to think newly.
    It is also noticeable that you choose the soft option of engaging with the patently honest letter – from the already paralysed victim of the action you support Scotland to take; and that you are sufficiently arrogant to assume that your own idealism is in some way ‘better’ than his?.
    You fail to engage with the major issues of the Achilles heels of nationalism – its chauvinism, its utopianism and its incipient racism.
    And by the way, the federation that the United Kingdom should move to become and which would without doubt be the most popular option of all – cross-party and across the Union – would not be a ‘unitary state’.
  • On nationalism
    ‘we ourselves’ and ‘ourselves alone’ have the same connotation of comfort in separateness.
  • Jim Murphy hit by eggs in Kirkcaldy
    On a point of fact: the ‘Seagull Whisperer’ at Mr Murphy’s Oban street session was not an apocryphal incident. We were there. We have the photographs. We christened him. His powers were mesmeric.
  • Indy, the banks and the Scottish economy
    About 20 months ago, Alastair Darling who was Chancellor at the time of the major period of meltdown in the financial sector in the Autumn of 2008 gave this first hand insight on his experience of the recapitalisation of RBS: ‘All I can tell you is that, on the night of 7 [October] 2008, no one at all anywhere in the world rushed to chip in to bail out RBS, despite the fact that it had a very large trading arm in the United States and many of the losses that it made were there.
    ‘Obviously the US Fed was immensely helpful in terms of liquidity support and tiding over;it kept RBS going for a whole afternoon when it got into trouble on that Tuesday.
    ‘When it came to recapitalisation, though — I think that the recapitalisation figure is about 30 percent of Scottish GDP — there was no one queuing up to do it. As Mervyn King said, these banks are global in life but national in death.’

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48 Responses to For Jamie McIntyre: You’re very welcome to contribute …

  1. Right on,Barmore 2, LA’s mainly disfunctional and so let the horse run and see how this plays out – please,do not wish for it to stumble at the first fense.

    Let the debate begin.

    Can we find a way to better accountability and responsibility?

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    • The key to ‘a way to better accountability and responsibility’ is surely the quality of local authority councillors, and management, and the revelations over the schools debacle in both Argyll & Bute and Angus show just how much scope there is for improvement.

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  2. I’d like to hear a bit more about how this would be constructed and how it would work before dismissing it out of hand.

    The BBC article also says: “A report has also been published, highlighting the experiences of countries which already have rural parliaments, including the benefits and potential pitfalls, success stories and the various formats used.”

    So it’s not ‘blue sky thinking’ as such – if the idea is already in use elsewhere?

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    • A sensible response. Those condemning the proposal seem to be doing so in a knee-jerk manner and in ignorance of what is involved. My default position is that anything which might serve to improve participative democracy should be assumed to be a good thing unless and until the opposite is proven.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  3. We agree with Barmore2 and Iain S MacLean that LAs as we know them are showing their age and inability.

    But this hot-bath notion is not to be a layer of government so it cannot replace LAs – which are metropolitan and urban as well as rural. And a parliament is not a management structure but a debating chamber.

    This expensive folie de grandeur is not one to be ‘wished down’. It is one to be put down.

    We do not need more empty talk. We need to start making things.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  4. This expensive folie de grandeur is not one to be ‘wished down’. It is one to be put down.

    I think the rest of us might like to see some details first before condemning it out of hand.

    Sweden, the Netherlands, Estonia, Finland, Hungary and Slovakia all have rural parliaments which are being looked to as possible models. Perhaps we should ask the Swedes if theirs is an utter waste of time.

    Here’s a quote from a PREPARE(Partnership for Rural Europe) document:

    Swedish Rural Parliament 2010

    A thousand people from Sweden and about 100 participants from 22 other EU state members visited Swedish Rural Parliament 2010, which was held from 6th to 9th May 2010 in Sunne, a village in Värmland region. The event is being organized every two years, each time in different part of the state. The main organizer of the Parliament is national organisation All Sweden Shall Live!, which organizes the event from 1989. Other co-organizers of this year’s gathering were Swedish Rural Development Network, Community of Sunne and other partners.

    The Rural Parliament is an effective instrument for rural development in Sweden. Following this model, similar events are being organized also in Estonia, Hungary and Netherlands. The event gathers participants of different ages and professions that live on rural areas or are engaged with rural development directly or indirectly. They come from public, private and economic sector (representatives of community, NGOs, youngsters, farmers, politicians, scientists, businessmen etc.). During the gathering the participants are able to associate with each other, exchange ideas and experiences and search solutions for rural sustainable development.

    The motto of this year’s Parliament was: when younger and older generations meet, there is development, because it is based on experiences of the elders and on the strength and enthusiasm of the young ones. Furthermore, it is also important that each individual takes the responsibility for his own actions, because everyone can contribute to rural development with responsible thinking and acting.

    During the Parliament 70 lectures and seminars were organised and about 30 examples of good practise were presented. Main topics of international seminars were: the future of European rural area, rural parliament as an instrument of rural development, young and democracy, women in business, sustainable development etc. The aim of the organisers was that each participant brings home new inspirations for creative actions, to spread the network of international acquaintance for potential future co-operations.

    Doesn’t sound too bad to me, and as it only meets every two years it doen’t sound very expensive either.

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  5. Newsroom :- ”we need to start making things”

    Spot on, but equal billing must be given to:-

    MAKING THINGS HAPPEN – PATICULARLY PROMPTLY,PROPERLY AND PRUDENTLY.

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  6. LAs are not best known for being rural friendly as they’re most often run by central beltists who see the “solution” as a perpetual shrinking process. Their officials are busy projecting this to government as the only wisdom that could be applied to rurality.

    I welcome any idea that would make the feelings/problems/ideas of the rural population known to the Scottish Government. The devil will be in the detail no doubt, but I wouldn’t discount this before I’d seen more of the proposal. If it’s daft, I’ll be the first to say.

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  7. Even if the body does not have any executive authority, the mere fact of having a structured way to bring together people with common interests, priorities and challenges seems like a good idea.

    Being able to discuss, debate and collate ideas and present them to government with a single voice is always more effective than when government hears those voices individually and they disappear in the background noise.

    As Anne says, the devil will be in the detail, but personally I’m interested in the idea & not for ‘putting it down’ just yet!

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    • Think about it.

      We’ve got a parliament. It’s not good enough. How will a Division B team help? We have to assume the A team has the best available.

      A second outfit can only take some of an already slim talent pool out of Holyrood – the one supposed to represent the entire country, listen to it and govern it. It has to be more productive to ensure that the one we’ve got raises its game to deliver this.

      A country the size of Scotland cannot have two parliaments – and pay for two parliaments (one to govern and one just to talk???) – without being a broke ruritania with no time to produce and no production revenues to pay for the talking shops.

      And when did you last hear any Scottish serving parliamentarian say anything in or outwith a Holyrood debate that was seriously worth paying to listen to or to remember?

      The argument for devo max or independence is largely based on the sense that ‘they’ don’t understand us. But if we don’t or won’t understand each other within a small country, why change anything?

      On the brink of considering independence, if we cannot imagine rural and urban folk coming to know and respect each other without ghettoised talking shops – which would quickly be seen as the smart crowd and the teuchters – why do we pretend that the sales ploy of an integrated country with a common purpose is anything other than a decoy bride?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      • I don’t think you have the faintest idea what is meant by the term ‘rural parliament’. Look at the Swedish example – it seems to be well thought of.

        Maybe you think rural Swedes are idiots?

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      • I have a considerable problem with term ‘teuchter’ as it is at least derogitary, certainly not PC and flies in the face of race relations.

        Please edit.

        Proud to be of Highland parentage and upbringing.

        Proud to have earned a living for over forty years to date in rural Highlands after city further
        education and subsequent employment.

        Proud to have developed ‘smart’ in order to overcome considerable obsticles put in the way of rural life.

        Impovement for future generation will only come via new collective representative bodies as those in the past have mostly failed.

        The name is unimportant.

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  8. There is loads of information on line on what happens in other countries. Unfortunately, the Swedish model, and some others are no more that large conferences and talking shops. Scots Renewables confirms above that in Sweden, they only meet every two years. We can well do without spending millions on what is no more than a large Community Council conference every two years.

    We certainly do need reform for LAs. Instead of the 32 we have at the moment, they should be combined and reduced to 15 or 16 maximum. While we are looking at reducing to one Police Authority and one Fire and Rescue Authority, we should also loook a reducing the number of Health Boards etc.

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  9. Someone’s been playing with the ‘blue sky thinking’ toys again.

    Why call it a Parliament, Sweden’s isn’t, it’s a bi-annual four day conference for sharing best practice in the Rural setting. Great idea, but it’s not a Parliament so don’t call it one.

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  10. Does it matter what it’s called? We also have a Youth Parliament – after all, the word itself just means ‘talking shop’ but without the pejorative overtones!

    I would encourage anyone who is interested in the Rural Parliament idea, even if they have already closed their mind to it ;-) to read the SAC report:-

    http://www.sac.ac.uk/mainrep/pdfs/ruralparliamentseuro2012.pdf

    This is not ‘Blue Sky Thinking’, it is a study of the direct experience of people involved in six of these Rural Parliaments in other EU countries.

    As Cllr Freeman says, they are essentially conferences which are held every two years to draw together the various groups and individuals with an interest in rural affairs and development. They provide an opportunity for networking & debate and for sharing ideas and developing collective enthusiasm, as well as making closer connections between government and rural communities and helping to ensure that the rural perspective is properly taken into account when drawing up legislation.

    The clear consensus from the ‘six’ is that this generally works well and is worthwhile and not expensive. There is plenty of existing experience (and offers of help) here to make it entirely possible that a similar scheme could work in Scotland, and because it only takes place biennially, there is no need for it to prevent anyone from ‘making things’. The term ‘talking shop’ suggests that any forum which has no executive authority is automatically a waste of time – clearly a nonsense view. The talent-pool argument also seems weak; we have seen plenty evidence over the last year or so, with the schools & other issues, that rural Scotland has many talented people who don’t have the time or inclination to commit to full-time ‘conventional’ politics at either Council or Holyrood level, and I’m sure a good number of them would be interested in a part-time operation with a narrower remit of more direct relevance to them & their communities.

    As for reducing the number of local authorities… I’m not so sure. We have seen examples of bad governance in Argyll & elsewhere, but are we really saying that this is because Argyll is too small an area to take decisions on its own affairs? That seems to me to be missing the point. If it’s efficiency savings you’re after, by all means share operational and departmental resources with neighbouring authorities – that’s a different issue. However, in all the (many) grumbles I’ve heard about A & B Council over the years, I’ve yet to hear anyone say “ahh… I chust wish we were still part of Strathclyde Region”

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  11. The term ‘talking shop’ suggests that any forum which has no executive authority is automatically a waste of time

    Quite. If one took such a blinkered view one would have to conclude that ForArgyll was a waste of time.

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  12. Whilst I am a wee bit rabid in favour of self determination for our country, I will admit to being increasingly concerned about the Edinburgh-centric views.
    Perhaps, if our seat of government were moved to Stirling in the future a fairer view would be taken about national affairs. Though ideally, Aberfoyle would be about perfect to focus the political minds.

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    • Wouldn’t any parliament no matter where it is situated become “centric”?

      Basically, there has to be a central point of governance to oversee laws.

      As long as that parliament remains in Scotland it’s closer to the Scots!

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    • The only real answer is to base the parliament at Kilcreggan, because the only way the local transport mess will be resolved is if there’s an element of self-interest amongst our politicians.

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  13. LOL @ this article and the comments over the past couple of days and it seems to be getting even funnier.

    Will admit to thinking did newsroom have a bevvy on Saturday night and wind the clocks forward a wee bit too much – like to the 1st of April? Then saw the Beeb had it on their website too.

    So this is essentially a proposal for a wee get together every couple of years and talk about rural stuff. Why don’t they all just attend that conference in Mull with the Ulva folk? Straight from the horses mouth, so to speak, they’ll get with everything they need to know.

    Edinburgh-centric? Superb terminology which I will also be applying to all things Kilmory on a local level.

    There are many countries who have a capital as one city and bigger cities that are not. Edinburgh creates a good impression for Scotland on the world’s stage. Do we really want world leaders and ambassador’s coming to the Gorbals to visit us? “Yes, Mr Ambassador, that’s a jakey. Remember and hide yer passport in yer shoes and if you bend over I’ll hide yer wallet. Where do you wish me to stash the Ferrero Rocher?”. Get a grip people.

    Aberfoyle? Why not Callander? Then we can tell visiting officials “Well we were going for Aberfoyle, but then decided on Callander as they have a better chip shop. Have you tried our new national dish yet? No? Oh here’s a battered and deep-fried Mars Bar”.

    Why not have it at Crianlarich, Auchtermuchty or Milngavie? Just so we can laugh at them trying to pronounce it.

    Well, there I’ve made a hefty comment about absolutely nothing…

    kind of like this story. Sorry newsroom! :)

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    • My preference for Aberfoyle came from always spelling Callendar wrongly.

      All kidding aside, would not Stirling make a perfect place for our parliament. Motorway and rail links with open land under the castle where there’s plenty of room for a lineup of troughs!

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      • How about holding it near where the Battle of Stirling Bridge was? or Bannockburn? Then we can make the kilt statutory dress and shout “Freeeeeeedom” at the start of each session…

        or am I being overly sentimental? lol

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  14. Not sure if I am entitled to post here as I am a resident of ‘old Argyll’ (Ardnamurchan), so don’t know whether ForArgyll includes me….

    Anyway, I am going to read the SAC report before making up my mind – but it seems to me that if we can learn lessons from elsewhere in Europe (or indeed the world) we should.

    As for a ‘talking shop’ – I myself attended the Community Land Scotland conference on Mull earlier this month, and if a future rural parliament could capture even a fraction of the determination, commitment and vision in evidence at that event, than it will be a roaring success.

    If you haven’t seen ForArgyll’s own take on that event, see http://forargyll.com/2012/03/a-cresting-wave-community-land-scotland-annual-conference/

    This includes an interesting discussion on the ‘costs’ of community empowerment as delivered through the community land movement – seems to me that we should stop obsessing about cost per se, and think rather of value for money.

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    • For Jamie McIntyre: You’re very welcome to contribute to For Argyll – and we wish Ardnamurchan was still with us on paper as well as in spirit.

      Everyone interested in doing so is ‘entitled’ to contribute here as they wish – and is welcome. Neither we nor our readers are parochial and everyone is interested in informed discussion and variety of positions.

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  15. Hi Jamie
    If the propsoed Constituency boundaries for Westminster go ahead, Fort William and Ardnamurchan Pen. will be part of the Argyll Constituency.
    Old and new coming together!

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  16. Born as I was in “old” Argyll, south of the River Leven in Kinlochleven I recall feeling somewhat displaced when the county boundaries were revised around 1974 to exclude my home patch and Ardnamurchan and Morvern from Argyll. It is somewhat salutory to realise that I was active politically prior to that and I now look forward to renewing aquaintance to some of the older stalwarts from North Lorn and Morvern in due course.Like us in Oban they have doubtless expanded in numbers and in girth.

    While Westminster MPs in Scotland have less -and let us hope, even less – to do the proposed constituency sizes take little account of physical geography but are locked into the M25 numbers game and mindset.

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  17. My first recollection of Brian Wilson was of a scruffy but very earnest radical anti- nuclear weapons campaigner at the Ardnadam Pier on the Holy Loch when Polaris was in the offing.
    Later as the founder and editor of the West Highland Free Press he brought a very welcome wind of change to journalism in the Highlands by challenging, often successfully, the status quo but his visceral dislike of the SNP damaged much of that work and influence. It is interesting to note that now every constituency where the WHFP is widely read is represented by an MSP msp.
    My, but how Brian changed when the bright lights of Westminster and Ministerial office beckoned!

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  18. I am always disappointed, but never surprised, when people commenting here fail to engage with the *topic*, in this case Brian’s compelling analysis that highlights the flaws in the rural parliament proposal. Instead they rail against him, effectively taking pot-shots at the *messenger*.

    That tells me you know he is the one on target. You have no answers to his charges: 1, that centralisation is at epidemic levels; 2, that the cuts being chosen by the SNP government are damaging for rural communities; and 3, that this rural parliament idea is deluded.

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