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15 October, 2014

The Scottish Referendum has disturbed the world
The Scottish Referendum has disturbed the world
On the 08 October 2014, Initiatives of Change UK’s Sustainable Communities programme organised a two-hour discussion on the Scotland referendum with Ian Monteague, Chair of the Board of Trustees of Family Action in Rogerfield and Easterhouse (FARE), a leading Glasgow-based community organisation. 

The discussion encompassed opinions not only about the referendum itself, but also about the future governance of the United Kingdom. Monteague shared his concern on the promises made by Westminster and whether they would be kept. The truth, he pointed out,  was that tectonic plates had moved, and in his opinion, not just geographical, but spiritual, political and societal. They would not go back to the same place they were before the referendum. With the Scottish referendum, the world changed on the 18th September Monteague was stunned at the impact it had on that day, and the effects around the world.

The main message Monteague conveyed was that, even though he was one of those who voted No, and voted to stay part of the UK, he did vote for a change. Everyone who voted a Yes or a No, voted for a change. The ‘marriage’ between Scotland and Britain, which happened 300 years ago, has recently ‘been as useful as a banana’. 

The Yes campaign was saying ‘we need a divorce’ and the No campaign was saying that they need new agreements in this marriage. The main drive of both parties was the desire for the social justice and for the things to be better.

Asking a question on Scotland
Asking a question on Scotland
Participants learnt of a discussion between Monteague and Gordon Brown, former Prime Minister of Britain, where Monteague shared his thoughts that things have to change and that ‘We can’t simply dish up the same meal we had yesterday’ and Brown allegedly replying ‘I know’.

To understand the Scottish desire for a change, the attendees were given an insight into the character of the people. Scots are disputatious, and the referendum itself began with a deep desire for social justice. They believe that politics is not only for the political class but for everyone, and everyone should be a decision maker. 

Scotland is a progressive society originating in values, ethics, beliefs, and it has a legal system which is different to any other in the UK. As Monteague pointed out ‘the legal system began with a church, the education system began with a church’. The beliefs, the ethics and the values are part of that scaffolding, of that whole process Scotland has been involved in.

Historically, the Scottish people have always seen themselves as cosmopolitan citizens of the world. It is estimated that Scotland, a population of about five million people has about 18 million emigrants all over the world, and many in very significant roles. In the recent years, they feel that their industry, livelihood and dignity have gone in many respects because London has not been listening to them. Monteague gave a very good example that the same thing can happen in families and communities, and the patterns and principles are not different. To change things in the world, one has to start with their own family and apply the same principles to the family and community then scale them and lift them to the city level in the country.

Monteague shared his thoughts on solutions that could  be implemented. He proposed a federal approach, and this, in his opinion, would only reinforce the UK to become stronger and more able to deal with strategic matters and areas of concern. He also proposed that action was needed to develop and support cities, such as Glasgow, Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Newcastle, to meet the needs of their people and to bring them to the same level of development as London. He also suggested to look at the systems of the local communities, because even though the UK is one the wealthiest countries, the level of the poverty and deprivation in some communities is appalling.

The attendees learnt that the referendum can in some ways act as a catalyst for other nations to separate, and Monteague shared his believes that a domino effect is possible for the Catalans, Italians, and even Texas. He believes the referendum has disturbed the world. The referendum was based on the desire of social justice, spirituality and the great need of the Scottish people to be listened to.

There were shared concerns on the conflict between listening and delivering, as the Scots know that the democracy is moving very slowly and it may take longer for the Westminster to reinforce the promises made to the Scots on the 18th September.

Monteague concluded that the decision makers should take into account the God’s policies: the quest for social justice, addressing the needs of the poor and the dispossessed and simply listening to their people. 

Photographer:  Davina Patel

 

 

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