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March 27, 2013

Comrie conversation

Irrespective of how the independence question is resolved, a sustained spotlight on the issue of Scotland’s future governance can only be a good thing for the ailing health of our democracy.  We’ve already started to see all sorts of democratic innovations at a national level – So Say Scotland, Demo-max , The Future of Scotland. Now we’re beginning to see the emergence of a grassroots debate. Could the Comrie Conversation be the first stirrings of a new democracy movement?



Comrie conversation

Over 100 folk turned out for the first in a series of four ‘Comrie Conversations’ on the issues around independence for Scotland.  The guest speakers for the evening, journalist Lesley Riddoch and land reformer Andy Wightman, were really taken by the enthusiasm and quality of the evenings discussion.  One participant summed up the evening saying, “ It was great, and funnily enough we hardly mentioned independence, we had much bigger fish to fry!”.

The evening was opened by Ian Findlay who did a fine job of chairing the meeting. Andy Wightman spoke first and showed a series of slides, Broadly he spoke of the inequalities now facing this country; the levels of private (and public debt); the lack of land reform; and how centralized a democracy we have become. Lesley then talked of the different systems in Nordic countries and compared Scotland to some of those countries.   It all made for interesting listening. The floor was then thrown open to discussion.

The second half was spent discussing things at tables to come up with themes for the three Comrie Conversations planned for May, September and November.  There was a huge range of issues raised from ‘What does independence actually mean’ to “The role of the monarchy”, ‘Re-skilling Scotland’ and ‘How to address the fear of change’. Themes to emerge included ‘How to create a strong economy without trashing the planet’ to ‘What form of governance to we want – Brussels, Edinburgh, Comrie?’  The ‘ideas boxes around the room were full of comments and a summary of the evening can be seen on the Comrie Conversations facebook page. 

There was talk of what we can do in Comrie to make ideas happen.  There was a strong feeling that we should keep Comrie Conversations a ‘party politics free zone’ with ideas like preparing a “Comrie manifesto’ and inviting the politicians to come and listen to us in early 2014.

For future meetings folk didn’t want an adversarial style of discussion and favoured a “Question Time’ format but with plenty of chance for creative discussion.

A number of people came forward interested in helping to make the next three happen in May, September and November.  If you want to be involved it is not too late – you can contact the organisers through the facebook page. It looks like its going to be a fascinating year!

For more information on this press release contact Alan Caldwell 0774 058 7336