To follow up on my last blog about TEDGlobal, here are some suggestions for conversation topics about a new Scotland:

What do we mean by independence? In an interdependent world, where does nationalism fit? How important is a separate identity? And is independence or identity founded on nationality or shaped by geographic borders or is it a function of culture or language or economics or what? What is the most effective size for a political unit within a larger continental framework? Why maintain a parliament 400 miles away when a combination of Europe and Edinburgh can cover just about everything?

What about allocation of limited resources? What if we can't have everything we need - or want? Who decides? And upon what basis? Should higher education be funded by the taxpayer - and how do we prioritise? When it snows, should we be entitled to be compensated by our fellow citizens through the tax system for inconvenience caused? Where does responsibility begin and finding someone else to blame end? Are we realistic in our expectations of others - or the system?

Can we find ways of managing major capital projects in such a way that they are fairly priced, realistically assessed, effectively supervised and satisfactorily handled when things go wrong, as they surely will? How can we learn from our experiences of when things don't go to plan? To what extent would fiscal responsibility help us to handle these sorts of projects more effectively?

Even these questions will have provoked a reaction. That is the point, as with a TED talk. The objective, however, is not to inflame but to encourage mature discussion, where different views can be expressed with vigour, but always with respect, and recognised as contributions to be built on, not knocked down. Then we might develop options and explore what is truly in the interests of the people of Scotland. Ideas worth spreading. A kind of enlightenment, if you like.

( a version of this blog appeared in Caledonian Mercury recently)


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