Yup – you’ve guessed it.  Oor wee blog has turned one.  And in the absence of any parliamentary news (this recess is a looooooooooong one) we figured we’d give our own wee birthday message.  Of sorts.  So, here’s what’s happened on Better Nation thus far – 374 posts in 365 days – and some thoughts on what is to come in our second year.

Jeff says:

A lot can happen in a year, just ask Iain Gray. When we started this Better Nation blog, the SNP were 10 points behind in the polls and Scotland was preparing itself for Labour to slide its feet back under the Governmental desks that they had relinquished only four years ago. The Lib Dems, riding as high as 12% this time last year, were expected to join them.

We’ll never know if Scotland would have improved as a nation under such red/orange leadership. Arguably, there would have been more time for devolved policy with the unanswered questions on independence pushed to one side but, equally, the SNP has the ‘team, record and vision’ to take giant strides over the years to come and a cracking, if challenging, manifesto to implement.

There is lots to be done. Our education system is wobbling, our health and diet remains utterly lamentable and our environmental aspirations continue to be so extraordinary as to be world leading but, on the flip side, the economy is remaining relatively strong with exports and tourism proving robust, if not booming. Edinburgh’s cultural scene (unlike its tram network) remains the envy of most cities across the globe and Glasgow is, hopefully cockily, looking forward to being the focus of the Commonwealth in 2014.

Where do blogs fit into all of this? Filling in the cracks left open between politicians and the mainstream media? Sounds about right but with that media’s attention span shrinking as quickly as it loses readers and with a majority Government that the opposition will struggle to hold to account, blogs have a potentially starring role open to them if they are willing to put the time and effort in.

Will Better Nation fill that void? We’ll certainly try and hopefully the year ahead will see more guest posts from MSPs, more guest posts from an ever wider array of Scots and even more robust discussion in the comments section which we’ll redouble efforts to facilitate.

We might even have a secret weapon up our collective sleeves for the looming council elections but the dream scenario involves a lot of work. Either way, I’m very much enjoying what Better Nation is growing into so thanks to my fellow editors, thanks to all the commenters and thanks to the silent readers. We know you’re there, we can sense you. Do feel free to join the debate.

The Burd adds:

A tumultuous year to birth a blog.  The Tories rolled their sleeves up and set to work, Ed Miliband spent his first few months as Labour leader pondering, the SNP looked like they were down and out but surprised us all – including themselves – by breaking the electoral bank in May.

So what lies ahead?  Well, certainly nothing like the excitement as politics gets back to the everyday stuff here in Scotland.  Bills, strategies, budgets, inquiries.  The odd event to spice things up at Holyrood no doubt.  I think my predictions for 2011 were so wide of the mark, I hesitate to bring my bad luck to Better Nation.  But the first MSP to resign?  An SNP one.  This year?  I think so.

And then of course, there’s the real world, where cuts will bite hard on the heels of job losses, pay cuts (can’t keep freezing, it ain’t working) and price rises.  Will we see strikes in the next year?  Definitely.  Riots in Scotland?  Probably not, but there will be direct action and protests.

Finally what of the council elections?  I think anti-establishment independents, hitting back at the antics of party reps over the trams, might do well in Edinburgh, if they can find enough sensible candidates to stand.  Otherwise, Lib Dems will become a rump in previously held strongholds, the Tories will do surprisingly well, Labour will lose control in Glasgow and North Lanarkshire, and Scotland will resemble a rainbow nation, with all manner of weird and wonderful coalitions and minority led administrations in place.

And if I could blow out BN’s birthday candle and make a wish for the coming year, what would it be?  For more women to blog on weighty matters of state.  Here and elsewhere.

Malc mentions:

A year is, as Jeff & Kate have mentioned, a long time.  And a lot of work, if we’re honest.  I mean, we do this for fun, and (most of the time) we enjoy it, but honestly – it is a lot of work.  From the pre-election region-watch series (which was an abysmal attempt at predicting the results!) through the election liveblog itself (and the endless job that was putting together the results in our Holyrood 2011 pages – a job which we still intend to add to, help graciously received) we’ve had plenty of work to do.

We’ve also had some terrific guests – friends, friends of friends, representatives at different levels, candidates, other bloggers – provide articles for the site, two of whom we managed to convince to join our editorial team.  We said at the outset that our combined efforts would make Better Nation better than the sum of its parts – and I hope that we have achieved that.

I’ve got my favourite debates – the constitutional stuff is always entertaining – and I hope you’ve all enjoyed them as well.  So I guess here’s to another year, another 300+ posts, endless debates and banter with people we’ve never met in person.

James says:

For my tuppenny worth, in addition to the lovely and generous guests, who have given both of their time and their ideas, I’d like to thank you, the readers and the commenters. We’ve had a staggering 10,290 comments (as of last night), which a quick bit of calculator action tells me is more than 28 contributions in an average day. In fact, that’s most of the content here, and it’s certainly a tonne of largely constructive and intelligent debate.

So thanks for stopping by and reading this (like the ads on the bus that say “your ad here”, that’s a very targetted message), and doubly so for any contributions you’ve made. If you ever think “why is no-one making this particular progressive argument on Better Nation”, do drop us a line and suggest a piece for us. We’ll tend to say yes, especially to new and interesting material. Who knows, one day we might rope you into a regular slot too.

Aidan <verb>:

I’m definitely riding on the coattails of the others round here, so I’ll keep it short. Like James, I enjoy this place because of (largely) reasonable and considered argument to be found here. It’s not quite Usenet back in the day but it’s close. Next year should be an interesting one for Scottish politics, with the SNP no longer having the dastardly unionist conspiracy to blame for not getting legislation through and the council elections and I look forward to analysing it here with all y’all.