Welcome to Better Nation, our Scottish blog, built on four things its editors share: a love of ideas, an essential optimism, an anoraky obsession with politics, and a particular interest in the nation of Scotland – as it has been, as it stands now, and its future prospects.
The title comes from Dennis Lee, famously quoted by Alasdair Gray (and attributed to Gray on the walls of Holyrood itself): “Work as if you lived in the early days of a better nation”. We believe devolution has been a pretty successful endeavour thus far, but that the current constitutional arrangements are unlikely to be the final settled will of the Scottish people.
As a result, it is already a better nation than it was when the Vigil camped out under Calton Hill, but even the most cursory glance around Scotland shows continued poverty, movement away from sustainability, a business sector hardly thriving, a nervous public sector, stretched voluntary organisations and shortcomings in our democracy.
Our MPs and MSPs all seek to improve Scotland in the way they each best see fit, no matter what colour of party flag they wave or particular leader they serve under. However, for a country of our size, that is a daunting task, so this blog will aim to be, at worst, constructive criticism of their exploits, and, at best, a show of support for our politicians from interested Scots. Most in politics do have a genuine desire to improve how their country runs, and we will try to give a fair wind to their intentions, even when we have to disagree profoundly with their methods.
Independence for Scotland will, of course, be considered in various ways and at fairly regular intervals. This blog ain’t no Calman Commission where ideas are excluded before the exercise begins but it is also no National Conversation where an answer is pencilled in before research and analysis is conducted.
We aren’t naive enough to think that a blog can make a difference, however fun it may be to write and however fascinating the debates. However, whatever we end up writing between us as the days, weeks, months and perhaps even years draw on, we hope we will at least get to provide another chronicle of Scotland as it becomes a better nation.
The founding editors were a merry band of three: James Mackenzie, Jeff Breslin and Malcolm Harvey, Scottish political bloggers who forged friendships through their respective online presences. Malc’s off on his own, Kate Higgins came and went, and Aidan Skinner and Kirsty Connell joined. Dom Hinde, Natalie McGarry and Andrew Page came next. The flexibility that a panel of editors affords remains part of the key appeal for this blog.
Regular updates without onerous individual effort should be an easier recipe for a substantial, interesting blog, and, as we hope to disagree regularly, also for debate between ourselves as well as with any readers we are lucky enough to find. There remains scope for organic growth in the editorial team over time.
The aim is that this blog will also be festooned with guest writers, invitational posts from around the globe, staged debates and cross postings with other parts of the blogosphere. Furthermore, there is a corresponding Twitter feed @NationBetter, because it is important to remember that sometimes you have to go backwards in order to go forwards (and also because every permutation of “Better Nation” has already been taken!)
We will only feel it has been a success if we provoke fierce and intelligent debate, but please be nice.