Aidan Skinner Campbell says we must rouse ourselves from the impotent astonishment that arises from recent events, and build together an open future for all.
Two days ago, the SNP and the Greens voted1 for a second independence referendum. Yesterday, Theresa May triggered Article 50 and started taking back control.
I’m afraid, I’m angry, I’m confused and I’m scared. I’m also still here. So are you.
We must now build an Open Union. That doesn’t just mean one that is transparent but also one that is accessible. Open2 is a verb, not a noun.
Scotland, like the UK and the EU, is full of opportunities which people can see but which they cannot take. Making it more visible to them is like putting music on random and U2 popping up: at best it doesn’t really help.
But we can build an Open Union with power pooled and shared in Parliaments which work for us.
We can tackle the root causes of the financial crisis by creating an Open Pound managed by a Bank of the UK. It should be designed in public, it should be comprehensible without a deep understanding of the theory of money3 and it should be one of the bulwarks against the regular crises which are an inherent4 part of a modern economy.
The Open Bank will help us properly fund5 the Open Education and Open Care services which recognise that we have different means and needs through the course of our lives and that we all learn, teach, care and are cared for by one another.6
We have a chance now to remake the UK from the ashes that the combination of English and Scottish nationalism has left of the polite fictions that eased the creaky wheels of much of the UK constitution.
Those fictions have hidden many of the sins which are now devouring the Union. The unrepresentative, divergent and distorting electoral systems used in the UK7, the degree of autonomy of our executive branches and the lack of faith in politics across the UK as a whole have reached crisis point8.
But all of those institutions can be changed to support our better, more open politics. We can do this. We are responsible for our own actions. The first step is to build an Open Politics to build our Open Union with.
Open Politics needs us to change how we talk and act to each other though, within Scotland, within the UK and outwardly with the EU and the world. That, I think, boils down to: don’t be a dick9.
In order to open up our country to ourselves our eyes, our ears, our hearts and our minds must be open to the changes that are coming and to each other.
An Open Scotland in an Open Britain with an Open Politics finding ways to work better with each other for an Open World.
1 With a weaker, more qualified mandate than in 2011 but legitimately within the rules of the UK constitution. Just as it is within the UK constitution for that to require consent from the UK parliament as a whole. Whether that should be the mechanism for it is open to debate, but this is the system we have and if the promise of liberal democracy is that we can debate serious issues without anybody ending up in a camp then it’s important we uphold things like the rule of law and the democratic process.
2 “Yes but what actually is Open?” is a good question: transparency, accessibility, equality and a person centred view are the key parts of this. It’s also purposeful and proselytising: the existing closed world is inaccessible which makes it inherently unfair, inefficient, ineffective and must be transformed by working together in better ways.
3 If you explain the current way that private banks create fiat credit they will look at you like you’ve grown a third head. Many economists are much worse than this and have actively harmful misunderstandings of the nature of money and banks. For more on this I recommend Ann Pettifor’s new book.
4 Inefficient and turbulent markets may even be desirable to allow technology to develop and then force consolidation and improvement through pressure, but it does not need to have the impact on peoples lives that it currently does.
5 Not through excessive money creation or taxation but by addressing the more egregious misallocations of resources an overly financialised economy like ours is prone to.
7 Proportional representation won’t fix everything. STV and AMS still distort Scottish politics, but it will help.
8 There are many necessary reforms around party funding, relationships with the press and so on which would have created major scandals if we hadn’t been lurching from crisis to crisis for much of the last decade under the Conservatives.
9 This is a higher bar than I can manage sometimes and I’m genuinely sorry about that. Please point it out to me as quickly and as gently as you can, I’ll try to hear it quickly and graciously.