The SSRG hosted a ground breaking cross-party conference – Empowering the Nation, in Dunfermline, Scotland’s ancient capital, over the weekend (29th – 31st of July). It was the first major conference to be held following the announcement by the First Minister of a date for the next independence referendum; the first chance for independence supporters to publicly address many of the key issues and constitutional questions currently facing Scotland.
All of Scotland’s political parties were invited and over 250 delegates attended the event in the Carnegie Conference Centre with over 130 people taking part online. Early feedback has been very positive with delegates praising the positive way in which the 22 strong line-up of well known speakers led wide ranging debates on Scotland’s future from all aspects – academic, technical, populist and political; under the devolved settlement and as a self reliant sovereign nation.
The first debate of many over the weekend focused on – the Potential Routes to Independence – and established a clear consensus that urgent action needs to be taken urgently in parallel on a number of fronts. Many agreed that to be able resolve the economic and social damage being wrought on us by the actions of the Westminster Government Scotland needs to fully exercise our constitutional rights domestically and internationally as a sovereign nation.
One of the many highlights over the weekend was the session on Strategic Infrastructure and Trade where the gaps weaknesses and the strategic decisions of the UK government were explored with the resulting under-development in Scotland’s Road Rail Aviation & Maritime infrastructure exposed by Professor Alf Baird and Iain Cameron. The likely social and economic benefits achievable in these areas in an independent Scotland were the subject of considerable debate with conference delegates.
There were significant contributions by Professor Richard Murphy and Dr Tim Rideout on Scotland’s economy and proposals for a Scottish Currency with a wide ranging debate on some quite technical issues. On a lighter note delegates really enjoyed taking part in a novel experiment over the weekend led by the Scottish Currency Group, which advocates the introduction of a Scottish currency as soon as possible after independence. A “Scottish Central Bank” and a “Bureau de Change” booth were set up during the conference to illustrate the introduction of a new currency. The conference virtually became a “sterling free zone” for 3 days so that all attendees could use newly designed Scottish currency for any purchases they made at the venue.
A wide range of topics were covered during this eventful weekend including Language Culture & Identity, Land Ownership Taxation & Natural Resources, Media Ownership & Regulation, Defence Requirements & Policy in Scotland, Intyernational Law & Relations & Recognition, and Scotland’s Constitution.
The concluding session led by Dr Mark McNaught saw Douglas Chapman MP, Neale Hanvey MP, and Sara Salyers deliver an inspiring open & honest debate with hard hitting questions from attendees.
The Conference Presentations, Q&A sessions & discussions have raised many thought provoking issues which will require further research and action to enable the independence campaign to make real progress.
We are working on these and preparing our next steps which may include the formation of working groups, consultations and roadshow events on –
The routes which Scotland can take to re-establish its independence,
The form and content of the written constitution for an independent Scotland,
The development of policy for key areas of governance, both before & after we become an independent state.
If you have subscribed to SSRG we will keep you to date personally on progress.