Planning for place: bringing together community planning and spatial planning

Audit Scotland

Everyone knows that where you live has a major impact on your life chances, and that disadvantage is concentrated in particular geographies.

Charles Booth’s famous poverty maps of London were prepared in 1889. In Scotland, we’ve had decades of high quality research by places like the Glasgow Centre for Population Health (GCPH) into the impact that Glasgow’s industrial heritage and clusters of poverty and deprivation have on peoples’ health and life chances.

This is important information, affecting individuals and communities day in and day out across Scotland. Tackling the root causes of what drives these cycles of deprivation and poor outcomes is one of the country’s most pressing problems if it wants to create a fair and just society.

That’s why the Improvement Service ran a recent conference exploring the links between community planning – public bodies working with communities to improve their local area – and spatial planning, which…

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A misty mountain view

The psychopathology of everyday nationalism

Psychotherapy teaches us that when people are attracted to visions of a perfect future and then become aggressive towards people who do not buy into their fantasy, they are in denial about some aspect of themselves.  So what, therefore, might a psychological understanding of the appeal of Scottish nationalism look like?

This article by psychologist and psychotherapist Jock Encombe, first published in the week leading up to the 2014 Scottish referendum, is just as relevant to the heat and fury of what passes for Scottish political debate in the 2015 UK general election campaign.   As new focus group research indicates that supporters of the SNP regard any discussion of policy as ‘white noise’, Wake Up Scotland is republishing this ‘psychopathology of nationalism’ – and interestingly we discover from our statistics that many of you have beaten us to it. Over to Jock Encombe. (more…)

Tactical voting: another democratic choice

Tactical voting. Not openly celebrated by most political parties but ‘compromise voting’ is common practice in plurality elections so we better get used to it. According to no less an authority than Lord Ashcroft it could save Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy his seat. A cross-party group seeking to stem the SNP tide – and perhaps a second referendum too – has issued a detailed guide on how to do it. (more…)

Who holds the Scottish Government to account?

In theory, elections are the voters’ chance to decide who runs the country.  But once the dust has settled who holds the government to account for the next four or five years?   No matter who represents Scotland in Westminster after 7 May, Tricia Marwick, presiding officer of the Scottish Parliament, makes  a strong case for reforming the way we do things in Holyrood. (more…)

Is David Cameron up to the job of Prime Minister?

The general election is just two weeks away. Will Scotland return a record number of SNP MPs to Westminster and what would that mean for the rest of the UK and the other political parties? As the Scottish campaign enters its final phase it feels in many ways to be a rerun of last year’s referendum. Jackie Kemp considers the performance of the Prime Minister who almost lost the Union and asks if he is really up to the job.

Jackie Kemp – Is the Southbank Centre right to exclude Scotland from its flagship exhibition on British history?

History is Now, the big new exhibition at the Southbank Centre in London, is meant to address British postwar history. It does not do so. As a Scot who voted ‘No’ in the referendum I found the experience of visiting this show profoundly depressing. I left with an increased sense that a ‘British’ identity has become problematic, dislocated and fragile, and that the ties that bind the countries that make up the Union are coming undone.


Jackie Kemp – Scotland’s Pal-ocracy Makes England Look Like a Beacon of Democracy

Scottish Parliament MH Panorama 20x8 (1)

Where civil liberties are concerned, Scotland makes England look like a beacon of democracy. Scotland does not have strong independent bodies defending individual freedom. There is less emphasis on this in its education and culture. I recently mentioned to a young friend studying Higher History that this year is the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta. “Who’s she?” he replied. Since then, I have asked a number of others including students at Scottish universities and have yet to find one who has ever heard of this historic document which guarantees the rights and liberties of the citizen against autocracy. They have all heard of the Declaration of Arbroath but only the ‘Braveheart’ section about the yoke of the English oppressor. (more…)