Overview

June 9, 2011

UPDATE 20 October 2011:

The idea has evolved.  We are happy to announce the inauguration of the Scottish Synergy Salon.

Real Prosperity and Joined-Up Thinking… Politics should “do you”!

Dr Katherine Trebeck of Oxfam Scotland

Dr Katherine Trebeck of Oxfam Scotland

“…a diversity of individuals and organisations with a shared commitment to ensuring that Scotland’s future is socially and environmentally sustainable and prosperous”Dr Katherine Trebeck, Research & Policy, Oxfam Scotland

Profesor Linda McKie, Research Professor in Sociology, Glasgow Caledonian University

Profesor Linda McKie, Glasgow Caledonian University

“…a real opportunity to achieve joined-up governance in ways that can actively promote the health and well-being of communities”Professor Linda McKie, Professor of Sociology, Glasgow Caledonian University

Pat Kane, writer, musician, consultant and activist

Pat Kane, writer, musician, consultant and activist

“I support this group as an attempt to join up the dots across many areas of Scottish policy.”Pat Kane, writer, musician, consultant and activist

Don’t do politics?

Well, perhaps it’s because politics doesn’t do you!

This is about changing that.

The following should tell you all you need to know about the campaign.

This is the website for a campaign for a new cross-party group (CPG) in the Scottish Parliament, on “Real Prosperity and Joined-Up Thinking”.

R. Eric Swanepoel and Julia McGregor

R. Eric Swanepoel and Julia McGregor, co-originators of the campaign for a Cross-Party Group on Real Prosperity and Joined-Up Thinking

The originators are R. Eric Swanepoel (writer) and Julia McGregor (health and social care worker).

The idea of this campaign is to collect statements and notices of support from far and wide, but particularly from within Scotland, and then to send these to Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) to encourage them to set up the proposed CPG.

See the latest news to stay abreast of developments.

FAQs

Also have a look at the “inspiring sites” links to get an idea of the sorts of issues the CPG might examine!

NB

  • The idea is not to burden MSPs with yet another Cross-Party Group to attend.  Rather it is, whenever possible, to bring various CPGs together on issues of common interest.
  • The CPG would not solely focus on alternative measures of economic progress. It’s also about joined-up thinking.  For example, if mental health, the legacy of abuse and poor education amongst the prison population are addressed, would this be a cost-effective way of reducing re-offending?

Please support this idea

Once you have read the above, please consider giving us a statement of support or simply letting us list you as a supporter.  The first three statements of support received are linked below.  Please note that there is no need to write as much as these supporters have – even a single sentence would be sufficient!

Additional statements of support

Statements of support received after the onset of the campaign may be found here.

Support for Scottish Synergy Salon

October 26, 2011

Feel free to let us know if you support this idea.  There is no need to submit a formal statement of support or have your photograph or job title displayed. If you simply want your name listed below then please simply email Eric and make this clear in your email. We would also prefer to display the name of the district, town, city or region in which you live.

  • Jacqui Kilburn, Volunteer Manager, Edinburgh

New development: Scottish Synergy Salon

October 20, 2011

While there was considerable enthusiasm for the CPG idea outwith the Parliament, MSPs were reluctant to support it.  (A major factor is that the small size of opposition parties means that their MSPs are stretched very thin.)

Consequently, we have been thinking that an extra-parliamentary grouping, to brainstorm new ways of thinking, might be more profitable.  We have no fixed idea of how such a group might evolve, but the idea ultimately would be to find a means of reshaping politics in line with the ideas expressed on the CPG campaign website.  Meetings will involve relaxed discussions over lunch with no more than eight people present to allow all attendees to participate equally.  We aim to have a diverse group of people from various walks of life at every gathering.

The inaugural meeting  was held in Edinburgh on Sunday 23 October 2011.  Attendees included David Erdal, author of Beyond the Corporation, Humanity Working, and Mary Sharpe of Sharpe Thinking and Courting Disasters.

Attendance at the initial event was by invitation only, but in the future we may be holding regular themed meetings open to potential attendees on a first-come, first-served basis, with some advertised guests.  These may take place in other parts of Scotland.  The outcomes of meetings will be published on this website.  Watch this space for details!

Important and relevant information re revising National Performance Framework

August 31, 2011
Revising Scotland’s National Performance Framework.Briefing from Friends of the Earth Scotland, WWF Scotland, Oxfam Scotland.

Revising Scotland’s National Performance Framework.

I have just received this highly relevant and important message from Beth Stratford, Sustainable Economics Campaigner for Friends of the Earth Scotland.  I would be grateful if all supporters of the campaign read the message below and the briefing it refers to and considered adding their support by 9 September, as requested below.

Hi Eric,

As you might have gathered Scottish Government is currently ‘refreshing’ its National Performance Framework (http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2007/11/13092240/9 ).

While there are not plans for any public consultation to inform this process of revision, we feel the NPF is too important a document not to take account of thoughts, views and suggestions from outside government.

More than that, we want to use this opportunity to put pressure on government departments and policy makers to recognise that economic growth is only a means to an end, and that Scotland’s ability to flourish is underpinned by a much broader range of factors, including wealth distribution and environmental quality.

To this end, WWF, Friends of the Earth Scotland and Oxfam have prepared this briefing for MSPs and government officials, setting out some key concerns with the NPF’s current (narrow) focus on economic targets and indicators and suggesting some ways in which it could be improved.

We will be collecting signatories over the next couple of weeks, and aiming to have the briefing ready to send to MSPs in their second week back after recess.

If you could forward this on to organisations that might be interested in signing the briefing we’d be delighted.  Anyone interested in signing up needs to let me (bstratford@foe-scotland.org.uk) know by COB Friday the 9th of September.

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact myself, Dan or Katherine (all of our contact details are at the bottom of the briefing).

Many thanks!

Beth

Letter in Scotsman

July 7, 2011
This letter mentioning the campaign was published in the Scotsman on 7 July 2011.

This letter mentioning the campaign was published in the Scotsman on 7 July 2011.

I am pleased to report that a letter I wrote mentioning the campaign has been published in the Scotsman.  The letter refers to an article by Lesley Riddoch on community land buy-outsBeyond the Corporation, Humanity Working, a book by David Erdal on the virtues of employee-owned companies, and The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better by Professors Wilkinson and Pickett.

You can click on the link above to read my letter on the Scotsman website, but I also reproduce it below for your convenience.

R. Eric Swanepoel
Campaign Coordinator

Letter: New prosperity
Published Date: 07 July 2011

I concur with everything Lesley Riddoch said in her excellent article, “Back to the land for a lesson in sustainable living”  (Perspective, 4 July), but would make the point that the arguments she makes for the long-term benefits to society and the public purse from tax support for community buy-outs in rural areas would apply equally to employee buy-outs of private companies.

This is explained by David Erdal in Beyond the Corporation, Humanity Working. Communities in which a high proportion of the population worked for employee-owned concerns evinced all the positive characteristics of more equal societies identified by Professors Wilkinson and Pickett in The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better.

Compared with communities with a low proportion of people working for such concerns, their members lived a lot longer (explained by a lower rate of cardiovascular problems due to lower stress).

They enjoyed larger and more supportive social networks, they saw political authorities as being more on their side, they believed that domestic violence was less prevalent, they gave more blood, their children stayed at school longer and did better, to a far greater extent they continued being trained and educated all their lives, and more of them voted. Most interestingly, they didn’t bother buying big cars to show off their wealth, despite having higher disposable incomes. We should get off the miserable treadmill of planet-destroying, status-driven consumerism which drives so many families to be the “hard-working” variety beloved of certain politicians.

It is this sort of “joined-up” approach to policy that the Campaign for a Cross-Party Group on Real Prosperity and Joined-Up Thinking seeks to encourage in the Scottish Parliament.

Perhaps we do not need a new cross-party group (CPG) to do this. It might be sufficient if we were to catalyse joint meetings between CPGs to look at how co-ordinated, evidence-based policies can generate meaningful prosperity for the people of Scotland.

Tax concessions for community- and employee-buy-outs would undoubtedly contribute to this prosperity.

(Dr) R Eric Swanepoel

Campaign for a Cross-Party Group on Real Prosperity and Joined-Up Thinking

An evolving idea – your opinion, please!

June 30, 2011
Patrick Harvie MSP

Patrick Harvie MSP has suggested another way of furthering our aims.

This morning (30 June) I had a meeting with Patrick Harvie MSP, Co-Convenor of the Scottish Green Party, to discuss the Cross-Party Group (CPG) idea.  (He is the first MSP to invite a representative of the campaign to discuss it.)

He said that that the logistics involved in setting up a new CPG would be a significant deterrent to MSPs, and that a CPG might not be the most effective vehicle for furthering our aims.  He suggested that it might be better to form a coalition of MSPs and organisations and organise a couple of high-profile conferences.  This idea could be developed over the summer recess.

I would be interested in your opinion.   Please email me or post a comment on this site.

Thank you!

Eric

(R. Eric Swanepoel, Campaign Organiser)

Additional supporters of CPG Campaign

June 15, 2011

This is now historic, as we have now set up a Scottish Synergy Salon.

Supporters listed in alphabetic order of their surnames:

Latest news

June 11, 2011
  • 31 August 2011. Posted a briefing from Friends of the Earth Scotland, WWF Scotland and Oxfam Scotland on revision of the National Performance Framework.
  • 23 June 2011.  Meeting now arranged with one MSP.  Heard from another – too busy to join but have asked him to pass the information to his party colleagues.   Opposition MSPs, as they are fewer of them to represent their parties in the various CPGs and committees after the election, are under great time pressure.  These points must be emphasised:

*The idea is not to burden MSPs with yet another Cross-Party Group to attend.  Rather it is, whenever possible, to bring various CPGs together on issues of common interest.
*If properly co-ordinated, this should reduce the total number of CPG meetings.  We must encourage them to focus on fundamental underlying issues, not on relatively trivial narrow ones.

  • 21 June 2011.  Response received from two MSPs so far.  One is passing it on to party colleagues, as requested. The other has offered a meeting to discuss the idea. Another significant offer of support received.  Will be meeting later in the day to discuss how this person’s support will be signalled.
  • 18 June 2011. Malak Hamdan, President of the Cancer and Birth Defects Foundation has requested that she be listed as a supporter.  Finished implementing recommendations received on 17 June for the improvement of the site.  The banner should be more readable and the campaign’s purpose more immediately apparent.  Comments welcomed.
  • 15 June 2011. Made it clear to people that they don’t need to have their photographs displayed or submit a statement if they wish to support the campaign.  Added photographs of Julia McGregor and myself (co-originators of this campaign) to the Overview section.
  • 10 June 2011.  The campaign was introduced to several attendees at the Oxfam Humankind Index event at the Scottish Parliament and positive feedback and promises of support were received.  Thanks to Dr Katherine Trebeck of Oxfam Scotland for permission to network at this event.
  • 9 June 2011.  Campaign launched, website established and first emails requesting support sent out.

Additional statements of support

June 11, 2011

Here are statements of support received after the campaign’s official launch on 9 June.  This page will be regularly updated and statements added in the alphabetical order of their contributors’ surnames. Click on the pictures to visit contributors’ sites.  Contribute a statement.

Julia Harrison, Parliamentary Officer of RSPB Scotland.

Julia Harrison, Parliamentary Officer of RSPB Scotland, has contributed a statement of support, along with RSPB Scotland's Head of Conservation Policy, Lloyd Austin.

Lloyd Austin, Head of Conservation Policy, and Julia Harrison, Parliamentary Officer, of RSPB Scotland

“We should seek to improve the quality of life for all, not just the material wealth of a few to the detriment of the natural environment. We support this CPG as a mechanism for discussion of how to move forwards on this crucial issue for Scotland.”

The present global financial crisis is causing huge difficulties for us all. However, it should also raise questions about why we have not managed to achieve economic stability.  It is no coincidence that we are the midst of both an economic and environmental crisis, having pursued unsustainable practices with regard to both. RSPB Scotland believes that a move towards a more sustainable economy would be aided by the development and implementation of Sustainable Development Indicators, including measures of social well-being and environmental sustainability, to complement the traditional, but limited measure, of GDP. We have reached the stage of human development where GDP is becoming a hindrance to progress rather than a help, and indeed threatens our long-term future.  RSPB Scotland supports the recommendations of the Carnegie Trust report ‘More than GDP: measuring what matters’ including the use of a wider set of indicators in the Scottish Government’s National Performance Framework, and further discussion on this issue is timely. We should seek to improve the quality of life for all, not just the material wealth of a few to the detriment of the natural environment. We support this CPG as a mechanism for discussion of how to move forwards on this crucial issue for Scotland.

Patricia Cleghorn, author, broadcaster and Principal of Orchid

Patricia Cleghorn, author, broadcaster and Principal of Orchid

Patricia Cleghorn, author, broadcaster and Principal of Orchid

“…will help engender the confidence, determination and inspiration needed to ensure lasting prosperity, well-being and purposeful living”

The challenges facing Scotland and her people are too important to be left to any one party, on what may be a temporary basis. Both continuity and immediate practical action are necessary. These will help engender the confidence, determination and inspiration needed to ensure lasting prosperity, well-being and purposeful living, for people in all sectors of society. The people of Scotland deserve no less! I strongly recommend that this cross-party group is established at the earliest opportunity.

Dr Richard Dixon, Director of WWF Scotland

Dr Richard Dixon, Director of WWF Scotland

Dr Richard Dixon, Director of WWF Scotland

“…the new Cross-Party Group can stimulate an intelligent debate – and produce real recommendations for Government – on delivering not just GDP, but a broader spectrum of environmental and social benefits”

Our economic system has an important role to play in securing a future where we live within environmental limits.  While GDP is a useful indicator of economic activity, it also measures and reflects expenditure associated with things we would rather avoid e.g. the clean-up cost after an oil spill, the cost of ill-health or a high crime rate.  The Gulf of Mexico oil the livelihoods of many fishing communities. The debate about real prosperity should be a debate about our impact on the world around us, our wellbeing and the quality of our social fabric. We hope that the new Cross-Party Group can stimulate an intelligent debate – and produce real recommendations for Government – on delivering not just GDP, but a broader spectrum of environmental and social benefits.

Cath Ferguson, Glasgow

“The accounting we use accounts only for bits of paper and numbers on a screen. It takes no account of the social or environmental costs of decisions.”

I totally support the cross-party group you’re asking for. Too often we seem to be trying to patch up gaping holes in the system, and the patches only make it worse and ever more complex. There are a whole range of issues that now seem to be converging – inequalities in both poverty and health, a crisis in affordable housing, a crisis in finance and the kind of debt/over consumption model of our economy. And a crisis in the previously cheap fuel that drives such an economy, but also adds to climate change. This convergence gives a great window of opportunity to look critically at the best way forward.

The accounting we use accounts only for bits of paper and numbers on a screen. It takes no account of the social or environmental costs of decisions. Hence we end up with the warped GDP measure that is too often measuring misery but labelling it as “good” because it’s made someone money somewhere.

A cross-party group on joined up thinking that could take a broad overview and look at ways of potential ways of addressing this would be very welcome.

Colin Gajewski, Edinburgh resident

“…essential that efforts are made to draw all political parties and community groups together across any political or ideological divide”

As an ordinary member of the public, I heartily support this initiative. I see it as essential in our current circumstances, that efforts are made to draw all political parties and community groups together across any political or ideological divide.

Pat Kane, writer, musician, consultant and activist

Pat Kane, writer, musician, consultant and activist

Pat Kane, writer, musician, consultant and activist

“I support this group as an attempt to join up the dots across many areas of Scottish policy.”

The best contemporary social science (see Wilkinson and Pickett’s The Spirit Level, or Christiakis’s Connected) is making it extremely clear that enduring inequality badly affects all members of a society, tight across the classes, and in very physical ways – particularly in terms of mental and physical health. We know this only too well in Scotland, given the often extremely polarised health statistics in our major cities. I support this group as an attempt to join up the dots across many areas of Scottish policy, and I hope it will be the cause of much provocation and thought among our MSPs.

Liz Law, Mediator and Conflict Resolution Practitioner

Liz Law, Mediator and Conflict Resolution Practitioner

Liz Law, Mediator and Conflict Resolution Practitioner

“I would like to see a Cross-Party Group work towards a narrative that Real Prosperity is within everyone’s reach and not dependent on material goods alone.”

As a Scot in the middle years of my life I am exhausted by the social pressure I feel to prove financial prosperity as a form of legitimacy. The reality is that contributing to society as a member of my local area, as an employed person, as a volunteer and within loving relationships gives me a sense of Real Prosperity. It seems that financial prosperity is somehow about jumping the queue.

I work in areas of the city that are not picturesque with people who are struggling to live full lives within the means available to them. Sadly this is constantly undermined by marketing, suggesting that a life without the current object of desire is a loser’s life. I would like to see a Cross-Party Group work towards a narrative that Real Prosperity is within everyone’s reach and not dependent on material goods alone. This is the way to a confident and healthy Scotland.

Stewart Murdoch, Director of Leisure & Communities, Dundee City Council

Stewart Murdoch, Director of Leisure & Communities, Dundee City Council

Stewart Murdoch, Director of Leisure & Communities, Dundee City Council

“…we need to develop new measures and new approaches if the goal of social and environmental sustainability is to be achieved”

I write to confirm my personal support for the proposal that there should be a cross-party group established as a forum for debate on the part of those who share a commitment to ensuring that Scotland’s future is socially and environmentally sustainable and prosperous.
I have had the privilege of being associated with work taken forward by the Carnegie UK Trust, “Measuring What Matters”; Oxfam’s Humankind Index; and a study carried out by the International Association for Community Development on “Appreciating Assets”.  This experience, and the findings of these various studies and reports, taken together with the work carried out by the new Economics Foundation, convinced me that we need to develop new measures and new approaches if the goal of social and environmental sustainability is to be achieved.
Janine Rennie, Chief Executive of Open Secret

Janine Rennie, Chief Executive of Open Secret

Janine Rennie, Chief Executive of Open Secret

“…substance misuse problems alone cost billions. A joined-up approach is needed to look at the root causes and the consider the human rights of individuals to have a life free of pain and distress.”

In my view we take a plaster-on-the-wound approach in society rather than tackling the root causes for the levels of deprivation. Open Secret works in the prisons in Scotland and the clients we work with have come from a history of sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse and neglect. They live in poverty and have issues of homelessness and inability to find work. In the criminal justice system generations of families are in the system. Add to that the fact that many have been in care and have experienced abuse in care. This leads to severe and enduring mental and physical health problems. Many have issues with substance misuse. The cost to the NHS, benefits system, cost of someone being in prison etc. are huge. For example, substance misuse problems alone cost billions. A joined-up approach is needed to look at the root causes and the consider the human rights of individuals to have a life free of pain and distress.

Dr Rossella Riccobono, University of St Andrews

Dr Rossella Riccobono, University of St Andrews

Dr Rossella M. Riccobono, Lecturer in Italian, School of Modern Languages, University of St Andrews

“…a society strongly based on community is the only way forward to secure prosperity and motivation for all its members”

This is an important and visionary initiative.  I support it not only because I believe that a society strongly based on community is the only way forward to secure prosperity and motivation for all its members, but also because fundamentally joined-up thinking, collective awareness and vision are instruments for real change which can empower all of us. I am happy to add my name as an active future member of what I trust will be a highly influential group.

 Beth Stratford, Energy and Finance Campaigner, Friends of the Earth Scotland

Beth Stratford, Energy and Finance Campaigner, Friends of the Earth Scotland

Beth Stratford, Energy and Finance Campaigner, Friends of the Earth Scotland

“…this Cross Party Group could play a significant role in redirecting our policy makers’ attention towards the things that matter – like wellbeing, solidarity and the health of the ecological system which sustains us all.”

It is no longer controversial to acknowledge that GDP is a misleading and inadequate measure of societal progress, telling us little, for instance, about our vulnerability to financial crisis, the inequalities of opportunity facing our young people, the health of our community life and the ecosystems upon which we depend. It is these sort of problems which really threaten Scotland’s long term prosperity, and which call for a coherent, joined up response. Friends of the Earth Scotland believes this Cross Party Group could play a significant role in redirecting our policy makers’ attention towards the things that matter – like wellbeing, solidarity and the health of the ecological system which sustains us all.

Kevin Williamson, author, and co-editor of Bella Caledonia

Kevin Williamson, author, and co-editor of Bella Caledonia

Kevin Williamson, Author, and Co-Editor of the online journal, Bella Caledonia

“…we have a golden opportunity to refocus and rebuild our communities”

The real wealth of a society can be measured in the strength and cohesion of its local communities.  By any social indicators we care to examine, our communities are not in good health and this is adversely affecting the next generation of young Scots.  But we have a golden opportunity to refocus and rebuild them so let’s grasp the opportunity with both hands.

Contact

June 9, 2011

Comments may be posted directly on this site, but you may also send queries, notices of support, statements of support and suggested links to the campaign co-ordinator, Dr R. Eric Swanepoel:  EricN4C(at)gmail.com.

 (Replace (at) with @ – the address has been written as above to prevent spam.)