Future Choices for Scotland


The challenge

New powers have come to the Scottish Parliament.  The SNP government is running out of steam and tied up in obsession with independence. There is a desperate need for a radical look at how to make the Parliament and its powers work to change a Scotland that has been hit by years of austerity and decades of growing inequality.

And now we have the prospect of Brexit.

Brexit exposes fault lines in our society and in what people expect from politics and government. It creates threats to our economy and social relations. But it may also bring not yet fully understood changes to the powers of the Scottish Parliament, to the rules and funds governing regeneration, agriculture, competition and many other policy areas, and to our human rights. We need to plot a course, to take a clear look at where we are heading and find ways in which we can continue to put forward a radical agenda of practical policies.

Many of us see all too clearly that there are dangers in store. But it is essential for social democratic politics that we do not only identify and expose these, and do not only debate the constitutional settlement for Scotland, the UK and the EU, important as these tasks are,

Above all, we must investigate how to use the powers of the Scottish Parliament, and all other levels of government, to make this country a better place: for working people, to promote equality and human rights, to defend those who need it most, to protect the environment and develop and to secure a sustainable economic future.

This Project

Scottish Fabians asked members and sympathisers in a variety of fields of practice and study to think about the implications of Brexit, directly or indirectly, and set out some of the choices that we now face.

Keir Starmer, UK Labour’s shadow Brexit spokesperson, helped us launch the project with this speech on the challenges of Brexit and what it means for Scotland.   In The Grown ups in the Room Peter Russell writes his response to Keir’s speech.

All the contributions will be available via this page. We also hope to offer opportunities to meet with our contributors and others to discuss the implications of these ideas and proposals.


Firstly, we have four pieces which all in different ways reflect on the implications of the widespread rejection of current political solutions coupled with a desire for ‘more control’ that the Brexit vote seems to demonstrate.

  • In Finding our Place Trevor Howard argues that people ‘see their communities changing around them and don’t remember agreeing to that change’. He looks at a wide range of sources of economic, social and political insecurity.
  • Alistair Grimes argues that, when seeking to achieve social and economic Regeneration, we always have to deal with radical uncertainties, which are compounded by Brexit. He looks at the kinds of approaches that  do and do not work.
  • Writing on Community Empowerment and Local Democracy Peter Taylor looks at the need for people to have the opportunity for practical experience of participation. He argues that whilst action to strengthen direct involvement at community level is essential, this should not, as the Scottish Government seems set to propose, be at the expense of strengthening and renewing local government.

All three, beginning from different perspectives, conclude that much of the answer must be to start at a local level and offer people the chance of direct involvement in solutions.

Moving on to some of the many fields of policy affected by Brexit:


  • Jillian Merchant looks at Employment Rights
  • Catriona Munro looks at the implications of the Incorporation of EU law in Scotland




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