Monday, 9 November 2009

Educational Activity of the Day

Tonight I attended a lecture given by Michael Russell, a Scottish MSP (member of the Scottish Parliament) and their minister for Culture, External Affairs and the Constitution (long title!). The talk was given by UCL's prestigious Constitution Unit, which lies in my department. It was a really really interesting talk, I would say the most interesting part was the question and answer session after Russell finished his talk. I kind of felt really important because I was sitting in a room with government officials from both the UK and Scottish governments (there was also a guy from the Quebec government) as well as very smart academics from UCL, Oxford, LSE and University of Edinburgh.

Scottish Independence is a really interesting debate that I still am not sure about. It seemed that the general consensus in the room (at least amongst the smart academics) that it's not going to happen. Yet, I think the point that Russell most hit home was his belief that Scotland has the right to consider independence. Whilst he clearly believes and hopes for an independent Scotland, Russell constantly stressed the importance and indeed the democratic right for Scotland to seriously consider and debate independence within Scotland. He also was firmly against a double referendum, which would basically allow Scotland to try independence and then have the option to return to the UK if it doesn't work. I think I can see Russell's point on not liking this, I mean it makes sense, but if you're going to go for independence I think it should be a permanent decision.

I really know so little on this topic, so I'm sorry if none of this makes sense. And while I can semi-understand the Scottish desire for independence and a voice of its own in the EU, it's pretty crazy to think of it actually happening. They handed out a pamphlet when we left (I skipped out on the wine afterwards, it would have been awkward) on the The Scottish Government Response to the Recommendations of the Commission on Scottish Devolution and I look forward to reading it!

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