Book Preview: Blossom – what Scotland needs to flourish (Lesley Riddoch)
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Blossom is Lesley Riddoch’s account of Scotland at the grassroots through the stories of the most stubborn, talented and resilient people on the planet. They’ve had to be. Some have transformed their parts of Scotland. Some have tried and failed. But all have something in common – they know what it takes for Scotland to blossom.
Blossom pinpoints both the buds of growth and the blight that’s holding Scotland back. Drawing from its people and history as well as the experience of the Nordic countries, and the author’s own passionate and outspoken perspective, this is an inspiring and incisive call to restore equality and control to local communities and let Scotland flourish. It is as an explanation of the persisting disempowerment and inequality in Scottish society that it is at its best.
• Scottish Identity – we have natural resources and a distinct culture and identity – and self-doubt
• The Scottish effect – inequality kills: deprivation, housing, poverty, unemployment, violence
• Our homes are not our castles – renting overcrowded (council) flats
• Tenements and the miracle of sharing space – the benefits of high-density housing
• Land, land everywhere but not an inch for sale – the obscene level of concentration of ownership
• Scotland’s natural assets – look, but don’t touch. Our feudal land system has only just ended.
• Supersized councils lead to disempowered local communities
• Language – many mither tongues – we should be more comfortable with our Scots language
• Women – harpies or quines – we still have a way to go on gender equality
• Whose culture is it anyway? It’s ours, and we need to support and cultivate it
• Scotland’s year of living dangerously – anything is now possible
• What Scotland needs to blossom – our little white rose can survive and prosper
Wee White Blossom was published after the Referendum, and also covers
• Radical Scotland meets the Smith Commission – did the Commission reflect the high hopes? No.
• Land, land everywhere and soon an inch for sale – some progress on Land Reform
• Women – the real Indyref winners – women at the heart of Scottish public life
Not every problem in Scotland can explained away by London mismanagement. A change of constitutional control is not enough to transform Scotland. Empowerment of all Scots is the only solution to the Scottish Effect, the Scottish Cringe, the Sick Man of Europe, No Mean City and the Empty Glen. The desire for positive change is still there, and we appear to have passed the tipping point. One year of living dangerously – daring to trust, organize, connect and cooperate – has proved habit-forming for Scots who once hid behind a protective mask of cynical detachment. Many old sources of unimpeachable authority (including the BBC) are badly holed beneath the waterline. Democratic participation is at an all-time high. Land Reform is on the cards. Community control is on the agenda. Women are powerful players in Scottish society. Empathy has flourished. Scots demanding a more equal, radical, grassroots-based and active society became the change they wanted to see. Trust in themselves, and in government, has allowed Nordic people to be much bolder – and the results show in their productivity, wellbeing, health and GDP.
We are a nation of people accustomed to bad treatment and inequality. The Scottish Referendum campaign proved that Scots can mobilise. Bystanders have become organisers, followers have become leaders, politics has become creative, women have become assertive, men have learned to facilitate not dominate. Independent action and self-reliance have helped create a “can-do” approach shared by almost everyone active in Scotland today. Long may it continue!