Scotland Flowering Again?

I was at an interesting event last night in Seattle’s Rainier Club – the kick-off reception for Scotland Week, organized by Scottish Development International.

I don’t have much time for politicians; when I was a newspaperman back in Scotland I saw way too much of most of them. It didn’t seem like any of them really had the ideas – or even the will – to solve the problems of high unemployment, and everything else that goes with it, which is especially bad in the West of Scotland. When I visited Scotland briefly a few years ago, it seemed as if the Edinburgh area was prospering, but Glasgow and the West was still locked into a cycle of deprivation.

But last night I got a surprise. Speaking at the reception was Jim Mather, the new Minister for Enterprise, Energy and Tourism in the Scottish Government. In a real voting upset, the Scottish National Party achieved a one-vote majority a few months ago.

Jim sounded not only like he really knew what he was doing, but he also clearly had a lot of business and industry experience before becoming a politician. Political theories sound great, but unless ideas are founded on real-world knowledge IMO they’re doomed to failure.

The Scottish Government has only limited power, of course. The UK Government in London still holds the purse-strings.

But there’s no reason Scotland can’t be as prosperous as Ireland, which has undergone a transformation over the past decade. Or even more prosperous. It has a great education system, and many smart people with real drive.

I liked what I heard. Got a chance to speak to Jim later. Liked him even more.

I think there’s a good chance the Scots may actually pull this off.

I’ll be watching with interest over the next few years.


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