The Travelling Cabinet 50 Stirling

The Scottish National Party gained power at the 2007 Scottish Parliament election forming a minority government. In the 2011 Parliament election, they formed Holyrood's first majority government. After the 2016 Parliament elections, they entered their third consecutive term as Scotland's Devolved Government.

In a number of area's, the SNP take a different approach to the Westminster model of governance and this can be seen in practice by the subject of this article.

In 2008, the First Minister at that time (Alex Salmond) embarked on a new program of engagement with Scotland's electorate. This involved the First Minister and around a dozen Cabinet Members attending an event where they would answer any questions put to them by members of the Public. These events were characterised as the "Travelling Cabinet".

The accompanying video was recorded on 7th August 2019 and was the 50th such event since that first meeting took place back in 2008.

These events have been held from the Nothern Isles to the Borders, from the Western Isles to the East coast (and almost everywhere in between).

Members of the public are encouraged to ask any questions they like. Their questions can be about local issues, national issues or global in nature. The audience are a random selection from the local area and their questions are completely unknown to the speakers ahead of time. The Q&A session lasts for around 90 minutes and is followed by a further session where the speakers and the audience can continue with their engagement over a cuppa and a slice of cake.

The Travelling Cabinet has been a valuable tool in adressing the many, many issues that are important to Scots all over our nation. It informs the public on the ambitions and progress of Government policy and also enables the Government to learn about key issues and concerns that really matter to the citizens they represent.

This is how we do politics in Scotland.

Nation 3 Norway: the twin nation

The third in a series of films with Lesley Riddoch exploring Scotland's inspiring northern European neighbours and what we can learn.

The Norway film tells the story of Scotland’s twin nation. We have the same population, share the oil, gas and fishing resources of the North Sea and have similar geography.

Over the last 200 years Norway has withdrawn from a Union with first Denmark and then Sweden. It has invested its oil wealth wisely while Margaret Thatcher squandered ours.

This much we already know, but did you know Norwegians have chosen to continue paying some of the highest personal taxes in the world to stabilise their oil-based economy – using the oil fund only to top up budgets not underpin them?

Did you know hydro was the first big energy revolution, made possible because Norway had no feudal landowners blocking the development of free energy for all?

Perhaps most importantly – did you know the widespread ownership of land in the 19th century meant Norway created one of the world’s widest electorates and therefore one of its most egalitarian parliaments?

These democratic achievements underpin Norway’s success every bit as much as independence - and raise hopes and tough questions about Scotland’s future. Can we hope to use renewables to match the incredible achievements of our twin nation?

The Spider's Web: Britain's Second Empire

The British Empire was the largest the world has ever seen.

As the sun began to set on this imperial goliath, City of London financial interests created a network of secrecy jurisdictions that captured wealth from across the globe and hid it in a web of offshore islands. Today, up to half of all global offshore wealth is hidden in British jurisdictions and Britain and its dependencies are the largest global players in the world of international finance.

The off-shore destinations for this movement of money are commonly referred to as "Tax Havens".

What do we really know about tax havens?

This documentary (substantially inspired by Nicolas Shaxson's book Treasure Islands) describes the history of this financial practice, where Tax Havens are, how they work and why they are so rife with secrecy, corruption and intimidation.

You can read an extract from the book here: The Guardian - The Truth about Tax Havens

The second in a series of films with Lesley Riddoch exploring Scotland's inspiring northern European neighbours and what we can learn.

Despite being a sub-arctic island pulsating with potentially catastrophic volcanoes, Iceland's population (334,000 or Aberdeen and Dundee combined) has managed to become one of the most successful societies on earth.

To understand the Icelander's attitude to risk and creating a positive from the bleakest situation means understanding the volcanic landscape that has shaped this nation and its fortunes. We look at how Iceland has harnessed the power beneath their feet, created a successful media industry by exploiting its lunar setting, how the land has shaped the island's politics and more.

The seismic global crash (and subsequent volcanic explosion) could have brought Iceland to its knees but, in fact, regenerated the country - empowering it to become a globally recognised, more sustainable, politically engaged nation with a future that looks brighter than ever.

Iceland certainly puts any doubts about Scotland's huge potential in perspective as the UK and Europe's political tectonic plates continue to shift.

Created by Lesley Riddoch and Phantom Power Films.

Nation 1: The Faroe Islands

The first in a series of films with Lesley Riddoch exploring Scotland's inspiring northern European neighbours and what we can learn.

Despite being a remote cluster of islands with a population of just 50 thousand people (1% of Scotland's population) the Faroe Islands certainly don't think small.

The Faroes took on global giant Google to protect their language and identity and have also created the world's fastest mobile broadband (a reserved issue in Scotland). The key factor in these success stories has been the Faroes Parliament: without doubt, the world's most powerful devolved parliament.

This wee nation relies heavily on fish which represents around 95% of exports but life in the Faroes is changing. A new generation, enthused by a proximity to political power, are shaping these traditionally conservative islands into a progressive society that more and more Faroese want to live in. The Faroes is also finding itself at the centre of things as the Arctic presents new opportunities.

The Faroese community connects in all kinds of ways - through tunnels that join the separate islands, by air to the rest of the world with its own national airline and is reconnecting with nature to create world-class food. There's a lot to reflect upon about the future of the Faroes and Scotland but the ultimate connection is clear: with power comes the confidence to build a better nation.

Created by Lesley Riddoch and Phantom Power Films.