Willie Sullivan's blog

12 Dec 2016

Local democracy in Scotland needs all of us

Here’s a fact for you: a quarter of Scots in a recent BMG poll for the ERS said they would rather finish the ironing than go and vote in a council election. While our commitment to neat clothing is commendable, disregard for local democracy is at once frightening and understandable. Why is it that local democracy – close to where we live, the communities, the towns and villages that we think of […]
11 Mar 2016

We closed a lobbying loophole

We’re welcoming a victory today in our campaign to make lobbying in Scotland more transparent. Yesterday we received a letter from the Scottish Minister for Parliamentary Business, Joe Fitzpatrick, stating that the Scottish Government will now amend the Lobbying (Scotland) Bill in line with our recommendations - ensuring the most important lobbying organisations will be covered by the Bill. We […]
10 Jul 2015

Time for a constitutional convention for the EU

The standoff between the European Union, the European Central Bank (ECB), and Greece is a crisis born at least partly from a problem with democracy. In the EU as at any other level we hope to be governed by consent. We expect those who rule us to do so with our collective permission. In this crisis the Greek people want one thing and the ECB and the EU want another. And while there is debate over […]
12 Jun 2015

What is the Scotland Bill?

The Scotland Bill was no surprise when it was announced in the Queens Speech. In the lead up to the Scottish independence referendum vote last September and following a particular cliff-edge poll , unionist parties became very worried that the pro-independence Yes campaign might just do it. Two days before the referendum, the leaders of the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat parties joined […]
18 Aug 2014

How to get excited about local government reform

Recent weeks have continued to see all sorts of handwringing and dark soothsaying about the state of representative democracy. Untrusted politicians, growing inequality and low election turnouts are just part of this sorry state. So what is to be done? A new report seems to point the way ahead for us here in Scotland. The Commission on Strengthening Local Democracy, set up by Convention of […]
12 Jun 2014

The dark and the light

Just when you think the behaviour of the referendum campaigns can’t get any worse, it does. We thought Alistair Darling’s Kim Jong-il comment was a new low in a relentless series of jibes and counter-jibes which have consistently lowered the tone of the most important national conversation in 300 years. And that followed the debate between Nicola Sturgeon and Johanna Lamont earlier in the year, […]
28 Aug 2013

Keep politics civil

Often when discussing the necessary culture and institutions required for democracy to flourish, the need for ‘civil society’ is extolled – that is, the networks of non-state organisations which are formed by people coming together to deliver services or to campaign for change. These civil society organisations are seen by many as vital to an open and plural politics. In Scotland at least , the […]
26 Jul 2013

A civil referendum

The chances of Scotland having a high-quality and inclusive debate about independence just got significantly higher. The Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) has given charities and voluntary organisations the green light to campaign during next year’s referendum, whether on the ‘yes’ side or the ‘no’ side . The only proviso is that their campaigning conforms with their charitable aims […]
14 Jun 2013

More pantomime than serious debate

Balanced and informative media is vital for a good democracy. The BBC's decision to invite controversial politicians to participate in a Question Time panel in Edinburgh and overlook two of Scotland's elected parties was greeted with astonishment across social media yesterday. ERS Scotland was particularly concerned that this decision failed the invited audience of 16 and 17 year olds. How the […]
22 May 2013

1.25: A small price to pay for a proper debate.

Today we've welcomed news that BBC Scotland is to set aside an extra £5 million for dedicated coverage of the 2014 Independence Referendum. We are now looking at a team of 50 tasked with providing coverage and encouraging debate at national and local level - and online. Over 4 million registered voters will make a decision on the future of their country in 2014 – and £1.25 per head seems a small […]