Thursday, 7 April 2011

Ideas 51-55

51. All referendums should be preceded by prime time TV deliberations

Referendums are almost two centuries old and are imperfect, obsolete tools for a 21st century democracy. As Bruce Ackerman & James Fishkin noted

If an issue is important enough to warrant decision by the people as a whole, it is important enough to require a more deliberate approach to decision-making.

This is, of course, the well-known and successful deliberative polling that the authors have been using in democracies all around the world to better educate the electorate before a referendum.

To date I have saw nothing of this sort on the AV referendum, and given it is a vote on an electoral system the importance of democracy education cannot be understated. Indeed, what’s the point in asking people’s opinion on AV if they don’t know what it is?

The solution is simple: two weeks before the referendum screen three prime time TV deliberations (or local discussions at various community centres throughout the country) which will allow the electorate the opportunity to discuss and learn about the advantages and disadvantages of AV. Only then will we all be able to cast an informed vote in the referendum.

52. All funded sportsmen/women to be contracted to assist with school programmes

A simple yet inspiring way to engage our youngsters in an active lifestyle.

53. Schools should make more use of Scotland’s rich cultural, natural, geographical, scientific and historical resources for education.

Why doesn’t this already occur? For a start it would put less of a financial burden on parents who often have to fork out thousands on expensive, foreign school trips. But more than it, it would create more custom for Scottish businesses and establishments, more young people with first-hand knowledge of their own country, and a smaller carbon footprint.

These are significant benefits. The additional expenditure that might circulate through Scotland's economy would surely be enormous. Most young people have other opportunities to travel abroad that didn't exist when these foreign trips started.

Richard Heggie
Director of Urban Animation
RTPI’s UK Planning Consultant of the Year 2009

54. Prioritise NPF projects in National Capital Budget

55.Create a Presiding Officer's Commission on alcohol policy

The last four years in Holyrood have seen this issue becoming even more politicised at the expense of evidence based social policy. This can’t happen again.

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