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Politicians and the Professionals – Spring Series

At the start of 2014, Scotland is entering into a pivotal year. Whatever happens in the referendum there will be important questions that need to be answered and debates that need to be held in order to be able to understand where the future of Scotland may lie.

To this end the David Hume Institute (DHI) and the RSE Young Academy of Scotland (YAS) have worked in conjunction with a number of professional bodies to create this series of seminars to help better inform the public on these debates. Chaired by DHI director Jeremy Peat, each seminar brings a senior politician from one of the five parties represented at the Scottish Parliament to speak for 45 to 50 minutes about the ‘implications of constitutional change’. Each speaker chose his or her particular slant for their talk and took questions for a further 30 minutes.

Over a period of more than 25 years the David Hume Institute has established a reputation for excellence: for research and publications, the calibre of speakers we attract and the accessibility, relevance and integrity of our seminars and publications. DHI is forward-thinking organisation dedicated to stimulating and influencing thinking in key public policy areas. We are interested in Scottish policy issues, but also in the much broader contexts – British, European and global – within which Scots live and do business. With 28 years of experience in public policy we continue to forge partnerships with key parties from business and policy-making communities.

The role of the Young Academy of Scotland

Formed by the Royal Society of Edinburgh  in 2011 the Young Academy of Scotland (YAS) is currently made up of 117 members and draws on a broad range of leading talents from all areas of academia, business, third sector organisations and public life. Within its primary mission YAS aims to ‘address the most challenging issues facing society in Scotland and beyond.’ With a further emphasis on Knowledge, Employment, Young People and Health & Wellbeing, YAS looks to engage its diverse membership in these issues and address topical matters, such as Scottish constitutional reform.

The YAS’s working group on Scottish Constitutional Reform was brought together with the primary aim of helping its stakeholders, the YAS membership and their peers to access the key facts to enable them to make an informed choice on voting day. This group has worked hard to canvas the YAS membership and identify specific areas that are of interest to young professionals and academics to  bring together many of the questions that they feel are vital in informing their decisions on Scotland’s future.

In addition to this, YAS has also been working to involve and engage younger people in Scotland with these debates. In recognition of the fact that 16-17 year olds will be voting in this referendum, YAS has been engaging with various youth-led organisations, such as the Scottish Youth Parliament (SYP), to determine issues of importance to young people.

This process culminated in an open letter (p4-5) to all speakers in these events to try and encourage them to answer these important questions.

The reports in this booklet are from YAS’s neutral perspective. They sum up what was said by the speaker, the way in which they responded to the open letter and look to critically engage with these ideas and the way .

Finally, on 6th March a roundtable event will be held with representatives of all those who attended the events to wrap up the series. This shall result in a report assessing an overview of all the talks and the questions that are yet to be answered. In the meantime, please see the booklet below which has reports of all the talks in the series:



Below are the listings of the seminars in chronological order. Click on each one for reports, photos and press which have been generated in reponse to the events and find out more detail about the debates as they happen. After these events the David Hume Institute and the Young Academy of Scotland shall be collaborating on a summary exercise to draw together any conclusions from the series and also highlight any questions that still need asking. Watch this space for more information.

15 January – Nicola Sturgeon MSP (Deputy First Minister) – ‘A Choice between two futures – why it is better for all of us if decisions about Scotland are taken in Scotland’

22 January – Johann Lamont MSP (Leader Scottish Labour Party) – ‘The Optimism  of Politics’

30 January – Patrick Harvie MSP (Leader Scottish Green party) – ‘The Independence Referendum; and the Challenges and Opportunities for Creating a Sustainable Economy that Works for Everyone’

4 February – Willie Rennie MSP – ‘In Britian. In Europe. In Work’

13 February – Ruth Davidson MSP (Leader Scottish Conservative Party)

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