VitalSpark: Coalition Blog

Posted: 04 March 2010, in Blog

Who or what do you trust, with what and how much? Do you understand the concept of social capital? Is national success partly defined by a limit to the role of the State in our personal lives? Is the road to Hell paved with good intentions?

I only ask because there’s a sair fecht at The National Trust for Scotland wi’ a’body in a fankle and the Scottish Establishment has decided that something must be done.

According to The Hootsman it’s all financial calamities, job losses and restructuring. We may also see a Parliamentary bill, a ‘Directorate’ to monitor the Board, constitutional change permitting the disposal of unique and (inter) nationally significant assets and the sharing of resources with Historic Scotland – an Executive Agency of the Scottish Govt. What future does Scottish Natural Heritage have?

 Meanwhile a grassroots membership of 310 000+ (is NTS a social enterprise?) are seriously scunnered. All that these folk probably want is a trusted custodian that is honest, efficient, engages/communicates with its members and supporters and continually achieves its conservation and environmental objectives for the common weal. That way, our pretty, important, significant and historical stuff is available for future generations of Scots and tourists. This is something that The National Trust (England, Wales and Northern Ireland) does rather well but it is seriously tactless to mention this. I do wonder what the NT business plan/model is and whether or not it is replicable.

George Reid, Sir Tom Farmer, Susan Deacon and the Duke of Buccleuch are charged with review and solutions. This is difficult. From a socially enterprising point of view I do hope they remember the role, power and purpose of markets. This is no time to go all ‘Braveheart’. They should also study-visit our English NT friends in Warrington.

However, Scotland being Scotland the provisional answer seems to be more public money for a rebranded and reconfigured ‘charity’ part funded (sic) by government – i.e. us. Why?

What is the role of our State in relation to culture, the arts and heritage? Is the future going to be a national form of Culture and Sport Glasgow e.g. a Charitable Trust with a subsidiary CIC running the business?

What about the employees, and the 310 000 members who independently organise, volunteer and create the social capital? Will the members put up with all this? Do they want to be wedded to the State?  I wonder what OSCR will say.

Anyway, Ronnie famously said “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help”. Mind you he also said “Trees cause more pollution than automobiles.”