Scotland’s independent think tank
Scotland’s independent think tank

Melting pot 2020

Something unusual happened to our Melting Pot blog in 2020. It’s always been a space for interesting thought and debate, but this year it became “a place to be seen”, as one senior political figure put it to me. More and more smart and engaged people began approaching us, asking to write. The impact spread across the mainstream media.

As a consequence we’ve had more content than ever before, and an array of excellent new contributors. There are so many good articles below, and I urge you to graze through them. Read as many as you can. You’ll learn a lot – I certainly did.

With apologies to the others, I’d like to single out a few of my favourites.

  • Paul Gray, the former chief executive of NHS Scotland, authored a fantastic piece, “We can’t go back to the way we were”, explaining how the health service has made a huge technological leap forward during the Covid crisis. This nimbleness and dynamism should be the new normal, said Gray. His article was widely read and the headline has become something of a slogan.
  • Former first minister Lord McConnell argued that “we must not fail the lockdown generation”, in a critique of the Scottish Government’s plan for post-lockdown part-time learning. His campaign helped persuade ministers to open schools full-time instead.
  • Ex-SNP MP and foreign policy expert Stephen Gethins explored whether there might be an opportunity for Remain-friendly Scotland to use its links with the EU to build new relationships even as the rest of the UK grows more distant.
  • As business clashed with the Scottish Government over its economic recovery plans, Karen Betts, CEO of the Scotch Whisky Association, wrote wisely on the need for a relationship reset and for greater effort on both sides.
  • Jenifer Johnston called for a national online curriculum with lessons broadcast daily on a website, to help home-schooling parents during lockdown. This began a debate in the mainstream media about the difficulties facing parents juggling work and schooling.
  • Deacon Blue frontman Ricky Ross, who has done a lot of work with overseas charities, described his concern at the merging of DfID with the Foreign Office and its potential impact on the world’s underprivileged.
  • Businessman Roy Leckie made the case that Scotland, with its long and deep links to Hong Kong, should provide a home for immigrants wishing to leave the troubled region. The Scottish Government agreed and has been in discussions with Mr Leckie.

In truth, I could have selected an entirely different set of equally strong articles. This speaks to the quality of the content, the expertise and passion of our contributors, and the role Reform Scotland plays at the heart of the national debate. I’ve been delighted by the flowering of our blog this year, and with a Holyrood election in 2021, as well as the challenges of Brexit and the aftermath of Covid, we fully intend to hit the ground running in the new year.

Happy reading!

Chris Deerin
Reform Scotland