As promised, Dr Tapio Lappi-Seppälä has sent on a full copy of his slides which he used at the recent meeting of Nordic Horizons. They are full and comprehensive and and available here as "the Scotland 2012 Finnish prison reduction presentation ". As a reminder, you can listen to the presentation recording in real time by downloading the audio recording below. ( Tapio starts speaking about 7 minutes in ) . Download the "Finns can only get better" Podcast
Humza Yousaf MSP, the host introduced Dr Tapio Lappi-Seppälä, Director, National Research Institute of Legal Policy, Finland. Finland had one of the highest prison populations in western Europe until the 1970s. Since then, the imprisonment rate has fallen to the low Nordic average but crime rates have stayed the same. Today, Finland has 59 prisoners per 100,000 of population; Scotland has 153. Finnish reform began when academics in the 60s argued criminal policy should be part of social policy, with employment and educational opportunities, and they also pointed out there was no evidence of a link between long prison sentences and less crime. Politicians legislated to turn prison sentences into community alternatives. The Scottish Prisons Commission modell...Read More
Nordic Horizons event, Scottish Parliament, 29th March 2012 From Collapse to Constitution: The Case of Iceland Lesley Riddoch; Welcomes and intros. Professor Thorvalder Gylfason, economist, from Reykjavik (Thor) Christina McKelvie MSP, Convenor of European and External Affairs Committee, hosting. Welcomes everyone. Special welcome to the Ambassador and the consular guests.
We are grateful to to the Public Policy Network Citizens Participation Group for a copy of the notes from a meeting with Professor Thorvaldur Gylfason. You can download the document – ‘Iceland’s Pots and Pans Revolution – Some Background’ here.
Great meeting on March 29th in Parliament with Professor Thorvaldur Gylfason who won the highest number of votes in elections for the Commission to write Iceland’s “crowd sourced” constitution. The ICC had no elected politicians – now the Icelandic Parliament are chewing over the radical changes a referendum to approve the constitution will take place on the same day in June as Presidential elections ( boosting turnout) or later in the autumn. Thor said many memorable things during the event – not least that he thinks anyone wanting an independent Scotland should consider handing the task of creating a new Constitution for Scotland to the people and should start the process now. What follows is not the whole event but Thor’s full speech – a riveting 45 min...Read More
Over seventy people crammed into Committee Room One of the Scottish Parliament last Friday to listen to two experts in different elements of the Norwegian outdoor experience talk about their own approaches to it and what this could entail for Scotland. Delegates from the 2012 Nordic Research Network conference, hosted by the Scandinavian Studies section at the University of Edinburgh, and members of the public heard from literary scholar Dr Ellen Rees and outdoor educationalist Dr Ralf Westphal about different aspects of Norway’s famous tradition of friluftsliv (outdoor life). To continue reading – click here.
Lesley Riddoch, acclaimed Scottish journalist and commentator, visited the University of Oslo on 28 February to give a lecture on Scottish independence and Nordic linkages. The event was co-hosted by British Politics Society, Norway and the students’ union at the Department of Political Science. In front of a young academic audience, Riddoch emphasised the proximity between Scotland and the Nordic countries – geologically, historically and culturally – on the basis of which Scotland may be perceived as the southern tip of the Nordic region just as much as the northern tip of Britain. The relationship with Norway may have a particular relevance when seen against the latter’s short history as an independent nation and the many shared characteristics of the two countries, such as the extensiv...Read More
Iceland has made a steady recovery from the banking crash of 2008 which saw the country placed on the UK Terrorism Register. Slowly but surely this Nordic nation of just 300,000 people has been making sure such a crisis can never undermine the whole country again. It became clear that the 1944 Constitution (written when Iceland declared independence from Denmark), needed major revision. So a group of 25 ordinary folk was elected (from 550 self nominating volunteers) to rewrite the democratic rulebook. The Icelandic Economist Professor Thorvaldur Gylfason was involved from the outset and won the highest number of votes. The Icelandic Constitutional Council took 4 months to write the world’s newest Constitution with input by e-mail and social media (2/3s of Icelanders are on Facebook) and re...Read More
"The process of centralisation of governance has gone further in Scotland than in other countries. Highland Council, to take the most striking example, covers an area the size of Belgium with a population the size of Belfast. Councillors need to drive hundreds of thousands of miles a year to connect with fellow councillors and citizens in their council area. Despite such herculean efforts, many remote communities feel neglected and disenfranchised. That is “damaging democracy and economic development in Scotland,” writes Rob Gibson MSP in the introduction to ‘Small Works’. This consultation document proposes a major shake-up of the Highland Council, and Gibson has made the task his “personal priority” for this parliamentary session. “We have a situation in my constituency, where counc...Read More
The debate over whether powers should be decentralised in the Highlands came to the fore today, as Caithness Sutherland & Ross MSP, Rob Gibson, declared the return of power to communities his ‘personal priority’. Mr Gibson said that during this, his final term as an MSP, he would do everything he could to bring about greater decentralisation and local control in the Highlands. Mr Gibson made the announcement as he launched a new paper outlining basic arguments for decentralisation, entitled ‘Small Works’. Testing how to publish
I've been thinking we should have more debate between meetings of the Nordic Horizons group. (for more info see www.nordichorizons.org ) And maybe your responses can help us get the best focus for meetings currently being planned – and one is being planned about small nations culture. So here are some thoughts about the cultures of small northern Nordic nations– are they suffocatingly couthy or devastatingly dynamic? Every nation constructs an identity and Scotland and Norway are no exceptions. But for a Scot who has become used to seeing the distinctive culture of Scotland tucked away in corners as "alternative" or "traditional" it's been moving and massively thought-provoking to visit Norway and see the collective life experience of Norwegians take centre stag...Read More