A Scottish Political Innovation?

When Mick Fealty calls asking for a favour it’s hard to say no. Not because he leans on you (which he doesn’t) but because you know that if he’s involved it’s going to be something vibrant, challenging and original.

And that’s exactly what the Edinburgh Political Innovation camp on Saturday was.

Billed as an ‘unconference’ it was a free-form opportunity for politically engaged folk to creatively address old – and new – political problems. I gave a short spiel on the role of bloggers in the Irish financial crisis (have a look at Robert Stewart‘s excellent video below), and enjoyed some really fecund discussions with a host of interesting folk including Scotsman columnist Joan McAlpine, writer, musician and activist Pat Kane, and Green blogger Peter McColl.

Political Innovation plenary session from Robert Stewart on Vimeo.

Event orgainsers Slugger O’Toole also have put up a summary of the day – and the resulting blog posts – on their site (which I promised Paul Evans I’d contribute more to).

As well as talking about the Irish economy and media, I was busy enlisting supporters, and ideas, for my campaign for spending increases. Commentators don’t come much more witty, intelligent and insightful than Pat Kane who had some excellent suggestions for viral videos as well as delivering a timely reminder of the need to encorporate environmental and social sustainability into any campaign for effective political change. Hopefully I’ll be posting more on this shortly.

Since the Political Innovation camp I’ve read with interest a call by James Masters, who works for Green MSPs Robin Harper and Patrick Harvie at Holyrood and spoke at the day’s plenary, for a cross-party politics event based on the annual Swedish summer conference at Almedalen. The Swedes’ model is a basically a political conference freed from all the partisan trappings where new ideas can be brought to the table and (hopefully) a much wider swath of the public involved.

Perhaps it doesn’t need to be a physical conference, as some have suggested, but could be hosted online instead to broaden participation. As someone who is easily put off by party political machines and their mega-conferences the Almedalen model certainly sounds great: new ideas, no political grandstanding, some decent debate, and maybe (just maybe) some Scottish sunshine.