17 September 2015
One Year On
18 September marks a year on from the Scottish independence referendum. The United Kingdom held its breath as the people of Scotland queued in their droves at polling stations to decide whether they should be an independent country. It may have been a clear ‘No’, but the result was closer than expected. One opinion poll gave the Yes campaign a lead, causing last minute panic among the pro-union camp.
Regardless of what side you fell on, issues like social justice and currency union filled the bus-stop chatter and you’d be ashamed to not to have been well versed with stats on oil revenues and child poverty, as if discussing the price of milk.
This campaign inspired and encouraged many to think about what kind of nation they wanted to Scotland to be. Our contribution was to publish the highly successful booklet ‘What Kind of Nation?’ (http://www.eauk.org/scotland/what-kind-of-nation.cfm) This challenged the church to speak out about the values of wisdom, justice, compassion and integrity that make a healthy society.
And the enthusiasm didn’t evaporate on 19 September, as barely eight months later Scotland’s political make-up was changed as the SNP took almost all of Scotland’s seats in May’s general election. Overnight the map changed from Red to Bright Yellow giving the pollsters some solace as the one part of the UK they had predicted correctly.
However, the dust has yet to settle. There is a deep hunger for change from the status-quo. Both sides of the border, Labour have newly elected leaders, with Kezia Dugdale and Jeremy Corbyn at the helm, signalling a possible move to the left. And because the Yes movement is still alive and well, Labour’s challenge is to save a party that has lost its core support.
This is a great opportunity for church to ask itself what it means to be ‘salt and light’ in a post-Christian context. Hence, we’ve released a sequel, ‘What Kind of Church?’ (http://www.eauk.org/scotland/what-kind-of-church.cfm.)
Statistics from the recent Barna report Transforming Scotland (https://www.barna.org/barna-update/culture/730-scotland-lessons-for-effective-ministry-in-a-post-christian-context#.VfgmDvlViko) are a cause for optimism and concern. Just 5% of the population could be classed as evangelical Christians, whilst a significant number of the Scottish public think the church is a good thing for a community, because it strengthens and cares for those within it, and acts as a positive influence for young people.
Over the coming months we will be supporting efforts for the Human Trafficking Bill to reach its final stages, as well as contributing to the debate over the Land Reform proposals. All focus then turns towards the Scottish Parliament elections in May, where the expectations are that the SNP will repeat its success of the previous year. Under Sturgeon’s leadership, they’ve turned toward addressing educational attainment among the poorest since Scottish pupils from lower incomes are still less likely to go to university than their UK counterparts.
All this takes place with the ongoing discussions about a second independence referendum. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who had previously said the plebiscite was a ‘once in a generation’ event, is now outlining the criteria for another vote, although it’s also clear at the moment this is not the SNP’s preferred option. But up here we’ve learned to expect the unexpected. Things can change overnight.
Written by Rory Martin, Advocacy and Media Volunteer, Evangelical Alliance Scotland
Lessons for Effective Ministry in Scotland (Barna Survey) https://www.barna.org/barna-update/culture/730-scotland-lessons-for-effective-ministry-in-a-post-christian-context#.VfgmDvlViko