Ruchir Shah: Scotland has just been given a shortcut to the global spotlight


Ruchir Shah, head of policy at the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) says it's vital to understand how important local decision making is

IT'S all about trust. Do you have confidence in the way your country is run? We know, as aptly demonstrated during the Brexit referendum, that trust in government and government institutions is at an all-time low. 

All this comes at the same time as people are getting their information more directly from social media, from each other but in increasingly tighter circles.
Note Brexit, Corbyn, indyref 2, Trump, xenophobia and the rise of populism. We are moving into a more polarised society, where people flock to extreme world views in the political spectrum as they seek answers to everyday challenges of jobs, housing, health and care. Politicians, and by extension governments, they say, have failed them.

Read more – Ben Simmons: What is 'Open Government' and why should we care?

So how can we restore trust? One big idea is that governments that open themselves up more to transparency, accountability and public participation will not only deliver better outcomes for people, but build greater trust in how government works.
Here’s why: When the UN launched its grand Sustainable Development Goals project everyone realised that meeting these goals meant making government institutions a heck of a lot more transparent and open to people. So, this is now built in to the goals.
Meanwhile, the Scottish Government, UK Government and 70 countries around the world have committed to putting together practical action plans to open up their governments. The key thing about this Open Government Partnership is the governments involved can't commit to action unless they work with citizens in designing them. 

But both the UN and the Open Government Partnership have realised that most government action these days actually takes place below the nation state level.

Read more – Ben Simmons: Lessons from the NHS for the future of Open Government

Incredibly, Scotland is one of 15 places around the world which has been chosen by the international partnership to showcase real innovation in open government and transparency. Scotland has just been given a shortcut to the global spotlight. 

It would be not only a massive missed opportunity to not come up with a genuinely pioneering plan, it will be a little embarrassing if what we take forward is weak, watered down and predictable. So people, what does radical open government look like? This is your chance to speak up and people are actually listening this time.
Participating in this reinvention of democracy means engaging with others at events which will be taking place in the coming months, and joining the conversation at

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