2014 Matters debate series launches in Edinburgh | World Development Movement

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2014 Matters debate series launches in Edinburgh

By Alys Mumford, 6 February 2014

2014 Matters launched last week. Alys Mumford, campaign director of Jubilee Scotland, took part in the evening and reports on a broad-ranging and thought-provoking discussion.

Students asking questions

photo credit Ric Lander)

The 2014 Matters series has kicked off with a challenging debate around immigration, foreign policy and human rights in Edinburgh. Around 100 people gathered to hear from expert speakers about some of the implications that Scottish independence or further devolution could have for these vital issues.

Iain Macwhirter, columnist for the Sunday Herald began by welcoming the opportunity the 2014 Matters programme was giving to move the debate on “from whisky and embassies, to what Scotland could be to the world”. He offered a vision of Scotland as a small nation wielding great power to set a global example of peace and cooperation, but warned that the SNP’s plans may not reflect this.

Next up was Dr. Kieran Oberman of Edinburgh University, who discussed the philosophical element of migration and asylum policy. Discussing the economic impacts of global immigration, he argued that fewer restrictions on migration was a key way to reduce global poverty, and that limiting migration limits all other human rights. He added an interesting element to the often discussed possibility of an independent Scotland emulating Nordic countries, by pointing out that Scandinavia has some of the tightest restrictions on immigration in the world!

Finally, we heard from John Wilkes, who talked about the brilliant work the Scottish Refugee Council has been doing to engage refugees around the referendum debate. We heard some shocking statistics about the plight of refugees (the equivalent of half of Scotland’s population – and half of these children – have crossed Syria’s borders), and were encouraged to fight for greater rights for refugees and asylum speakers in Scotland – regardless of where our Government was based.

Moving on to the debate, the experts were joined by John Finnie, MSP, representing the Yes Campaign, but unfortunately Mike Dailly of the Labour party was forced to withdraw due to illness.  The audience, and people contributing via twitter, asked questions ranging from the moral code which would underpin a new Scotland, discussions of a Scottish or UK constitution, EU membership, and doubts as to whether Scotland would be able ensure its security outside of the UK.

We hope you enjoyed the debate if you were able to make it, and if you weren’t there, check out #2014matters on twitter to get a taste of the evening.

For information about forthcoming 2014 Matters events click here.

To contribute your questions click here.

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Alys Mumford

Alys Mumford is campaign director of Jubilee Scotland

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