Chapter Three: The Assembly learning journey
Above all, the Assembly journey has been about the evolution of democracy in Scotland. It has provided us with a roadmap for doing politics differently in the future. On this journey, new and lasting friendships have been formed and a shared commitment setting out a new direction for the country has been forged. Regardless of age, background, experience or political view, Assembly members have travelled together, learning about the country and worked together on the challenges and choices we face
As shown in member stories and their individual diaries, the Assembly has been a very positive experience for members. Anyone who has been involved, including through presenting evidence or observing proceedings, has seen this for themselves.
"It feels like we’re all in on it now, a real hive mind. We’re striving forward with a set of ideas. I think it’s all coming together. We’re slowly landing on it and seeing the shift"
It is this direct experience – the energy, buzz and creativity in the room and over the airwaves, the banter, humour and sharing of stories – where the Assembly has come to life. Assembly members truly have been a mirror of the nation; reflecting our strengths and diversity, our independence of spirit and thought, our personal integrity and the positive values that we share of tolerance and acceptance of difference.
"I was taken with how everyone seemed to suspend their judgements, and took the chance to understand, even accept the others more, despite the to-be-expected disagreements on certain topics. This requires compassion, patience, and a good heart, and I would say that we achieved more understanding than separation. I think there was some big learning for many of us."
The context within which the Assembly has undertaken its work have been extraordinary. It met against the backdrop of the greatest political, economic and social upheaval in the post-war era, and it examined the really important policy issues and challenges of our time such as climate change, rising inequalities, health and wellbeing, the future of work and the economy, public finances and taxation. Members heard from experts on a broad range of topics and explored how politics is conducted and how decisions are taken.
Whilst this stage of the Assembly journey is now largely complete, there are enormous opportunities for Scotland to learn from and build on to create a more progressive modern democracy fit to deal with the challenges we face; a democracy where citizens are fully involved in discussion and decision making, including on the topics covered in the recommendations in this report.
"It has been very intense and we’re now finding our level in the whole process. And the way I’m seeing this forum, we are now a buttress. We sort of support the establishment from the bottom up as we can evaluate and find out what the people of Scotland need and we can sample the issues as we come from lots of different areas and that is all good. We can collect all this information which we can feed back into the system for it to be implemented. How it is implemented is up to the government. How they do it is up to them, but they have to do something."