Martin Sime: Food, education, Brexit and the Homeless World Cup

Our man in Scotland reflects on the failure of party politics but finds solace through football played in the right spirit

Martin Sime
Martin Sime

I'm excited by the surge of interest in food in the third sector: growing it, cooking and serving it, selling or redistributing it. We now have more food intermediaries, networks and umbrellas than you could shake a celery stick at, but what's piqued my interest is that the Greeks have built a new political movement around soup kitchens.

The debate about education in Scotland has reached a critical point. The system is badly failing our most marginalised citizens, but we don't all agree why. Local government wants to retain control; as ever, teachers want less work/more pay and their unions want to monopolise access to children by the teaching profession. The most compelling argument I heard was that our failure to learn, adapt and change is in large part to do with the drive for everything in our education system to be the same. Voluntary organisations have lots to contribute to school-community engagement, but our sector could also teach schools a thing or two about the value of diversity and pluralism.

In the summer I visited Glasgow for the Homeless World Cup, a Scottish invention run as a social enterprise. It brings teams from 50 countries to the centre of Glasgow. I watched Scotland lose 6-5 to Egypt, but the result didn't matter because these are friendly games played in the right spirit, and they change lives. It is now televised around the world, a great advert for Scotland.

I see Brexit as another failure of party politics: the issue itself was far too important to be left to politicians. Everyone else was sidelined by a traditional media approach, especially from the BBC, which was built around leaders on platforms. Most depressing was the narrow selfishness of the debate - what's in it for me? There ought to have been space for a more generous view about learning from Europe and the idea of a Europe of citizens. Our dilemma in Scotland after this debacle is sharper: which union should we keep?

This did, however, give helpful cover for our decision to go our own way on fundraising regulation with a lead regulator model for UK charities headquartered outside Scotland. There was no enthusiasm for a UK solution. The majority view was to differentiate ourselves, not for political purposes but as an act of self-preservation.

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus