Demos Scotland 2020

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The Scotland 2020 project is run by the think tank Demos. It aims to investigate the connection between thinking stories and thinking imaginatively about the future. The project involved carrying out workshops with various business leaders, senior public sector managers, academics and NGO campaigners, along with a public event in Nairn where ideas about possible futures for Scotland were discussed. The information generated from these sessions was than used by five Scottish authors to write short stories.


The project is led by Gerry Hassan along with Eddie Gibb and Lydia Howland, The project report is introduced by George Reid MSP who was presiding officer of the Scottish Parliament at the time. Who has since announced that the Scottish Parliament is setting up its own think tank the Futures Forum to discuss where Scotland is heading


British Council Scotland Highlands and Islands Enterprise; BT Scotland Federation of Small Businesses Electronics Scotland; Scottish Enterprise NHS Health Scotland Oracle Corporation UK Scottish Arts Council The Co-operative Group

The idea behind the project is that all nations are in part shaped by the stories that there inhabitants tell about themselves So the idea of the American Dream or the Celtic Tiger shapes the way Americans and Irish see themselves. The report for the Scotland 2020 identifies a number of such stories for Scotland. They are the belief in an egalitarian ethos and a support for collectivism. The report argues that this has led to a sense of fatalism. They identify three stories for Scotland which can help to consider the idea of a national identity. The traditional, the modernist and the hopeful.

Gerry Hassan argues that Scotland has changed a great deal in the last twenty years saying Scottish society is now more individualist shaped by conspicuous consumption and consumer issues, is now more at ease with issues of equality - religious, gender, race etc and that Scottish politics are now increasingly post labour. However he argues that although the ways people live their lives has changed the way they view scotland and its society has not. He claims there is a romanticised nostalgia for a working class collectivist past.

This idea that Scotland needs to change to a more positive outlook and move away from its collectivist tradition is explored at length by the Scotland 2020 project with various "scenario building workshops" featuring representatives from across various sectors of Scottish public life. Yet this is not a new idea. Recently Stuart Cosgrove, the director of Nations and regions for channel four accused Scots of being in love with failure and the culture of poverty. While Carol Craig has been given public money to improve Scots attitudes by setting up a Centre for Confidence and Well Being in Glasgow.

The argument against this is that it is being used to create a Scotland which accepts the neo liberal consensus.

Demos put great importance on their development of techniques to improve "futures literacy". That is the scenario planning techniques they use. Their website claims that using these techniques "you may not always be right but you are almost never wrong". These scenrio planning techniques have become increasingly popular in the bussiness world since Shell succesfully used then in the 1970's. Yet some academics have a problem with these methods pointing out that they are not truly objective tool they are made to be and that results depend on the views of those establishing the scenarios