Maggie Cunningham, Michael Foxley, James Hunter and Brian Wilson
Paperback: 128 pages
Fifty years ago, the UK government established a new body to try to reverse the problem of depopulation which had long badly affected the Highlands and Islands of Scotland.
In 1965, the Highlands and Islands Development Board was given a remit which provided this new organisation with an array of economic and social powers to overcome this depopulation and other problems which had become endemic to the region. In many respects, it succeeded.
As the SNP government proposes to move the management of what is now Highlands and Islands Enterprise to the Scottish Central Belt, its direction to be amalgamated with that of other government quangos. Many people argue that this will badly damage the Highlands, and perhaps also the SNP.
In this book, edited and introduced by journalist and broadcaster Iain MacDonald, four eminent Highlanders express their concerns about, and present their arguments against, this policy. They are Professor James Hunter, ex-Chair of HIE; Brian Wilson, the Labour minister who appointed Professor Hunter to the position; Maggie Cunningham, ex-senior manager of BBC Scotland; and Michael Foxley, former Leader of Highland Council.
Their views may be controversial to some but they are significant contributions to this critical debate and to the future of the Highlands.
“We should look at ‘On Scotland’s Conscience’ as a fine example of the distinguished British tradition of pamphleteering. It....cannot avoid being powerful. Three or four of its contributors are living testament to the fact that, for all the vaunted Scottish literary renaissance, the best writers to issue from modern Scotland are not novelists or poets but journalists.”
..”There was a possibility that the essays in ‘On Scotland’s Conscience’ would have been overtaken by events by the time they appeared. They have not been overtaken.”
“... ‘On Scotland’s Conscience’ may not itself break the impasse. It nonetheless delivers a series of rapier thrusts to Holyrood’s indifference. John Swinney and his colleagues should read it. They will be informed and entertained.”
Roger Hutchinson, West Highland Free Press
(Author of 'Calum’s Road')