The distinguished historian Christopher Harvie writes about ‘Saving Scottish towns’ for the Scottish Review. He asks:
How much should the state intervene? Because in Germany it isn’t just market forces that secure the survival of niche retailers (like the organic stores, the bike workshops, the independent bookshops). There is intervention at Land level: a ministry for the Mittelstand (SMEs), social insurance for market traders, hostility (expressed through restrictive planning) to big supermarkets, and banning HGV trips at weekends. This is helped by – and helps – good public transport and town-centre parking, recycling depots, local breweries, vineyards, bottling plants.
Can’t we have – and not just in Scotland – trials in which ‘home town’ is matched against ‘clone town’? The internal patterns of commerce and society within both can be measured, so that we understand the economic dynamics which hold communities together, or pull them apart. If we investigate the social and economic impact of large supermarkets on communities in comparison to other modes of retail, we will at least know what we are letting ourselves in for.
Is local government, anyway, up to the job?
Read the full article here.
Listen to Harvie’s interview with George Galloway, which will be broadcast on Press TV and on Sky 515 on Sunday evening. From Monday 29th, you can listen to it online at The Real Deal programme website.
Christopher Harvie is Member of the Scottish Parliament for Mid Scotland and Fife. Harvie is visiting professor at Strathclyde and Aberystwyth universities and serves on the board of the European Centre for Federalism Studies, Tübingen, Germany. His many books includeBroonland: The Last Days of Gordon Brown and Scotland and Nationalism and Fool’s Gold: The Story of North Sea Oil.