Academy of Ideas
Academy of Ideas
#ScotlandSalon: Solidarity with Ukraine - freedom, democracy and sovereignty

#ScotlandSalon: Solidarity with Ukraine - freedom, democracy and sovereignty

This is a recording from the Scotland Salon - a panel discussion on the roots of the war in Ukraine and whether it offers any lessons for Scotland - held on Wednesday 13 April 2022:

Scotland’s public debate on the war in Ukraine has been very low key. We have set up charity hubs for refugees, but we haven’t really engaged in a public discussion about the causes of the war or the right to national self-determination.

The possibility of nuclear war, Putin’s recklessness and the energy crisis have tended to dominate the way we discuss the issue. There has been very little time and space to discuss the national rights of the Ukrainians. This is surprising given that many Scots are interested in the question of national self-government and would vote – perhaps even fight – for Scottish independence. Scottish politicians have been chastised for making crass connections between the war and Scottish independence. While it’s clear that the two situations are not directly comparable, this seems like a very good time to discuss what we mean by freedom and democracy.

Whether you are for or against independence, surely it’s time we started to have serious discussions about the emerging world order. It has suddenly become painfully clear that the end of the Cold War did not mark the beginning of an era of permanent peace after all.

Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, says the war demonstrates the need to end Scotland’s dependency on fossil fuels and it shows the importance of supranational institutions such as the EU and NATO. Is she right? How did we get here? In all the confusion, the ‘Vladimir Putin is a mad dictator’ explanation really isn’t a good enough answer.

This Scotland Salon event will provide an opportunity to discuss the causes of the war and solidarity. One thing is clear: international solidarity is not a devolved issue and we should develop a better understanding of the history that led to this war and the global tensions that are being fuelled by Russian expansion.


Eddie Barnes campaign director. Our Scottish Future think-tank; former political editor, Scotsman; former political adviser to Ruth Davidson

James Heartfield writer and lecturer on British history and politics; author of several books, including The Equal Opportunities Revolution and The British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society

Jacob Reynolds partnerships manager, Academy of Ideas; convenor, The Academy 2022: Old Roots of the New Disorder; writer, Spiked

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Academy of Ideas
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