All Just Hot Air? Scouting and Campaigning

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Following the publication of our survey on the future campaigning priorities for Scouting, there’s been a lively debate both here and on Escouts. In particular members have been hotly contesting what value campaigning offers Scouting, and if campaigning is about being involved in politics or even political parties.

Politics at present gets a pretty rough press – and perhaps rightly so given some of the recent events! Yet as Winston Churchill once argued “It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried”.

And whilst we may not like the conduct of many current politicians, that doesn’t mean we should shy away from the political process ourselves. Indeed, the debates we’ve been having these past few weeks are actually what politics is really all about- finding ways to discuss, debate and decide how the world should be and agreeing a course of action to achieve those ambitions.

We want to make sure we’re able to effectively represent the concerns of Scouting at both a local and a national level. Those of you who were involved in the Rain Tax campaign will know the difference we can make when we do speak up. And as we look ahead to the future we also want to help support the ability of Scouts to use the experience and ideas they have to shaping the world in which they live. This may seem new ground for us but is it really?

I think it reflects our time honoured commitment to our communities and the country in which we live. At its best, Scouting has always encouraged its members to be able to express themselves with confidence, speaking up for and acting on the concerns they have and values they learn through participation and responsibility within society.

I recognise some of you are worried that if we do speak with anyone in the public arena we should not stray into matters which are not exclusively specific to Scouting.

Yet others have also expressed to me their frustration that we don’t do more to make sure Scouting gets stuck into debates about what really matters to Britain’s young people. Our experience and work with them across the land for over a hundred years means we have a wealth of commonsense about how to help them thrive– a powerfully resource if we choose to use it!

Whatever your view on this, above all it’s our Members who make all our activities a success. That means we need to build ways for us to come together to debate and discuss such questions as well as to challenge each other on what this all means for Scouting.

This week a deliberative workshop will take place in London with people from across Scouting to do just that- consider a range of issues which could affect Scouting and its members in the coming months and what we could do as a result. And as we continue to develop our ability to speak up for Scouting I’m determined that it is our membership which are at the forefront in shaping not only the who or what of our campaigning but also the how and the why.

I’ve no doubt these debates will continue – both on and off line! It is a healthy and welcome step for us and I look forward to your ideas and views on these subjects as they come in- whether I agree with them or not!

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