To quote the BBC’s Brian Taylor on BBC Scotland’s 26th October 2016 6.30pm news, ‘Scotland is a devolved section of a bigger state’.
This explains why Scotland doesn’t even merit listings on the world ranking tables for Press Freedom, Democracy, or Population Happiness.
We’re lumped in with ‘the bigger state’, of the UK.
– World Press Freedom, UK is 38th https://rsf.org/en/ranking
– World Democracy Index, UK is 12th http://democracyranking.org/wordpress
– World Country Happiness, UK is 23rd http://worldhappiness.report/ed/2016
In all of these constructed rankings, Scandinavian countries feature annually in the top 5, or at worst in the top 10. So, what is is about Scandinavian mentality, that creates this consistent benchmarking of worldwide excellence? How can one geographic area comprising of Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Finland and Denmark, so consistently lay down the standards which other countries can aspire to replicate and seek to achieve?
Scotland will clearly never have an opportunity to feature as a standalone in any of the above worldwide benchmarks, unless we become Independent. If we don’t become Independent, we will simply always continue to be a vessel which is being towed along behind another larger vessel. Or as we have termed it on Twitter, ‘Scotland is a beautiful yacht getting towed along behind The Titanic’.
Scotland’s Independence on this basis isn’t an Endgame. Independence is a start point. If Scotland does become Independent, as a country we can then aspire to drive ahead, with aspirations to achieve worldwide Top 5 rankings for all of these:
- WORLD PRESS FREEDOM
- WORLD DEMOCRACY / E-DEMOCRACY INDEX
- WORLD COUNTRY HAPPINESS
- POPULATION HEALTH
- DIGITAL INCLUSION
- PER CAPITA FINANCIAL PERFORMANCE
- CONTRIBUTION TO WORLD PEACE
We could take any of the above Scandinavian countries and drill into everything political, cultural and social, in order to try and define exactly what creates the mentality and mindset which Scotland can aspire to have.
For ease of reference, and as it is the nearest in population size to Scotland, we’re going to consider Denmark. More specifically, we’re going to base perspective in Copenhagen.
Denmark is consistently benchmarked as the Happiest country in the world. And Copenhagen is regarded as the Happiest city in Denmark, so what, how and why does this circumstance occur? And can Scotland one day seek to emulate this incredible success?
Arrive in Copenhagen’s Kastrup airport, you’ll notice there’s a dedicated ‘fast walking lane’, Danes, you see, they think of things like this.
As opposed to speculating from afar, Twitter: @YesDayScotland visited Denmark for a week in October 2016. We immersed into affluent Copenhagen culture, based in residence in a quite remarkable private property. We located in the city’s wealthiest neighbourhood of Charlottenlund, 10k north of the city centre, so as to ensure we’d gain a great understanding of infrastructure, public transport and commuting.
We also did a lot of driving across the entire city. And we pounded city centre and neighbourhood streets on foot for mile after mile after mile!
Let’s take a start point of city centre Nyhavn ‘New Harbour’, a 17th-century waterfront, canal and entertainment district stretching from Kongens Nytorv to the harbour front just south of the Royal Playhouse, lined by brightly coloured facades of 17th and early 18th century townhouses and bars, cafes and restaurants. The canal harbours many historical wooden ships.
A Monday morning at 11.45 am and local Danish pensioners are sitting down outside for lunch, wind whips in from across The Baltic, but external seating provides overhead heating and blankets. Danish smørrebrød (open sandwich multiple variations on rye bread) are ordered by the pensioners, with sides of half litres of Danske Red beer, and Aquavit shots. Expenditure on this, is somewhat removed from the reality facing many of Scotland’s pensioners. It is specifically because Denmark is regarded as having the world’s best pension system. Maybe it is That alone, which creates such population Happiness!!!???
Mid-October and Copenhagen is already accelerating towards the Annual Peak of the Danish Art of #Hygge. Hard to explain and even harder to pronounce, the word hygge roughly translates to ‘coziness’, but that definition doesn’t quite cover it.
Hygge (pronounced ‘hoo-ga’), is a word that more fully translates as ‘cosiness’, ‘warmth’, ‘conviviality’ and ‘kinship’. It is the reason, they claim, that the Scandivian regions are so happy.
In essence, hygge means creating a nice, warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people around you. The warm glow of candlelight is hygge. Friends and family – that’s hygge too. And let’s not forget the eating and drinking – preferably sitting around the table for hours on end discussing the big and small things in life. Perhaps this Danish idea of hygge explains why Danes are so often considered the happiest people in the world?
The high season of hygge is Christmas. Danes lead a secular lifestyle but when it comes to religious holidays, they totally pull out the stops. Danish winters are known to be long and dark, and Danes fight the cold and darkness with their best weapon: hygge, and the millions of candles that go with it.
Tourists who have been to Tivoli Gardens or walked the streets of Copenhagen during the festive season, will know what the Danes can do with lighting, mulled wine (known as gløgg for the locals), blankets and oversize scarves.
Hygge is something that happens all year round. Picnics in the park, barbeques with friends, outdoor concerts, street festivals and bike rides can all be very hygge, especially when done the Danish way.
Hygge didn’t originate in the Danish language but in Norwegian, where it meant something like “well-being.” It first appeared in Danish writing around the end of the 18th Century and the Danes have embraced it ever since. One good thing about hygge is that you can apply it anywhere, and Danes allocate it so generously to everything commonplace.
This mentality can certainly phase in and adapt to Scotland!
At the point of writing, we also note that what is currently arguably London’s coolest hotel, The London Edition, is running a ‘How to Hygge Festival’.
So anyway, Denmark has a population of 5.6M. Scotland has 5.3M.
Denmark’s logo of the tourism industry, is a contemporary take on an image of a heart. After all, it isn’t what people are made to think, it is how they are made to feel.
The one single biggest differential between Copenhagen and any Scottish city? Copenhagen is the world’s cycling capital. 37% of Danes cycle to work. Every day, locals in Copenhagen cycle 1,340,000 kilometres, the equivalent of 31 times around the earth! The cycling infrastructure is simply incredible. Most streets have a dedicated one way cycle lane. On many suburban streets, left to right, the format is driving, parking, cycling, pavement.
Edinburgh goes into political meltdown when a few miles of city centre pathway are newly aligned for cycling. What actually needs to happen is a complete reversal of everything in current practice!!! Tear up the rule book.
In Copenhagen the cars work around the bikes!!! The very opposite of Scotland. OMG think of the NHS savings.
Danes have back wheel locks for bicycles. Astonishingly for a Scot, the bikes themselves aren’t locked in place. Each week some 500 bikes get stolen. The value of each bike is under the police investigative threshhold, so insurance replacements prevail.
Danes thrive on #CycleChic – tall bikes in particular. And 90% of Danes own a bike.
Copenhagen is on the cutting edge of electric vehicle emergence. Fleets of sophisticated eco-friendly carshare BMW i3’s. And more £80,000 Tesla’s than you could imagine.
Danes are massive on design and art, included within Hygge. In terms of furniture, original vintage is vogue.
Boundaries are there to be pushed. Danes don’t accept blank frameworks around building sites, they’ll use it where possible for something artistic. One example, outdoor photographic celebrations of life, aspiration and dreams.
Scotland has no central bank. Denmark’s Danske Bank has a Copenhagen HQ founded in 1871.
Homelessness? This does indeed exist, however from what we understand, those who are homeless in Copenhagen have made this decision themselves, as ‘a choice of lifestyle’. Certainly we were struck by a fairly immediate realisation that Denmark is a country which really knows how to care for those who are on the margins of society.
Litter? If you drop litter in Copenhagen, you are fined the equivalent of £120 – and in 2015 the number of convictions? One. Nope, this is not a typo!
The streets of Copenhagen, and green areas of Copenhagen, these are basically immaculate, trains are artistically maintained as covered in graffiti, but people have real pride in their city’s presentation.
And talking of trains, they have entire train carriages dedicated to bicycles. In Scotland a train usually has 2 bike spaces. And, both of those 2 spaces needs to be formally pre-booked!!!
In Copenhagen, even the stairs have rails into which you roll your bike wheels!
Health? Copenhagen has a population ‘self-diagnosed’ obesity perspective of 13.4% – we don’t know how that is self-calculated, but simply looking around, we completely disagree with the figure. Assisted by such incredible cycling, the population of Copenhagen seemed the fittest we’ve even encountered, and that includes Oslo, Stockholm and Amsterdam. Cafes and bars busy with Danes getting cranked into beer and aquavit, ‘don’t worry, we’ll cycle off the calories’.
Culture? One night per year, Copenhagen has Kulturenatten, celebrating Denmark’s Culture. Over 700 city centre events take place. Scotland could easily do that.
Price of a pint? £5.08
Average monthly salary? £4,700
Democracy? Electronic Democracy, Digitalised voting since 2001. The University of Copenhagen’s Centre for Voting and Parties (CVAP) is a research centre focussed on the study of central institutions in the modern representative democracy, across the entire span of Elections, Voters, Electoral Systems, Political Parties, Parliaments, Governments, Constitutions and more. www.cvap.polski.ku.dk
We would wish Scotland’s Tories all the best of success explaining their ability to take Scotland’s advance tallies of referendum postal votes, in discussion with CVAP!!!
Scotland is still stuck in the dark ages of archaic paper slip voting. And our 2016 online searches for ‘E-Democracy Scotland Politics Department Strathclyde University’ produces nothing. And we mean NOTHING.
Maybe this is simply the way that Westminster likes it? Holyrood 2016 51.8% voter turnout, half of Scotland doesn’t even care enough to vote, and none of Scotland is actually aware of how much voter systems have moved onwards in Scandinavia? Or how involving they can be?
Love of Democracy. Sweden 87% voter turnout, and they still aren’t happy! Denmark 85.9% ditto!
CVAP also boasts ‘The Quantative Network’, a network of scholars who are interested in applying quantative methods, helping each other produce better, more convincing results.
Scotland only has one solitary psephologist, from whom we have never seen any commentary on ‘the emergence of digitalised voting’.
Well, Denmark’s Universities have been using electronic voting since 2008.
‘Assembly Voting’ is Denmark’s most used electronic voting system, in full accordance with legal regulations and articles of association. The system was originally developed in Denmark, and supports all types of ballots. www.assemblyvoting.dk
Since 2001. Scotland is 15 years behind!!! All we can say, is ‘Wake up Scotland!!!’
And for those YES politicians who wish to see Scotland having another referendum using archaic paper vote slips with 300 year old methodology? Please take a moment to wonder how Denmark would run a referendum.
A Land Enriched by Water. Maybe it is something in the water, that creates the world’s Happiest country? Water utilities ‘compete to supply the tastiest product, and restaurants serve it with pride’, Danes take it for granted.
Scotland unemployment rate? 5.5% Denmark? 6.3%
If you lose your job in Denmark, the state pays you 90% of your previous salary, for 2 years. Nope, no typo!
Copenhagen has offices for Amnesty International, and Human Rights in Action.
A mere handful of Scots fly Saltires in their gardens. In Denmark, Vimpels are flown at a high proportion of Danish residences. A Vimpel is a 12ft long thin pennant-shaped banner which incorporates the Danish flag Dannebrog’s design. Think we’ll maybe start the Saltire version trend in Scotland!
Denmark Politics. A framework of a parliamentary, representative democracy. A constitutional monarchy, in which Queen Margrethe II is head of state. A multi-party system, with two strong parties and four or five other significant parties.
Work mentality. The vast majority of Danish workplaces have horizontal structure, operating around teamwork. Current rises in Scotland’s NLW at 38.5% over a 5 year spread will inevitably see this evolution anyway.
Happiness in society. Danish society doesn’t judge other people’s lives. It allows them to choose the kind of life they want to live. This adds to overall satisfaction.
Attitude to money. Danes like to spend their money on socialising with others.
Tax? Progressive, from 17.7% to 51.7%, those who earn most are very happy to contribute. Results – world class education, healthcare and pensions.
Oil. Denmark is self-sufficient in oil, but doesn’t export.
Green Energy. Denmark is at the worldwide forefront. Wind turbines are located 3,500 metres offshore from Copenhagen.
Border controls. Heading over the incredible 8.5k Oresund Bridge from Sweden back into Denmark. Tourism tax £40
Press Freedom? Denmark is 4th in the world. Scotland doesn’t get a listing. UK is 38th, underneath Tonga.
Tourism vat Tax? To our massive surprise, highest in the world, at 25%! Denmark has capability to hugely accelerate eventual tax receipts, by realigning to same ballparks as other EU countries. Scotland is still stuck at 20%, SNP are actively seeking and supporting 5%
Workers’ rights? Denmark ranks highest in the world. Employers can however hire and fire at will.
Overview? Denmark uses the Nordic Model, combining free market capitalism with comprehensive welfare state and strong worker protection. According to the World Bank, Denmark has the most free labour market in Europe.
Level of High Public Spending! Finland 48.6% GDP, Denmark 51.7%, Sweden 56.6% – key reason for high spending, obviously large number of public employees.
Entrepeneurial Spirit and society? Stockholm and Copenhagen have become rising startup ecosystems that have resulted in six Unicorns! The Nordic Model – A Life Lived with Liberty and Happiness. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/soren-petersen/the-nordic-model—a-life_b_11817538.html ‘It is better to stand on each other’s shoulders than to step on each other’s toes’
Corruption? All Scandinavian countries score highly, but Denmark takes the cake! Denmark is the world’s least corrupt country.
City centre green spaces. Stunning, and you guessed it – full and proper provision made for cyclists!
Fun! Copenhagen has both of the world’s oldest amusement parks. The completely stunning city centre Tivoli park has 4.7M annual visitors. Annual pricing available for locals. 1843 Tivoli designer George Carstensen was Walt Disney’s inspiration! No reason why Edinburgh couldn’t have an all year round city centre facility in comparison. Existing Christmas celebrations are very sadly priced too expensive for a massive proportion of Scots and their children.
Re-cycling. At source, households already segregate paper and glass.
Dining. Copenhagen is home to Noma, 4 time winner Best Restaurant in the World. The name is a portmanteau of the two Danish words “nordisk” (Nordic) and “mad” (food). 16 courses heading £300
We visitied Noma sister establishment, the newly-opened 108, similar food, backdrop of rock’n’roll soundtrack new Strokes album, vintage Roxy Music, Lou Reed. This is where components of Scotland’s future dining out will evolve into. One day.
Copenhagen has 16 Michelin starred restaurants. Edinburgh has 4, Glasgow has none. Copenhagen also evidences the vanguard of collective StreetFood.
Small things matter. Copenhagen has digital timers on street crossings. Stops pedestrians getting edgy! Bus stops have screens which track bus progress.
And so on!
So, what makes the world’s happiest country?
In one word – Cultural.
We couldn’t nail it in a 140 character Tweet, here’s the summary.
What makes The Happiest city in The Happiest country in the world? #Copenhagen #Denmark
‘A continually evolving vision of how best to maintain and improve society whilst embracing innovation and technological change, to create a visionary coherence between aesthetic modes of expression and the social, political, economic, cultural and technical structures of the Nordic model of democracy. Structure and society exists as one coherent mass seeking to progress onwards with entrepeneurial spirit, and social prioritisation on holistic inclusiveness’
After Scotland becomes Independent, we can certainly set out to emulate Denmark’s incredible success and happiness. Over and above, Scotland has more oil, incredible tourism dynamics, and ability to attract so much more into our existing financial sectors.
So what are we waiting for?
Sincere gratitude to everyone we met in Denmark. The friendliest people ever, just like us Scots!
All best wishes via Twitter: @YesDayScotland
One further point, info adding on 11.2.2016 – Denmark is benchmarked as the best country in the world, in which to raise a family!!!
UPDATE 7th July 2017
In May of this year, we published an article about the scope of a potential Online Register, to measure the will for Scotland’s Independence: ONLINE INDY REGISTER Our wordpress stats, in amongst what has always been the extreme niche of Electronic Democracy, then began accelerating, and dramatically so!
We confirmed that the Online Register scope has been submitted to Scotland’s SNP Party Member New Policy Unit, and additionally to Derek Mackay, Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Constitution.
The May article then spread initially organically across a span of closed group social media pages, and as repeatedly mentioned on Twitter, it has been very humbling indeed, to read the opinions of fellow Scots, as well as many other people from across the world. WordPress top 10 readership countries for that article are UK, USA, Spain, Australia, Ireland, France, Canada, Greece, Germany, New Zealand. Think about that, and the reasons for Spain, Ireland and Canada being in that order, are perhaps self-explanatory.
In summary, there have been 3 constantly recurring social media sentiments: Love, Wow, and Happy. That’s truly wonderful to see, and we hope that the methodology can indeed serve purpose, resolving any existing or future mass conflict by using modern technology.
In turn, we then made a wee film clip. This placed onto our Facebook portal on 29th June, and as at today we’re heading some 10,000 post views, without one single negative comment!!! Here’s a direct link to the YouTube clip: Scotland’s Independence via Electronic Democracy
Sincere gratitude to all who have helped with input over the last 2 years. And thanks again to incredible Denmark. The Case Study above, well it all kind of brought together an additional view that progress is there for the taking, and it shouldn’t be restrained. It wouldn’t be restrained in Denmark, that’s another reason why they nailed world’s happiest country 3 times!
After placing the film clip online, we took the opportunity to visit Adam Smith’s statue in Kirkcaldy, Fife. It felt like the right thing to do.
We’ve previously written about how the Online Register conceptual, or #OCM Online Charter Methodology as it was previously referred to, has resolved the dynamic problems within Adam Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments. AFTER 256 YEARS, SCOTLAND FINALLY HAS A SOLUTION
Well, when the cutting-edge technological scope of a YesDayScotland Online Register is blended with Scandinavia’s Janteloven, ‘The Law of Jante’, whereby the needs of society are placed before those of the individual, that’s where the scope ‘for humanity, justice, generosity, and public spirit’, – accelerates into a clearly unprecedented dimension. And that’s … well, that’s very very EXCITING!
A further update, November 2018 http://cphpost.dk/opinion/opinion-five-reasons-denmark-runs-the-best-elections-in-the-world-probably.html
All the best