FutureFest: Nicola Sturgeon on how government can shape the future


By Russell Bruce
In a fascinating speech at FutureFest 2018 in London First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon set out the vision and strategy the Scottish Government is delivering to shape Scotland’s future.

Organised by NESTA, Future Fest explored how innovation and information can be used to deliver a better future. NESTA has worked with 30 governments since 1998, exploring innovative solutions to deliver the successes of tomorrow.

Nicola Sturgeon describes how her government is working to deliver the industries and jobs of the future, improve peoples lives through access to health and education and develop social policy to make Scotland a prosperous and more equal country.

The clarity set out by the First Minister is a welcome contrast with the wishy washy phrases that trickle out of the mouths of Westminster ministers. May presides, just about, over a cabinet in constant turmoil. The Scottish Government works to high level cross-cutting objectives, co-ordinated across all Sturgeon’s ministries.

This video is a must watch to gain an insight into the structure of a government looking to the future rather than one at trying to recreate a lost past.


  1. Lets look in brief at some ‘key’ points in the first 8 minutes of this speech:
    “using data to tackle social problems” (like we cannae see the problems without ‘data’?)
    “innovation is in our dna” (aye steam engine, tele, etc the usual dwelling in the long time past when we wis great – yet still managed to somehow permanently remove 4 million of our own people)
    “investing heavily in innovation centres” (aka easy money for smart talking university profs and consultants who actually deliver not a lot aside from their own high salaries)
    “in early stages of setting up state investment bank” (alas several decades after many other countries with foresight )
    ” solving challenges in our public sector” (the mouth that keeps needing fed ever more money as we make it ever larger)
    “developing, designing, innovation, manufacturing…… ” (nice buzzwords, but is there any substance here?)
    “not simply consuming products invented elsewhere” (as if Scotland is too good for that, and we have to invent a’thing? That sounds like arrogant wishful thinking, especially in the sectors I worked in where Scotland is more akin to that of a less developed nation)

    Forgive me, but Ms Sturgeon here seems to have swallowed the latest ‘strategic thinking’ nonsense from that most failed of all national economic development agencies – Scottish Enterprise – the latter no doubt influenced again by the latest fashionable highly paid intellectual guru’s. As this form of hopeless non ‘strategy’ has failed so often in the past so it is doomed to fail again.

    Economic development is hardly rocket science (e.g. look at Dubai, Singapore, Shanghai etc). Ecdev is largely about trade flows. To secure economic growth we need to look at how trade is developed and facilitated and intercepted. Unfortunately few if any public sector decision makers in Scotland know anything about trade, or how trade may be developed, facilitated or intercepted. So they end up talking a lot of nonsense about things like “investing heavily in innovation centres” and “developing, designing, innovation and manufacturing” and the usual utter waffle such as “innovation is in our dna”. The only reassuring thing about this sort of political speech is that a Labour, LibDem or even a Tory FM would probably have delivered exactly the same drivel, not least because the other constant here is our mostly dire senior civil servants who are paid to draft such nonsense.

  2. Sorry folks, though I do seem to have heard all this kind of stuff (guff?) afore, and more than once. I’m sure Nicola means well. But the reality is that Scotland’s still mostly clueless public sector elites are always going around in circles spending (and often wasting) bucketloads of public cash on this and that fashionable initiative yet ignoring easier more practical actions, whilst the usual suspects (e.g. offshore privatised utilities etc) are happily intercepting all the rents, and meantime half or more of Scotland’s population live in or close to poverty and economic growth still does not really exist here. Scotland remains a rather large unionist administered swamp guys, even with an SNP Gov ‘in power’ for the last decade! No sweet words from any FM will change that. Scotland needs a real slump sooker to drain the slump and a more savvy set of strategies to get the auld naition moving.

  3. The trouble with government policymakers is an institutionalised terror of saying something controversial. So it is up to others to come up with the ideas, many of which will first fail.

    The first thing that needs to happen – otherwise everything else is just talk – is easy availability of cheap credit for investment. Scotland’s 19th century growth was based on re-invested profits from the transatlantic tobacco trade in the 18th century. But where is the money going to come from to fund future growth? Where for e.g. is our ‘oil fund’? Sort that and everything else will fall into place.

    Alf’s point about entrepots (Dubai, Singapore). Scotland has an opportunity with the opening of the Arctic Ocean to act as a North Atlantic hub for Pacific-bound shipping, but then so does Iceland, the Faroes, and Norway. It will come down to who wants and prepares for it the most.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here