By Irene Oldfather and Richard Norris

AS the Northern Irish go full steam ahead on their White Dove Peace Building initiative to ensure they have a strong brand and place in a globally connected, post-Brexit Europe, it’s time to ask what Scotland’s unique selling point could be.

The nations of the UK face questions as to what game changing role they could continue to have in Europe and beyond, and how to play to their strengths.

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The issue of how Scotland, given its vote for Remain, can continue to have strong links with the EU and engage in European institutions like the European Economic and Social Committee, as well as the more pressing economic issues around trade and tariffs, are a challenge to the Scottish political, civic and policy community.

There is much focus on the negative: the relationships that will be disrupted and the impact of leaving on trade and industries and, consequently, jobs. Regardless of one’s views on the referendum result, it is important that the civic and policy community coalesce around a common post-Brexit brand. The Northern Irish are advanced in their lobby of Europe and beyond around the White Dove as a “European Place of Global Peace Building”; they are well placed to do so.

In Scotland it is time to think about the added value we can provide. What it is that we want to say to the rest of the world, as in “we do this well – we can share our learning with you”?

One strength we can play to is our vigorous and innovative culture of participation and citizenship. In part kindled by the Scottish Parliament, itself the fruits of the innovative and groundbreaking Scottish Constitutional Convention, we have a culture of co-production, citizenship, participation and rights streets ahead of most other nations.

The independence referendum produced levels of participation previously unheard of: 85.5 per cent of the voting population exercised their democratic right, the highest turnout in any UK vote. Also, Scotland has led the way for the rest of the UK in lowering the voting age to 16. From big-ticket issues such as the referendum to community participation, strengthened by the Community Empowerment Act and participatory budgeting, Scotland has much to offer.

The policy drivers around Realistic Medicine, about shared decision making and people as equal partners, will, with leadership and innovation, be a catalyst to greater involvement in health and wellbeing in much the same way as the Christie report was for the public reform agenda.

The co-production agenda in Scotland is far advanced. The Consultation Institute, which works internationally, recently commented: “Public engagement in Scotland is different. It has innovative legislation, unique in the British Isles and requires more collaborative, participative working within and between public bodies than anywhere else in the UK.”

Now is the time to be bold and imaginative in terms of the Scottish ‘brand’. We should be proud of our democratic traditions which have been invigorated by our devolved institutions and civic culture.

We can share our learning and our values. Scotland can and should lead the way and be brave, bold and ambitious. Is it possible that, if Ireland could be the Peace Broker, Scotland could be the Citizen Builder?

Irene Oldfather, former Labour MSP, is director at the Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland. Richard Norris is a visiting fellow at the University of Edinburgh Academy of Government. They write in personal capacities.