7 December 2012

Alistair Darling closes INSP conversation series

Alistair Darling supported INSP by taking part in a conversation series on Scottish independence in Glasgow's Barony Hall last night.

The 'Better Together' leader and former UK Chancellor was in conversation with Herald and Sunday Herald writer Alan Taylor. Many aspects of the independence debate were covered, followed by questions from the floor.

In an interview with INSP prior to the live Q&A he said: "You can't have too much information. The Big Issue has been phenomenally successful for years now. I think the more access people have to information, through different sources, the better it is."

He praised the street paper model, which gives homeless people the tools to help themselves: "That is very important, because the whole idea was that somebody had a job. They sell a street paper and in return for that, they get the profits. The whole philosophy is that you are doing something for something. And I think that is an important part of what happens."

Darling emphasized the significance of the street paper concept developing and expanding -  inspired by INSP, based in Scotland, and The Big Issue. "It shows that there are lots of good ideas in the UK that spread around the world, and that is something that I would like to see built on."

On the issue of homelessness, he said: "What actually makes a difference to whether or not you tackle homelessness is to a large extent decided by the political complexion of the government that you elect, and whether or not it is prepared to take the action necessary in relation to providing not just physical homes, but also the support that many homeless people need to enable them to look after themselves."

Speaking of the effectiveness of charities and the success of the social enterprise model street papers adopt, he said: " I think social enterprise is very, very important and ought to be supported. But also, a lot of charities do an awful lot of work, particularly helping people who've got absolutely  nothing else and nowhere else to go. So you need both- it's not an either/or."

The event was organised in partnership with The Herald newspaper as part of their involvement with the Fraser of Allander Lecture Series. Full coverage of the events is available on the Herald website.

The first part of the conversation series featured Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond, interviewed by INSP Ambassador and Channel 4 news presenter Jon Snow.

Tickets sale proceeds from both events go towards INSP’s work alleviating poverty and supporting street papers in Scotland and around the world.

INSP’s Executive Director Lisa Maclean said: “With the 2014 referendum coming closer, information provision is of crucial importance. As a Scottish-based international charity, we are proud to have contributed to the debate through our two-part conversation series with Alex Salmond and Alistair Darling.”

“We’d like to thank our partners and sponsors, The Herald, the University of Strathclyde and Strathclyde Business School, Tinopolis, 999 Design and CCB, for their support in making these events possible. ”

All photos by Marc Turner