Alison Elliot, SCVO convener, has responded to Willie Rennie MSP following his calls to ask Martin Sime, Chief Executive, SCVO to consider his position.
15 August 2012
Willie Rennie MSP
The Scottish Parliament
In your letter (14 August), you have made serious allegations against the CEO of SCVO, based on two specific incidents. I consider your allegations preposterous, your interpretation of the incidents fanciful and your attempt to interfere in the business of an independent organisation unworthy of a public leader. I have no intention of asking Martin to resign.
It can be argued that, were it not for the efforts of civil society, through the Constitutional Convention, there would not be a Scottish Parliament for you to be an MSP in. That was of its time but civil society always has a role in a healthy democracy.
The poll which the Future of Scotland published last month indicates that there is an appetite among the public at present for a wide debate about Scotland’s future, something which should be no threat to the seasoned politicians who lead the two referendum campaigns.
It is this debate which organisations in civil society are promoting, with the intention of encouraging people to develop a vision of the kind of Scotland they want to see so as to inform their referendum decision. It is not a campaign for any particular outcome, or for any particular mechanism for achieving an outcome.
Special advisers from all the main political parties, including your own, have been in dialogue with SCVO in recent months; that is their job. We welcome these conversations and engage in them vigorously from our perspective as a civil society organisation that has an interest, on behalf of our members, in contributing to policies that shape the environment in which the third sector works. We are quite clear about the grounds on which we base our arguments; they are formed by the work and concerns of our members, not by any party political stance.
SCVO is not a front for anyone, nor will it be told by outsiders what it will or will not debate or how it should conduct its business.