OpenDemocracy needs your help

The site is just £50,000 short of its fundraising target.

OpenDemocracy, the digital commons which has hosted groundbreaking campaigns like OurBeeb and OurNHS, and insightful investigations like Cities in Conflict and oDRussia, an examination of the post-Soviet world, is just £50,000 short of its funding target.

The site, like many others in the same sphere, operates as a not-for-profit counter to corporate media, attempting to publish independent, public interest content. But such content is incredibly hard to make sustainably, and the site fell into debt while focusing on expansion over the past two years. As a result, it now needs to raise £250,000 by 31 March, or it will shut:

The aim is to achieve three things: clear our debts, cover current costs, and give the new Editor-in-Chief and his team time to build new funding relationships for 2014 onwards. Our target £250,000 will secure a new firm footing for openDemocracy.

Magnus Nome, openDemocracy's editor in chief, told me:

We offer a space that isn't available any other way, allowing experts and fresh voices from the ground the chance to present high-quality writing and analysis without being bound by the requirements of the corporate media.

It's impossible to get paid for content on the internet, so we depend on those who appreciate what we do and share our belief that it's an important thing. We have now raised £215,000 out of the £250,000 we need, and we believe that shows that others agree with us.

That still leaves another £35,000 to go. Donations can be made on its site, and the educational charity which supports it, openTrust, can accept gift aid on those donations as well.

"The crises of the epoch of market globalisation demand a world view that guards the gains of openness, human rights and democracy against a rising threat of neo-fascism and fundamentalisms," argue the team; openDemocracy is a much-needed organisation, and it can't be allowed to fall underwater now.

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Scotland's vast deficit remains an obstacle to independence

Though the country's financial position has improved, independence would still risk severe austerity. 

For the SNP, the annual Scottish public spending figures bring good and bad news. The good news, such as it is, is that Scotland's deficit fell by £1.3bn in 2016/17. The bad news is that it remains £13.3bn or 8.3 per cent of GDP – three times the UK figure of 2.4 per cent (£46.2bn) and vastly higher than the white paper's worst case scenario of £5.5bn. 

These figures, it's important to note, include Scotland's geographic share of North Sea oil and gas revenue. The "oil bonus" that the SNP once boasted of has withered since the collapse in commodity prices. Though revenue rose from £56m the previous year to £208m, this remains a fraction of the £8bn recorded in 2011/12. Total public sector revenue was £312 per person below the UK average, while expenditure was £1,437 higher. Though the SNP is playing down the figures as "a snapshot", the white paper unambiguously stated: "GERS [Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland] is the authoritative publication on Scotland’s public finances". 

As before, Nicola Sturgeon has warned of the threat posed by Brexit to the Scottish economy. But the country's black hole means the risks of independence remain immense. As a new state, Scotland would be forced to pay a premium on its debt, resulting in an even greater fiscal gap. Were it to use the pound without permission, with no independent central bank and no lender of last resort, borrowing costs would rise still further. To offset a Greek-style crisis, Scotland would be forced to impose dramatic austerity. 

Sturgeon is undoubtedly right to warn of the risks of Brexit (particularly of the "hard" variety). But for a large number of Scots, this is merely cause to avoid the added turmoil of independence. Though eventual EU membership would benefit Scotland, its UK trade is worth four times as much as that with Europe. 

Of course, for a true nationalist, economics is irrelevant. Independence is a good in itself and sovereignty always trumps prosperity (a point on which Scottish nationalists align with English Brexiteers). But if Scotland is to ever depart the UK, the SNP will need to win over pragmatists, too. In that quest, Scotland's deficit remains a vast obstacle. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.