How Denmark became a source of inspiration for Scotland

A film by Lesley Riddoch explores the secrets of Denmark’s happiness and success

Denmark: The State of Happiness is the title of a new film by award-winning broadcaster, journalist and author Lesley Riddoch. The film, which will be shown across Scotland in early 2024, reveals how Denmark has achieved high levels of well-being, equality and democracy, and what lessons Scotland can learn from its Nordic neighbour.

Riddoch, who is a passionate advocate of all things Nordic, travelled to Denmark to interview experts, activists and ordinary citizens about the country’s history, culture and policies. She discovered that Denmark’s happiness is not a coincidence, but the result of decades of social and political reforms, such as:

  • A strong welfare state that provides universal health care, education and social security
  • A high degree of trust and cooperation among people and institutions
  • A culture of innovation and entrepreneurship that fosters creativity and sustainability
  • A balanced approach to work and life that values leisure and family time
  • A participatory democracy that empowers local communities and civil society

The film is part of a series that showcases the Nordic model

Denmark: The State of Happiness is the fourth and final film in a series that Riddoch has produced and directed since 2016. The series, which includes Norway: The Twin Nation, Sweden: Lessons for Scotland and Iceland: The Extreme Nation, aims to challenge the stereotypes and myths about the Nordic countries, and to inspire Scots to imagine a different future for themselves.

How Denmark became a source of inspiration for Scotland

The films have been screened at various venues and events across Scotland, such as community centres, schools, universities, festivals and cinemas. They have also been accompanied by Q&A sessions with Riddoch and other guests, who have engaged with the audience and sparked lively debates about the issues raised by the films.

The series has received positive feedback and acclaim from critics and viewers alike, who have praised Riddoch’s journalistic skills, storytelling abilities and enthusiasm for the Nordic model. The films have also been supported by various organisations and individuals, such as the Scottish Government, the Nordic Council of Ministers, the Scottish Green Party, the Scottish National Party and the Scottish Trades Union Congress.

The film hopes to influence the public debate on Scotland’s future

Denmark: The State of Happiness comes at a crucial time for Scotland, as the country faces the challenges and opportunities of the post-Brexit era, the Covid-19 pandemic and the climate crisis. The film also coincides with the growing demand for a second referendum on Scottish independence, which has been boosted by the recent electoral success of the pro-independence parties.

Riddoch, who is a vocal supporter of Scottish independence, hopes that her film will contribute to the public debate on Scotland’s future, and encourage Scots to consider the benefits of adopting a Nordic-style social and economic model. She believes that Scotland has much in common with Denmark and the other Nordic countries, such as a small population, a rich natural and cultural heritage, and a progressive and egalitarian outlook.

She also argues that Scotland has the potential and the resources to become a successful and happy nation, if it follows the example of Denmark and the other Nordic countries, and pursues a path of self-determination, social justice and environmental responsibility.

By Ishan Crawford

Prior to the position, Ishan was senior vice president, strategy & development for Cumbernauld-media Company since April 2013. He joined the Company in 2004 and has served in several corporate developments, business development and strategic planning roles for three chief executives. During that time, he helped transform the Company from a traditional U.S. media conglomerate into a global digital subscription service, unified by the journalism and brand of Cumbernauld-media.

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