TODAY we launch Speaking of Values, which explores values though the lenses of a number of people across Scotland. The book is intended as a stimulus to further conversations on values and all profits will be donated to charities.

Earlier this week I met silversmith Michael Lloyd, maker of the Scottish Parliament mace, to find out more about the mace and the values inscribed upon it: values set against the gold and silver representing the marriage of the people and the land.

The values inscribed on the mace came from Mr Lloyd. As he explained: “As a designer you tend to grab what is in the air at the moment”, and, while they were not necessarily his values, they were the values, he felt, “that people would want”.

Talking about the choice of the value of wisdom, he noted that, for Scotland, whose education system has always been strong, this value has been of particular importance.

There has been much comment about the mace’s missing value. Many believed courage was supposed to be the fifth value but that there was insufficient space to include it. Mr Lloyd confirmed that there had been a discussion around courage and there is something quite nice about this missing element being something for people to contemplate and debate.

Towards the end my our conversation I reflected on the benefit students in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dundee must be gaining from his input and expertise. His response, humble as ever, encapsulated our conversation and the values threading through it: “Well, it is more of a two-way process.” Learning, like values, develops and thrives through conversation.

So many areas are ripe for further exploration. Maces take their roots from militaristic weapons, so are they the best artistic representation of authority in a modern-day parliament? Should there have been greater consultation on the values of the Scottish Parliament’s mace? If you had a mace, what values would you have inscribed upon it?

The House of Commons mace has been grabbed by parliamentarians twice in recent times: once, in 1976, when Conservative MP Michael Heseltine snatched it up as opposition benches began singing The Red Flag during heated debates on the aircraft and shipbuilding industries; and then again in 2009, by Labour MP John McDonnell during a debate on Heathrow Airport. No such unrest has been witnessed by the Scottish Parliament, although the idea of this symbolic item being taken up by those who feel the values of their Parliament to have been breached is intriguing.

On the one hand, what values would you have on your mace; on the other, what values would you draw red lines around? Moreover, how do we look to reconcile values when they appear to be in competition and conflict in an increasingly complex and chaotic world? Might using a symbol less confrontational than a mace be a starting point?

Speaking of Values by Emma Fossey, Neil McLennan and Gary Walsh is available in paperback and eBook from