‘The Common Weal’ – A project from the Jimmy Reid Foundation


  By Angela Haggerty
An interactive project has been launched by a group of academics and the Jimmy Reid Foundation featuring a wealth of Scots intellects inviting members of the public to submit ideas, papers and policy proposals to crowdsource a practical, collaborative vision for an independent Scotland.
The Common Weal project – Scottishcommonweal.org – has a group of 30 academics and editors ready to take part in thrashing out realistic policies in areas such as economics, welfare, tax, the environment, governance and international relations.

The project received an early boost after the Church of Scotland confirmed plans to set up a working group to research and explore issues.

The project will look towards developing a Scottish version of the Nordic economic models of countries such as Finland, Denmark, Sweden and Norway and aims to develop a vision for Scotland which is “distinct and different” from London’s political and economic approach, pinpointing mutuality and equity as key principles in opposition to “conflict and inequality”.

A paper on the project explained: “The current debate about Scotland’s future has opened up a window to economic and social models outside the UK.  There is much we can learn from them.

“Many aspects of economies such as those of Germanic countries, aspects of the large-scale cooperative model in many parts of Europe and other lessons from abroad are now informing Scottish debate.  What we see in all these cases is that economic performance and social outcomes greatly outstrip the UK.”

The paper went on to explain that the Common Weal model for Scotland would place a strong emphasis on a diverse and high quality media, a strong arts and cultural identity, a transformed approach to education, and reformed attitudes towards transport and the environment, adding that a fundamentally new approach to the economy and public governance was needed.

Members of the public from Scotland and beyond are encouraged to submit their own ideas to the project – no matter how large or small – which will be reviewed by six dedicated editorial teams.  A team of researchers will sift through the content, all of which will be stored in an online library, and choose the best ideas and approaches before the editorial teams finalise the submissions which will form the content of six major reports on each policy area.

The aim of the project is to “create a programme for the economic and social transformation of Scotland” and it brings some of the country’s foremost intellectual minds to the debate.

Some of the names involved in the project include journalist and broadcaster Lesley Riddoch; Ailsa McKay, Professor of Economics at Glasgow Caledonian University; Andy Cumbers, Professor of Economic Geography at Glasgow University; Maggie Chapman, Academic and Scottish Green Party Councillor; Dr Bill Paterson, Lecturer in International Politics at the University of Stirling; journalist Ruth Wishart; novelist James Robertson; and musician and writer Pat Kane.

The Common Weal is expected to be debated at the annual gathering of the Radical Independence campaign prior to debates at the Scottish Green conference and later the SNP conference.  Dennis Canavan, chairman of the Yes Scotland campaign, welcomed the initiative, saying it was the kind of creative thinking which could ensure an independent Scotland was based on strong economics and principles of social justice.