2007 - 2022


Here are some of the ideas from a new report published by Common Weal today “Renewal: Ideas to reinvigorate the Scottish Government”. Read the full report here.

Common Weal state: “The Scottish Government has been in power for ten years. It has also just faced an election in which there were some clear signs of discontent about the risk of stagnation and a perceived lack of ambition. All governments must renew themselves if they wish to remain relevant; the Scottish Government is no exception. It swept to power in a swell of optimism and has, until now, strengthened and consolidated its position by continuing to talk the language of hope and progress. However, people may be beginning to question whether there has been sufficient progress to sustain their hope. The Scottish Government requires an eye-catching refreshed agenda to persuade them that their hope remains well placed.”

Create a Scottish National Investment Bank and use it to finance an era of green re-industrialisation

A National Investment Bank owned by the public can fund housebuilding and new infrastructure like schools and hospitals, invest in businesses an support big projects. It can form the core of a strategy to reindustrialise Scotland beginning by boosting an innovative renewable energy sector.

Build the homes and infrastructure that people need and rebuild the town centres they deserve

An investment bank can finance the building of a new generation of top quality housing, creating a genuinely mixed market of house owners, public and private rental options, cooperative and collective ownership and expanded opportunities for self-build. A Scottish National Infrastructure Company can work with the bank to build first rate public infrastructure. And all of this can be coordinated to reverse the decline in our town centres.

Get childcare plans right – the missing money can be found by scrapping the proposed Air Passenger Duty cut

The childcare plans are exciting but are underfunded and so could be even more exciting. Scrapping the ill-judged Air Passenger Duty Cut would free up £600m. That extra money could build a universal, publicly-owned, first rate kindergarten system with highly trained staff working to a first-rate national child development curriculum based around play and discovery, taking place in first rate nurseries and with the option for ‘wrap-around’ care for parents.

Take democracy seriously and give more power to citizens

People want more say in their lives, more control over their communities – but they feel power has moved away from them. A new generation of innovation in democracy means there are lots of exciting new approaches to engaging citizens in decision-making and giving them power. The Scottish Government should set a plan of making Scottish citizens the most powerful in the world.

Send out the right signals

• Reverse education reforms and focus on reducing bureaucracy on teachers, increase the number of teachers and reducing class sizes to get back on the right track.
• Permanently ban fracking.
• Make progress on land reform.
• Create more art in Scotland, by Scotland, for Scotland

Embrace local tax reform for revenue raising and redistribution

Transformation requires investment in public services. Local government taxation needs reform and is a great opportunity for raising more revenue and increasing redistribution by replacing the Council Tax with a property tax that also taxes the value of land. This can raise £500 million for investment and still leave 75 per cent of households better off.

Comments (22)

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  1. Alf Baird says:

    “Renewal: Ideas to reinvigorate the Scottish Government”

    We could start by putting a stop to Whitehall sending us up colonial-style their own senior civil servants to run SG departments, public institutions, and the wee puppet pairlament an aw. Are Scots no guid eneuch tae rin thair ain kintra? Scotland first needs institutional leaders who believe in Scotland, and the right strategies will surely follow. Until then we are simply another nation’s plaything.

    1. milgram says:

      “All we need is strong leaders who are properly Scottish”?
      Yuck. I’ll go with empowering communities of the people living here first, thanks.

      1. Alf Baird says:

        ” I’ll go with empowering communities of the people living here ..”

        At the highest levels this simply will not happen in Scotland, and will not happen so long as all the top jobs here are predominantly advertised south of the border, giving in population terms a 90% chance the appointee will not be Scots. This is not a recent phenomenon; historic census data shows that the largest immigrant group to Scotland over the past century and more has been people from rest-UK, and especially amongst the professional classes.

        If the ‘top’ people appointed to run Scotland’s institutions do not even believe in our nation, and moreover are culturally opposed to its people exerting their nationhood (i.e. unionist), they will be unlikely to maximise its full potential or that of its people. The colonial emphasis is typically to publically undermine a colony’s potential, whilst quietly exploiting its resources, and to continually talk it down, as to do otherwise would call into question its apparent dependency on a supposed ‘greater’ entity.

    2. Frank says:

      I sometimes think you are unionist troll.

  2. Freida Dyson says:

    We have to heal our bruises first after our continual battering, but then get on with it. The Scottish National Bank idea is good, and offering people who live in Scotland shares for such a venture could create a lot of interest. Surely there is nothing to stop this.
    Council Tax needs to be dealt with – those less well off get support with this or don’t have to pay, which is right, but the system is unfair, and should be tied to property type and size etc.
    Other good suggestions here, but will the Government listen? If they don’t then they will pay the price.

  3. john young says:

    I have read all of the suggestions from the Common Weal and for me they are very positive projects that would surely engage most of the population,they are in the main visionary/forward thinking not like the usual party political agendas of the mainline parties SNP included.

  4. manandboy says:

    Even in Scotland, some think that slaves in iron shackles should buck their ideas up.

  5. Sheikh Mabunnet says:

    Mostly good, but I would argue against the permanent ban on fracking. The reason we don’t have such a ban already is that it would be instantly challenged by vested interests in court and likely overturned. Thus, somewhat counter-intuitively, it is the current moratorium which is actually the best long-term strategy against fracking.

  6. Onwards says:

    There are plenty of opportunities to boost the economy via public spending. But such a huge chunk of the Scottish budget is already allocated to health, social care and protection etc

    It’s politically difficult to reduce any spending in these areas. So perhaps it might be a good idea to have fixed percentages of the budget allocated to spending, especially when austerity cuts are still to come.

    Health 21%
    Education 13%
    Welfare 13%
    Transport 5%

    This way, spending can rise or fall transparently depending on the general economy and yearly budget.
    Any party proposing a rise in education spending would have to say which other sector they will be taking funds from.

    The focus could turn to Scotland gaining the powers that would allow us to more effectively grow the economy as a whole.

  7. Crubag says:

    Good to see some fresh ideas but the numbers don’t seem to add up, possibly there is more detail on their website.

    State bank – will need funds from somewhere, so reduction in public spending? Investments will need market returns, so housing, renewables etc. will need to be run at a profit overall.

    Air passenger duty – I think this only raises £300 million a year, not £600 million – and it is already being spent, so some other area of current expenditure would need to be cut by £300/£600 million.

    My suggestions along these lines would be:
    – better planning to ensure closer co-location of schools/nurseries and homes and jobs to reduce the need to travel
    – local investment banks, funded by citizens, along the lines of Germany’s Sparkassen

    1. There’s a link to the full report there Crubag

      1. Crubag says:


  8. w.b.robertson says:

    hope it is not too late…but this timid Scottish government just needs to acquire some balls. and fast.

    1. David Allan says:

      you express my own thoughts !

      What could be universally popular would be a gutsy challenge on the validity of maintaining the presently crippling PFI payments.

      Given the “School wall-Tie” fiasco surely an opportunity exists to suggest a failure to deliver to contract specifications. Time for a re-negotiation. If nothing else publicity here would focus public attention onto the huge proportions of the health and education budgets used for PFI payments.

      Demonstration of a govt with balls that’s Stronger for Scotland is now overdue. For me if the prospect of ref2 recedes then a lot of indy supporters will drift away to other parties. Corbyn will win support in Scotland if it means getting Tories out.

      It’s that serious.

      1. Crubag says:

        These contracts are often for the delivery of a service – so space in which to teach children – rather than a actual school. The breach could be remedied by finding alternative space.

        The building is and remains the property of the investor at the end of the contract.

  9. George Gunn says:

    land land land. Nationalise land.

  10. George Gunn says:

    nationalise land.

    1. firedept says:

      Yeah, nationalise land. all land.

      That’s going to be a really popular policy.

      1. Crubag says:

        It might or might not be popular, but would it be practical?

        The Scottish Government would need to pay market rates, so couldn’t afford very much and would need to take the money from current spending to tie up in property (though it itself owns about 10% of Scotland). And once in state hands, what will be done with it? Find tenants?

  11. firedept says:

    Here’s a Revolutionary idea for you.

    Stop pretending that revenues can be spent twice, or even three times.

    Stop pretending that Scotland is more “socialist” or “left wing”. You are really just more keen on tax and spend. i.e. “Free” stuff where the benefits actually accrue disproportionately towards the more affluent, at the expense of the least well off, paid for by the most affluent, who fill up the “communal” pot.

    Stop pretending that, at the moment, there is no evidence that Scots are prepared to adopt the nordic model, of higher direct and indirect taxation across the board on almost everyone. Really, Scots want tax and spend (see above).

    Stop pretending that “you” the “Scots” are some homogeneous bloc, in attitudes and in politics. You are not a united nation, you are a deeply divided nation; all thanks to your SNP and independence “movement”.

    When, and only when, you drop the adversarial process, of “you the good” Vs “them the bad” (“yoons and tories”) and embark on a consensual process, will you have an chance of obtaining your “independence”.

    After all the damage the SNP and your “movement” have done, it will take many, many, many years.

    You will not see it, though your children’s children might, if you change.

  12. Crubag says:

    The local government taxation element looks eye watering – if the proposed rate of 4p in the pound is applied, that would mean the average annual council tax payment would by £6,500, I think.

    Taxing farmers for the value of their land – they currently pay no tax – could have unintended effects. Smaller farmers and those in remote areas are often low income, and adding a new tax might mean they give up their land in favour of deeper-pocketed landowners.

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