Renew: Six policies that can refresh the Scottish Government's domestic agenda

A Scottish National Investment Bank to fund green re-industrialisation, transformation of housing and radical democratic reform among measures proposed for renewal of the Scottish Government’s agenda

COMMON WEAL has published a new paper proposing six policy ways to renew the Scottish Government’s domestic agenda through fresh and eye-catching policy transformation after 10 years in power at Holyrood.

‘Renew: Six policies that can refresh the Scottish Government’s domestic agenda’ can be read in full here.

The paper draws on published Common Weal papers over the past few years, and the six policy proposals are:

  1. Create a Scottish National Investment Bank and use it to finance an era of green reindustrialisation

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.

  1. 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 selfbuild. A Scottish National Infrastructure Company can work with the National Bank to build first rate public infrastructure. And all of this can be coordinated to reverse the decline in our town centres.

  1. Create a world-class childcare system

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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

Support for ‘Renew’

Ronnie Cowan MP for Inverclyde said:

“I believe more than ever that we must define the Scotland we want to be part of. If we can share not just a vision but the practical steps to achieve our common goal then it is my view that the citizens of Scotland would rally round it.

“All organisations, political or not, that have a valid input must be encouraged to engage in the democratic process and their input must be heard, respected and when appropriate acted upon.”

Elaine C Smith, actor and yes campaigner:

“It’s refreshing to see the momentum building for these ideas which could visibly transform Scotland and they’re things we can start working on right now. There’s no point in tweaking the system when you can take real steps to change it, which is why these ideas are so exciting.”

Alex Neil, SNP MSP for Airdrie and Shotts said:

“I am delighted that Common Weal is bringing forward these new ideas, which are badly needed to invigorate the debate about the way forward for Scotland. We cannot rest on our laurels as a government. We must keep driving forward economic and social change in Scotland. These proposals are exciting and imaginative and should be given serious consideration.”

former SNP deputy leader Jim Sillars said:

"I welcome a number of these proposals, which demonstrate that imagination is alive and well in the independence movement, and is above all capable of radical policies that are practical and achievable. With political will behind them, they can help transform the lives of so many of our people who are afflicted by low growth and a low wage economy, and the poverty which flows from it. We can change for the better, and these policies show how."
Tommy Sheppard MP for Edinburgh East said:
“As ever, Common Weal are doing a great job in servicing a necessary debate. It’s vital we keep going forwards.”
Rory Steel, SNP Socialists Convener and SNP Youth Vice Convener said:
“It is vital now that the SNP reinvigorates the passions of the independence movement through a set of bold new policies - especially amongst young people who will be the next generation of workers, voters and leaders. This will not only bring radical and meaningful change to peoples’ lives, but also demonstrate Scotland’s potential as an independent country and the progress we can achieve together in our future.”
Mike Small, Bella Caledonia editor said:
"These 'practical-radical' policy ideas lay out the prospect of renewal. Malcolm Frasers ideas for quality affordable housing, self-build and renovation with an emphasis on collective infrastructure (such as district heating) are inspiring and essential. The plans to proper fund childcare and the ideas for a Second Citizens Chamber are also a vital and imaginative contribution to the public debate."
Journalist and campaigner Lesley Riddoch said:
"Even their most ardent supporters would have to concede there was precious little policy content to the Labour or Tory election campaigns in Scotland. In the absence of imaginative or constructive alternatives from political parties, Common Weal has stepped in to the breach and given Scots some practical and radical solutions to the structural problems that will keep us "stuck" - whether we continue as a devolved nation or finally become an independent state. All power to their elbow - and this time I hope voters and institutions that care about our future make it there business to digest and respond."
Iain Black, co-founder of Smaug (SNP members against unconventional oil and gas), said:
“Much has been said in the last week regarding the SNP’s loss of seats in the general election and a vital question remains over the role played by its recent policy agenda. In reflecting on this loss the SNP must reflect on whether its policy platforms captures the progressive demands of its post-independence referendum membership surge and those of the voters that trusted it in 2015 to deliver on the radical change promised by the Yes campaign.
“To recapture the independence agenda away from the mechanics of the process and towards the hope of building a better country, the SNP members must ensure its leaders move away from its previously successful strategy of effective managerialism to the strategy demanded by its electorate and the Yes movement: institutional transformation. These 6 policy platforms provide a backbone for this transformation.”

Ian Grant, activist in SNP Edinburgh West:

"I am certain that lack of ambition and excitement in the Scottish Government's programme has been one factor in the SNP's relatively poor result this time.

“Most of Common Weal’s ideas are excellent, in particular the National Investment Bank and re-industrialisation, revitalising our towns, land reform, improving democracy at national and local level. I'd certainly look to break down the big authorities and bring real local democracy to communities- that should be possible if social work is integrated with health and education is increasingly governed at school level. Reform of local tax also is important, with a land value tax.”


Peter Dow's picture

Peter Dow

Thu, 06/15/2017 - 15:08

Good sounding policies intended for implementation AFTER the next Holyrood election will NOT "refresh the Scottish Government's domestic agenda" in time to win that election handsomely nor to win an independence referendum.

Proposing new policies for the next Holyrood election would be as much use now for the SNP in seeing off the Scottish Conservative challenge as re-arranging the deck-chairs on the Titanic was.

ICE BERG Ruth Davidson looms and the SNP must IMMEDIATELY change course to avoid Tory lies that can sink the good ship SNP.

The SNP Government must both
* do "the day-job" better and
* blame the Tories for the lack of money being spent on government services


A good new chair of the Scottish Police Authority should aim to transform Police Scotland from a failing, heavy-handed force whose badly-led officers are obstructing patriotic and productive Scots in our duties.

In future, Police Scotland must insist that its officers have
* Strong community and customer focus
* Problem solving skills;
* Respect and understanding of equality and diversity

Bad police officers who have arrested and made political prisoners of republicans for harmless political tweets are NOT focusing on community needs, are CAUSING problems NOT "solving" problems and they DON'T respect or understand that republicans deserve to have our political views respected and understood, no less than the well known views of royalists.

Chief Constable Phil Gormley is one such bad police officer so he should be sacked and that is what I would do if appointed as Chair of the Scottish Police Authority.


A "Scottish National Investment Bank" set up today would be useless without being capitalised with £ billions a year of NEW government money.

Those additional £ billions a year are not available now because foolishly the SNP Government has agreed to a Fiscal Framework Agreement in Febuary 2016 which prevents the borrowing of that new money from the central bank, the Bank of England, with permission of the UK Treasury.

So long as that Fiscal Framework Agreement remains agreed then it is not logical to blame ONLY the Tories for the lack of additional borrowing powers.

So to blame the Tories ALONE for the limited fiscal framework the SNP Scottish Government must first formally DISAGREE and REPUDIATE that fiscal framework agreement.

Only then will the SNP be able coherently to blame the Tories for banning the Scottish government from borrowing £ billions a year more to spend on doing "the day job" better.

Deryck de Maine...

Thu, 06/15/2017 - 17:58

I fully support the idea of a Scottish National Investment Bank However I distinctly remember being in Holyrood a few years back - abut 2013 or 14 I think at the launch of something like this Can anyone comment on what that was?

Also Peter Dow referred to "bad" Police Officers including Ch C Peter Gormely. I wonder if Peter or anyone else who knows could contact me directly. I would like to investigate this further. I can be contacted on or through my FB page Deryck Beaumont Many thanks

Fiona McOwan

Thu, 06/15/2017 - 20:10

National Investment Bank is great idea but how will it be funded at it's inception?

Peter Dow's picture

Peter Dow

Thu, 06/15/2017 - 20:58

@Deryck de Maine...
Wikipedia - "Phil Gormley"

What I referred to by

"Bad police officers who have arrested and made political prisoners of republicans for harmless political tweets are NOT focusing on community needs, are CAUSING problems NOT "solving" problems and they DON'T respect or understand that republicans deserve to have our political views respected and understood, no less than the well known views of royalists."

was the time when, in July 2016, I was locked up in a police cell by Chief Constable Phil Gormley's officers in a police custody centre in Aberdeen over the weekend, from Friday morning to Monday morning, as I described at the time.

Peter Dow's Political Defence Blog - TUESDAY, 5 JULY 2016
"Out after 3 days in police custody. In court again tomorrow."

This was in connection with an alleged breach of bail conditions following my release on bail after being charged for harmless republican (anti-Queen) tweets which were allegedly "abusive or threatening".

See my blog posts
My tweets were political rhetoric - not a "threat" nor a "crime"!

'Freedom fighter' threatened Queen - front page news

I was found "guilty" and fined £500

Sentenced to £500 fine @ £20 a month for harmless tweets

I will email you as well with this information.

Ben Wray's picture

Ben Wray

Wed, 06/21/2017 - 13:20

Hi Fiona, thanks for comment – we outline a funding plan for a Scottish National Investment Bank here, which involves using a less than 10% of Scotland’s capital budget for six years as subscribed capital, which can then be leveraged by the bank and be the base capital for the establishment of a bank bond, which would attract private investors. 

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