Socialist Worker

Glasgow's Common Weal festival sets out vision for progressive Scotland

by Josh Brown
Issue No. 2411

Around 800 people attended the Festival of the Common Weal in Glasgow on Sunday of last week.

It was a day of live music, comedy, poetry, art, and talks organised to promote a progressive vision for Scotland.

A consistently packed room addressed issues such as democracy and political engagement, banking, climate change, the media, trade unions, and the political landscape after the referendum.

The Jimmy Reid Foundation, which organises the Common Weal progressive think thank, is the largest and most active force (outside of the government) developing policy proposals for the future of Scotland.

The event echoed the way that Scotland has come alive with political debate in the run up to the independence vote. The Foundation does not take a position on independence but most of its authors write in the context of independence and a large majority believe that Scotland needs independence.

The Common Weal project is designed to generate policies that can be pursued whatever the result of the Scottish referendum. Its name is an old Scots phrase meaning wealth shared in common and for the wellbeing of all.

Robin McAlpine, director of the Jimmy Reid Foundation, opened the festival, saying, "We need a political vehicle to make sure our ideas and priorities are put into policy." Despite their being no talk or workshop dedicated to this crucial topic, it certainly was a recurring issue at the event.

Stephen Smellie, deputy convener of Unison Scotland, who recently announced he supports a Yes vote, said, “The referendum debate has gotten some trade unions in Scotland thinking about what kind of society we want to live in and what powers we need to achieve that.

“Workers should look to themselves, no one else will look after their needs and interest as well."


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