Common Weal believes in Scottish independence – but we believe it is essential to get it right. It’s not enough to tell people independence would be ‘good for them’, you have to explain how it would be done and be ready to answer your questions. That’s what Common Weal did with the White Paper Project, a programme of commissioning and producing reports which led to a proper plan being published as How To Start A New Country.
The fastest way to get up to speed with How To Start A New Country is to watch this seven-minute video because the volume of work behind it is enormous.
We published reports on
- currency options
- dividing the UK’s assets and debts
- starting a currency
- sorting out borders and customs
- creating foreign currency reserves
- setting up a social security system
- building a new tax system
- starting a central bank
- upgrading IT systems
- starting an immigration system
- establishing national defence
- writing a constitution
- dealing with monetary policy issues
- and dealing with fiscal policy issues
In the book we cover even more including how to join the European Union, how to recruit the personnel needed to do all of this and how to project manage a project of this scale.
But it is easy to summarise the philosophy behind this work. Common Weal is a left of centre think tank which wants to change society, but we are also Scotland’s only independence-supporting think tank. For this project we took off the first hat and put on the latter – as a matter of principle we must build the new Scotland for everyone, not just independence supporters and not just people who like Common Weal’s vision. How To Start A New Country is not a vision of the Scotland we could build with independence, it is a policy-neutral examination of how to build the detail of the foundations of a nation which would serve any incoming political administration irrespective of its political position.
This is not all that Common Weal has done on the constitutional question. We have published a report on why it is that a federal solution isn’t workable in the UK because one partner would have 80 per cent of the votes in a federal parliament (the report is call An Unequal Kingdom. Common Weal has also led on the economics of an independent Scotland, doing the work on why looking at the balance sheet of Scotland as a region of the UK is mistaken and instead building a model of what Scotland’s finances would actually look like if it was independent (in Beyond GERS). It was also Common Weal which did the work to show just what a terrible mistake the SNP’s Growth Commission was for the cause of independence, taking apart its ill-thought-through proposals in The Silver Chain.
Of course none of this counts if we don’t have a strategy for delivering independence – so Common Weal has published of those two. Within Our Grasp (and its shorter summary paper) explain how countries actually become independent in law, how this applies to Scotland, the routes for achieving this legal recognition and the campaign approaches which would get us there.