The Scottish Election is upon us, but sometimes it feels like the nation’s political debate has been about anything except the big policy ideas that we should be debating. Scotland is better than this; we are a country which is rich with groups and individuals thinking big thoughts about our future and Common Weal is only one of them.
But we have produced an enormous amount of inspiring policy work since the last Holyrood election and together it paints a picture of a Scotland that truly is better than it is now.
This paper simply sets out eight of the big ideas we think Scotland should be talking about in this election and gives details of the wealth of policy papers which build up these ideas almost all of which can be done in the next Parliament or at least can have the groundwork laid down so that Scotland can start them the moment it becomes an independent country.
― Resilient Recovery. We must emerge from the Covid pandemic in a way that fixes the problems raised by the crisis, fixes the problems evident before the crisis and makes us resilient to future crisis like the climate emergency. Based on our Resilience series.
― Green New Deal. Averting the climate emergency means more than just hitting a "net zero" target. It is also about making our economies sustainable in so many other ways and doing so in a way that reduces inequality and hardship. Based on Our Common Home Plan.
― A New Democracy. Scotland is the least locally democratic country in Europe and the institutions of our Government are frayed and strained in many places. We should develop a functioning system of local democracy, a Citizens' Chamber to oversee Parliament and improve transparency at all levels of government.
― A National Care Service. Scotland needs a National Care Service that matches the ambition of the National Health Service, that is fully publicly owned, free at the point of need and can offer full training and proper pay to all staff. See our papers on the impact of Covid on Care Homes, our submission to the Feeley Review, the Manifesto for an NCS and our proposals to reform Social Work.
― Land Reform. Fewer than 500 people own half of Scotland. 700,000 acres are owned by tax haven companies. We can't build our rural economies or fight climate change if we can't access the land under our feet. Land Reform must happen now. See our Land Reform Week for more information.
― Housing Revolution. Scotland's housing sector is badly broken. We don't build anywhere near enough social housing, which allows private rents to skyrocket. The houses we do build are cold and expensive to heat, we can't access the land to build them at affordable rates and the way we tax buildings is based on valuations more than a quarter of a century out of date.
― Taking Control of Our Energy. Scotland's potential for renewable energy generation is world-leading but we aren't yet making the best of it. Common Weal has produced a wealth of papers on the changes that need to happen to reach that potential.
― Better Banking. Scottish communities were being cut off from banking and basic financial services even before the pandemic. This trend has only accelerated. Without those services, local economies cannot function and the communities are soon left behind. We have a blueprint for a publicly-owned, mutually-controlled bank that could support all communities in Scotland.
And finally, the next Parliament will almost certainly see the topic of independence intensify. Everything we've suggested above can be at least started using the powers of devolution but to complete the job - especially the Green New Deal - Scotland will need to become independent and will need to do it right. Should the government in Westminster seek to oppose an independence referendum, then we must have a plan to make one happen regardless.