This is the second part of a three-part plan for creating greater economic, social and environmental resilience in Scotland and focusses on the four- year period of the next Scottish Parliament. It contains too many individual recommendations to summarise all of them here. At the same time it does not cover a number of areas which require much more space to cover than is possible here – not least the need for a National Care System (which will be covered in a forthcoming Common Weal report). These are some of the key points:
Over this period Scotland should accelerate economic transformation by creating an industrial strategy for green reindustrialisation in Scotland, using the full set of policy tools available in Scotland to support green manufacturing and other forms of production.
This will not only create high-pay jobs and increase national prosperity,
it will also transform Scotland into a ‘circular economy’ in which our economic activity does not do damage to our environment – or to anyone else’s environment either.
To make this happen will require extensive public interventions in banking, infrastructure, energy, food, transport and training and organisational development, each designed to create the best possible condition for the transition to take place and to lead to the creation of new high-quality jobs as quickly as possible.
A National Pharmaceutical Company should be set up to provide Scotland’s NHS with inexpensive medicines and to act as a manufacturing hub more generally, producing high-quality medical equipment in Scotland – including PPE.
The Council Tax should be replaced with a fairer Property Tax which also taxes land, to finance local development and to incentivise the productive use of land
Scotland should undergo major democratic reform, particularly to introduce a dynamic system of local democracy, but also to move Scotland into a transformational new phase of participatory democracy. This should be accompanied by a much stronger commitment to a system of transparency and accountability and new ways of making policy.
This decentralisation will enable a much greater focus on both localism and ‘placemaking’. The Plan proposes specific action programmes for town regeneration and for a rural and coastal industrial strategy based around green reindustrialisation. This will involve major reform of the fishing industry in Scotland to bring jobs back to Scottish communities.
To enable all of this Scotland will need a radical programme of land reform to provide adequate access to essential natural resources which provide the basis for much of what is in this Plan.
The Plan then focusses on how to improve social and community cohesion, democratic and social participation and how to ensure that the sense of civic duty which was so evident during the Covid crisis is embedded into public life.
This will need a much greater focus on what really creates wellbeing, not least the need to move away from GDP as the primary measure of economic success and the wellbeing benefits of deconsumerisation.
This phase of the Plan also acts as an ‘incubator phase’ of a full Green New Deal. Much can be done under devolution and this is all covered
in this report, but crucial things are not possible with the power of independence. The three big ones – decarbonising heating, electricity and transport – cannot be achieved under devolution. However, each of these involves large engineering projects which have a long lead time of three or four years. It is perfectly within the powers of devolution to get these projects shovel-ready.
However, this will represent the limits of what is possible in Scotland under devolution. At this point Common Weal believes that Scotland must choose either to continue on this economic and social path or to revert to following the economic and environmental strategy being pursued at a UK level. For this reason a detailed proposal for how Scottish independence will be achieved will be prepared and this will be put to the people of Scotland not later than year three of this Parliament. Those who support the objectives of this Plan but do not support independence will be encouraged to explain what steps they believe can then be taken.