News of what's going on in radical politics in Scotland.

Scottish Laugh Review

Apr 14, 2014 Add a comment

Scottish Left Review and the Jimmy Reid Foundation invite you to a gala afternoon of Lefty stand-up in Glasgow, May 3rd, the Stand Comedy Club, 333 Woodlands Road, from 4pm onwards.

Join us for a star-studded line-up including Bruce Morton, Susie McCabe, Gary Little, Vladimir McTavish and Elaine C Smith, and help us to fundraise at the same time – smashing!

To book tickets, click here

Join the facebook group and invite friends here.

SLR Issue 81: What do the Euro Elections mean for Scotland?

Mar 19, 2014 Add a comment
available online:
SLR Issue 81: What do the Euro elections mean for Scotland?
Issue Image
In this issue Comment - You would barely think there is an EU election barely two months away for all the profile it has. But ignoring Europe is a mistake.
In this issue Ending Europe’s economic war - Alexis Tsipras is the candidate of the European Left Party for the post of President of the European Commission, which will be elected by the European Parliament following the Elections in May. He outlines his platform.
In this issue Views of Europe - We asked four experts to consider six different questions about the European Union which should shape how Scotland votes in May. Here are the answers they gave.
In this issue It’s Greens versus UKIP - There is likely to be one seat up for grabs in the Euro elections in Scotland and Gary Dunion argues that it’s between teh Scottish Greens and UKIP. And the Scottish Greens are currently only one point behind in the polls.

Also in this issue:

In this issue It isn’t obvious - This April’s STUC Congress will inevitably be dominated by the approaching independence referendum. Grahame Smith makes clear that the STUC will not adopt sides but look for answers on the best future for Scotland.
In this issue A real chance for workers - John Duffy looks at the Reid Foundation paper on industrial democracy he co-authored and sees a genuine hope for real industrial democracy – but that the only chance it will happen is with independence.
In this issue The university challenge - Scotland’s universities have policy-making almost completely devolved to Scotland but they remain part of a UK-wide system. Mary Senior considers what they mean to the independence debate – and Scotland afterwards.
In this issue Hidden crowns - Jim and Margaret Cuthbert argue that at the moment neither side in the independence debate is willing to tell us exactly what powers our undemocratic Monarchy would have. This simply isn’t good enough.
In this issue Review - NORDIC LIGHTS: Work, Management and Welfare in Scandinavia

Upcoming ‘Scotland Matters’ Events

Mar 09, 2014 Add a comment

2014 Matters: Energy, Environment & Climate Change

Wednesday, 19 March 2014 from 19:30 to 21:00 (GMT)

Glasgow, United Kingdom


Left to right: Willie Rennie MSP (Leader, Scottish Liberal Democrats), Sarah Boyack MSP (Scottish Labour, former Scottish Environment Minister), Patrick Harvie MSP (Co-convenor, Scottish Greens), Paul Wheelhouse MSP (Minister for Environment and Climate Change, Scottish Government and SNP), Judith Robertson (Director, SeeMe, Chair).

Many energy, environmental and climate change problems are global problems that need not only local solutions, but also concerted global action.  How can Scotland play its part in helping to tackle these issues, as part of a union, or as an independent country?

Does Scotland have all the levers it needs to become a low carbon, sustainable country, where people have access to good quality public transport, cycle and walk places, eat well, live in healthy environments and use clean, secure energy?  Does Scotland use the levers it has already to make this a reality?

Join the debate with representatives from both sides of the referendum campaign, because 2014 matters.



2014 Matters: Scotland’s Place in Building a Just World

Wednesday, 30 April 2014 from 18:30 to 21:00 (BST)

Edinburgh, United Kingdom


Jim Murphy MP, Humza Yousaf MSP

In 2014 Scotland will vote on whether or not to become an independent country. What impact will this have on building a just world and how can all parts of government work to support this aim?

Join Jim Murphy MP, UK Shadow Secretary of State for International Development, and Humza Yousaf MSP, Scottish Government Minister for External Affairs and International Development, and guests for a discussion bringing together our series on Scotland’s Future and making a positive difference in the world.

Please note the start time is not confirmed but will be sent to all registered as soon as available.

  • This event forms part of the 2014 Matters programme exploring global justice and Scotland’s future in the context of the referendum.  Further events will be taking place across the country.  To submit your questions and find out more visit

This event is supported by People & Planet, NIDOS, Jubilee Scotland, Stop Climate Chaos Scotland, WWF, the World Development Movement and Friends of the Earth Scotland. It is hosted by Jubilee Scotland.


Upcoming CND Events

Mar 09, 2014 Add a comment

7 pm Wednesday 12 March – Glasgow CND meeting, 77 Southpark Avenue (side of Wellington Church), Glasgow, G12 8LE. Planning for Spring Walk (1-7 April) and Glasgow march and rally (5 April) – see below.

6 – 9 pm Wednesday 12 March – Leafleting outside Cineworld, 7 Renfrew St, with leaflets on how a Yes vote can lead to nuclear disarmament. With assistance from volunteers from the Radical Independence Campaign. If you can help, come along for when ever you can manage. Phone Steven Griffiths 07842 136555 or John Ainslie 07442 500476, or email

7.30 pm Thursday 13 March – Pub Quiz, Coopers, 499 Great Western Road. Organised by Glasgow Uni CND. Fun with quiz, videas and prizes. All welcome.

Spring Walk – Over 30 people are walking from the Scottish Parliament to Faslane on 1-7 April. Join in or find out more –

A Nuclear Free Scotland is possible – 11 am 5 April George Sq, Glasgow. March and rally. Speakers- Nicola Sturgeon, Patrick Harvie, Lesley Riddoch, Lord Provost Sadie Doherty, Dave Moxham (STUC), Sally Foster-Fulton (Church of Scotland). This is part of the Spring Walk. Please help to publicise this by ordering leaflets and posters from the Scottish CND office (0141 357 1529), or contact Alan Mackinnon (07966 189101)

Don’t Call Me Hero

Mar 05, 2014 Add a comment

‘Who has power in modern Scotland?’ 28th-30th of March

Feb 13, 2014 2 Comments

Changin Scotland

A weekend of politics, culture and ideas …. And fun!

Friday March 28th-Sunday March 30th

The Ceilidh Place, Ullapool


  In association with the Reid Foundation

Friday March 28th



Gerry Hassan and Jean Urquhart


Scotland after the Crash: The Collapse of RBS

Ian Fraser, author, forthcoming ‘Shredded: The Rise and Fall of RBS’


Saturday March 29th


What would imagining a different Scotland look like?

Creative activism, imagination and change facilitated by Joe Lafferty


Social Class, Social Justice and the Issue of Education

Gerry Hassan, author, forthcoming ‘Caledonian Dreaming: The Quest for a Different Scotland’ and Eileen Reid, commentator and writer

12.45-2.00 Lunch



The Shape of Inequality, Housing, Place and Power

Ailsa MacKay, Glasgow Caledonian University and Douglas Robertson, Stirling University



What is Missing from the Scottish Debate?

David Donnison, former Professor of Urban Studies, Glasgow University; author of ‘The Politics of Poverty’ and ‘Speaking to Power’


Radical Scotland? Common Weal and the New Radicals

Cat Boyd, trade union activist, Robin McAlpine, Reid Foundation, Bronagh Gallagher, member, Reid Foundation Commission on Democracy, Jean Urquhart, MSP, Jamie Maxwell, writer and journalist, ‘New Statesman’




The Power of Business Interest Scotland

Craig Harrow, MHP Scotland



What do we do about ideology and Britain?

James Foley, Radical Independence Conference and Jamie Maxwell



What do we do about the Media?

Paul Holleran, NUJ Scottish Organiser

For Bookings, Tickets and Accomodation:
Please Phone The Ceilidh Place Reception: 01854-612103

Cite ‘Changin Scotland’

Weekend Prices: £60 for all weekend events.

Accomodation Booking available from The Ceilidh Place Reception

Scottish Left Review issue 80: Black Scotland

Jan 29, 2014 Add a comment

New Edition of the Scottish Left Review: Issue 80

A special issue given over entirely to black and minority ethnic writers. With Zita Holbourne, Jatin Haria, Eunice Olumide, Soryia Siddique, Humza Yousaf, Naseem Anwar, Zareen Taj, Nina Munday, Ahktar Kahn, Graham Campbell and Chimeze Umeh

Comment – why we produced this special issue

Poem – By Zita Holbourne

Near the start of our journey – Jatin Haria looks at the disconnect between the positive attitude public Scotland has taken to issues of race and the statistical reality. He argues that good intentions are not enough.

No need to be feart – Eunice Olumide argues that Scots may never have a more exciting moment that they have now and that she can see no fear in a wealthy small country like Scotland becoming independent

Mitigating Britain – Soryia Siddique argues that in an independent Scotland groceries would be more expensive and research funding would be cut. Vote no and Labour will offer more devolution.

The Not Just White Paper – Humza Yousaf looks at the Scottish Government’s White Paper and particularly its attitude to immigration and citizenship. He argues that Scotland wants a different approach than the rest of the UK

Mandela and Scotland – The long history of support in Scotland for Nelson Mandela and the anti-apartheid movement is explored by Naseem Anwar who looks at Mandela’s legacy and his relevance today.

Poor, black, woman: the hat-trick of oppression – Zareen Taj argues that gender, class and race are issues that have come together again and again – and that means women have no option but to become political

Looking Back – Nina Munday grew up in Scotland. Looking back from her new life in Singapore she realises that Scotland promised her a level of beloning she doubts she’d have found elsewhere

A tradition of solidarity – Akhtar Khan places Scotland’s support for Palestinians in a tradition of international solidarity stretching back for generations. He argues that this will not change no matter the outcome of the referendum.

The greatest radical speech – Martin Luther King’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech is often interpreted as a predominantly individualistic speech. In fact, argues Graham Campbell, it is the most radical speech of its era.

A tradition of independence – Chimezie Umeh explains that Africans for Independence see the referendum as an extension of African independence struggles

Jacqueline Smith interview – Jacqueline Smith talks about her upcoming debut novel The Witchfinder

Also in this issue:

Buy Common Weal T-Shirts

The People’s Assembly Launch in Scotland

Dec 13, 2013 Add a comment



Saturday 25th of January

11am-2pm (registration 10.45am)

The Renfield Centre, 260 Bath Street, Glasgow

The People’s Assembly Against Austerity was launched in June 2012, London. It was a call to all those millions of people in Britain facing an impoverished and uncertain future with wages, jobs, conditions and welfare provision under renewed attack by the UK government.

The People’s Assembly is now being Launched in Scotland to bring together campaigns against cuts and privatisation and trade-unionists, in a movement for social justice. The People’s Assembly in Scotland aims to develop a strategy for resistance to mobilise people against the coalition government.













All unions, political organisations, activists and campaigns welcome to attend.


All of Us First film

Dec 12, 2013 Add a comment

The Common Weal Project launched a new website with a new film. Thanks to Mogwai for providing the soundtrack.

Scotland needs popular politics

Dec 05, 2013 2 Comments

Robin McAlpine, Reid Foundation Director, explains the purpose of the Common Weal Launch Party this Sunday. The event is free but spaces are limited, click here to register.

We are often very suspicious of popular politics. Evidence of this is our conversion of the word populism from its original meaning. Populism is derived from the word populous and literally means dividing a bigger section of the population against a smaller section. But we use it as an insult of any political policy that has widespread appeal. So we’ve heard in Scotland that universal public services and free education and medicine are ‘populist’. Nope, they’re popular – not the the same thing at all.

You’d almost think the British political establishment wants us to believe that only things that they care about (trade deals, spying, weapons manufacture, protecting financial services) are ‘proper’ and ‘important’ politics. You might get the impression that things that citizens care about (affordable housing, decent pensions, decent jobs, reasonable electricity bills) are self-indulgent whimsy, far removed from the appropriate concerns of a ‘proper’ system of national management.

You might even conclude that the self-important pompousness of Britain’s professional political class is designed to turn off and turn away ‘outsiders’. And by ‘outsider’ I mean ‘citizen’. Yes, how comfortable a position to be in a room with all the power but to have pushed the people you’re supposed to serve out into the corridor.

So is there a place for popular politics, a politics which an average person can have a considered view about? Hell, a politics about which an ordinary person might even get enthusiastic or excited? Well, if there isn’t this isn’t a democracy of citizens. A politics that includes those governed is neither a luxury or a fantasy.

But is it possible? Well, I can certainly give a perspective now that I might not have been able to a year ago. I am probably talking in three or four meetings a week, some academic, some high-level policy but mostly it’s been town halls (hi Kirkaldy, hi, Cumnock, hi West Calder, see you next week Blantyre…). I’ve been talking about how an industrial policy, better use of shared natural resources and a strong welfare state can deliver social and economic outcomes like better jobs, higher pay and better public services. I explain how it is affordable, how it delivers virtuous social and economic outcomes and how we can build a strong national consensus around a different type of politics.

One of the most common reactions I get afterwards is ‘nobody talks to us about this stuff’. Another is ‘I actually understood that’. Good. Economics and indeed social policy is often presented in deliberately obtuse terms, the better to confuse the punters and keep them in the corridor. Well, I’m with Einstein – if you can’t explain it to a seven-year-old you probably haven’t understood it yourself. It is certainly possible to talk to an audience of citizens about economics and it is certainly possible to get them excited about it. It is definitely possible to get them to support a better model for our economy and from what I’ve seen so far you can get them to do more than sit back and endorse it. I’ve had so many people saying ‘I never thought I’d ask a question about economics at a public meeting but could we…’ And honestly, many of the ‘could we’ ideas I’ve heard beat the hell out of anything I can find about Scotland’s economic potential in an IFS report.

So is this just another utopian hope that will come to nothing? Well, not without at least a decent shot at it. On Sunday afternoon in the Arches in Glasgow we are launching a new ‘visual ID” (sorry, I just can’t find a better term). Yes, it’s a logo. But it definitely aims to be more than that. It is an image that represents a hope for a better society (it is an image to represent balance) and it is designed to be able to live outside the realms of professional politics (if you wanted and if you weren’t breaking the law, you could spray it on a wall in under 15 seconds). It is designed to work as a way of creating excitement – it is designed to work with words and images that can inspire. So to kick off we’ve got t-shirts with inspiring slogans written for us by Alan Bisset, Liz Lochhead, Louise Welsh and James Robertson. We’re launching a film that explains how politics can give people hope again.

And we’re launching a new website for Common Weal. We’ve tried to find a way to say ‘not neoliberal, social democracy’ or ‘not free market capitalism, Nordic welfare economics’ because too few people understand these terms. So we are using ‘not me first, all of us first’. And that is set to become our message: Common Weal: all of us first. Handily, no-one seems to have wanted those domain names so on Sunday morning (hopefully, if we all don’t sleep…) you can see what a popular politics might look like on

We’re all very excited about this. The people at Tangent design agency (who have done everything for this for nothing) have created something that I think really can live beyond and outside the politics pages of the Herald or the Scotsman. Bluntly, the media establishment have barely noticed what is really happening out in Scottish politics just now anyway. If we can build a movement that speaks to ordinary people and which ordinary people want to speak about, we can all – between us – take control of the political agenda in Scotland.

We’re nearly full – more than 600 of our 750 places are already booked. If you want to come click here to register (it’s free). Bruce Morton is doing some jokes, Karine Polwart is singing a couple of songs, Stuart Braithwaite of Mogwai is DJing and there will be more. Plus you can get a drink and buy a t-shirt.

Personally, I’m tired of pleading with the mainstream to allow a debate about politics which is not wholly-owned and managed by them. If we can reach people who want change but are sick of politics-as-usual, if we can get them talking, we may no longer have to plead.

Imagine that. A nation run by its citizens. It could catch on.