Launching the vision of Common Weal

By Simon Barrow
December 8, 2013

On Sunday 8 December 2013 I am happy to be joining some 700 people in Glasgow for a celebratory Common Weal launch event, hosted by the pioneering Jimmy Reid Foundation.

Common Weal "is an emerging movement which is developing a vision for economic and social development in Scotland which is distinct and different from the political orthodoxy that dominates politics and economics in Westminster."

It is based on the conviction that we will get better outcomes for both society and individuals if we emphasise mutuality and equity rather than conflict and inequality.

All of this can be captured in one simple phrase: to build more, we must share more.

The term Common Weal comes from the old Scots term, which carries the meanings of both ‘shared wealth’ and ‘our wellbeing is common to us all’. These values are strong both in Scottish history and in contemporary Scottish life.

Many people who support a Common Weal vision favour Scottish self-government (independence), as I do, though some do not. The aim is to create a programme for the economic and social transformation of Scotland. That programme will outline what powers are needed to achieve change and where they are held. It is then for others to explain how they would achieve this vision in their preferred constitutional outcome in September 2014.

Robin MacAlpine, Director of the Jimmy Reid Foundation and author of No Idea: Control, Liberation and the Social Imagination, explains: "We’re launching a new website for Common Weal. We’ve tried to find a way to say ‘not neoliberal, but social democracy’ or ‘not free market capitalism, but 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 you can see what a popular politics might look like here.

"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, they’ve 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." There is more here:

Ekklesia is pleased to have made a small contribution to the Common Weal launch, which, from our perspective, resonates in a number of respects with 'Common Wealth: Christians for economic and social justice', the statement on theology and a just society published in 2010 in response to the coalition government's welfare / social security cuts and and its mostly empty Big Society rhetoric (

There is also, incidentally, a longstanding North American journal (founded in 1924) called Common Weal, focusing on the interactions of religion, politics and culture. It is edited by lay Catholics and based at The Interchurch Center in New York City (

* The new Common Weal website:

* Common Weal:

* At the JRF:

* More on Scottish independence from Ekklesia:


© Simon Barrow is co-director of Ekklesia. You can follow him on Twitter @simonbarrow and at Rebel Mouse

Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.