by Robin McAlpine | 26 Jun 2021
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I need your help. This site is about holding power to account in Scotland and offering hope things can change. But alone I don’t have the expertise or knowledge to do it properly. I need people who know what is going on and who can explain it to others – but I also need your ideas and suggestions.
You can find out more about what I’m looking for below and then get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’m still Head of Strategic Development at Common Weal but I’ve reduced my hours to enable me to do this website (and live on a low income anyway). So if you can afford to help me out with a small regular donation then that would be great. This site will always be free to read and will never involve a paywall.
This site is about equipping people with knowledge. Too often we assume that we all know what we’re each talking about and too often it’s not true. It’ll really help if people who’re interested in this site ask me the questions that they feel they would benefit from knowing the answer to which would help me shape the content. Don’t be shy – no daft questions and all that. And I’ll try and provide answers in what I’m putting up on here the best I can…
Perhaps you have a specific thought on what what be useful for you or others that I could try and source or put together for the site – an explainer you’d particularly like to see, a subject you’d like an analysis of or a topic you’d like to hear a conversation about. Just send it in and I’ll see what I can do…
I don’t have time to do a proper moderation on comments so I just don’t have them activated on the site – but it doesn’t mean I don’t want feedback. As well as questions and suggestions you can send me a ‘letter’ and if there’s enough interest in sending these I’ll do a ‘letters section’. Just send me short emails (no more than about 500 words) with reactions to things on the site or short arguments you want to make. Keep it constructive and keep the tone as positive as you possibly can given the state of things in Scotland.
You might work in the public or private sector in Scotland or in one of it’s institution and therefore have good knowledge about a subject – so let people know what is going on in your field. Or you might have policy expertise or practical experience which means you can dissect new public policy or initiatives and explain their merits (or otherwise) to others. If so, write me an analysis piece. Analyses aim to be shorter and sharper (up to 1,000 words) and written for an interested but non-expert audience who want to understand why something is happening, to tell them what is going on or to help them make a judgement about whether they should feel positive about new initiatives. Generally I’d rather include a byline and biography (just a sentence or two) but I understand that it can be difficult for whistleblowers or where people are prevented from writing publicly for other reasons. If you explain why and let me know about you I’ll definitely consider publishing anonymously.
There are never too many good ideas – so if you’ve got one, send me it. It could be policy, strategy or some kind of interesting initiative. Write it up with the minimum commentary and in the fewest possible words and avoid jargon – so people can understand what you’re getting at. I’ll put good ones in the idea’s section.
The world is full of opinions and there are so many places to publish them (and I’ve only got a limited time to curate this site), but there is never enough interesting, innovative, relevant and thoughtful opinion writing. So if you’ve got something to say, send me it. Try and think of things that you wouldn’t expect to see ten times over in other places (new angles on a subject or a view of a subject rarely covered) and always try to be concise and make it a pleasure to read. But don’t let me put you off – I’ve always been keen to encourage new writers. If you want to can send me an idea for an opinion piece and see what I think.
If you happen to be a filmmaker or fancy taking a shot at doing podcasts along the lines of what is on this site you could always send me something to have a look at. Editing video and audio content is time-intensive to to be blunt please only send things that are of a high quality or where the content is really strong. But if it’s good I’d love to give it an airing.
Finding good things to read isn’t as easy as it should be – so if there is good writing in other places that you think visitors to this site would benefit from reading, send me a link and I might be able to check it out and put it in the Elsewhere section. I’m also happy to plug events or initiatives if you send me the details.
About this website
Hi, I’m Robin McAlpine and this site is about trying to hold power to account in Scotland, help people understand what’s really going on and provide some kind of hope that it might actually change. You can find out all about it below.
My name is Robin McAlpine and everything I’m doing with this website is purely in a personal capacity. I graduated from Glasgow University and then worked in journalism, political strategy and lobbying. In 2010 I decided to give up a well-paid career to try and do something to change Scotland for the better, setting up first the Jimmy Reid Foundation think tank and then after that Common Weal. I am still Head of Strategic Development at Common Weal and as committed to the work we’re doing there as I’ve always been. I was a very active campaigner in the 2014 independence referendum and have campaigned on many social, environmental and economic issues over the years.
Scotland is in a mess – it’s media woefully under-powered, it’s institutions opaque and little scrutinised, its policy agenda pitifully unimaginative and of course underneath all this a seemingly endless range of social, environmental and economic failures which simply never seem to change or go away. I’ve always believed that the first step in changing something is understanding it. I started this website because there just isn’t enough serious interested in holding power to account or taking seriously the public policy which shapes our lives. So I’m going to try and do the best I can to remedy some of this here.
For the last decade I’ve been trying to change Scotland by developing realistic, innovative and courageous policy ideas and I will continue to do that with Common Weal. But a time came when I couldn’t really pretend any longer that the closed ‘governing classes’ of Scotland were interested in change, comfortable as they are in their little empires. If people better understood how this governing class is really governing Scotland I believe the momentum for change would grow. I’ve focussed on positive and constructive ideas about the future – but I fear that without a cold, hard look at the present they’ll always remain just ideas. Plus frankly I believe that, for the record if nothing else, the abuse of power must be recorded.
Since my pram I’ve been dragged on CND marches, to protests about injustice and to meetings about Scotland’s independence. My memories of these were about people who wanted to change things together – who would disagree, sometimes profoundly, but who could put aside disagreements to try and make things better, to get things to happen. We seem to be living in an age where disagreeing makes us enemies and I hate it. I believe that there is common cause to be found if only we could stop permanently looking for the flaws in each other. When I set up Common Weal I created the tagline ‘All Of Us First’ and this captures what I hoped for – a society where it’s about everyone gaining, not just those you agree on obtuse detail. I know that we build more when we build together and that Scotland’s only hope of the future it deserves is if we do exactly that – build together and forgive each other for not being perfect. As I write on this site I will develop the philosophy which underpins how I feel about the world. I’m doing this because Scotland needs scrutiny to change – but what Scotland does not need is more petty name-calling or purity-measuring. Or that’s what I believe anyway.
I have reduce my working hours with Common Weal to enable me to do this so I’m never going to say no to a little financial help. But mostly I want your ideas and energy – and expertise where you have it. You can find out more on the Contribute page.
You can send me things to help shape the site by emailing me at email@example.com or just get in contact at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Help make this site possible with a small donation. This site will always be free to read and will never involve a paywall.