AFTER years of consistent feedback from their members asking for hope, Common Weal published their latest book in November.

The 285-page handbook illustrates opportunities for Scotland with free, expansive and limitless thinking. It is based on a decade of work by Common Weal, and by organisations and authors the think tank is close to.

Sorted: A Handbook for a Better Nation isn’t to convince or provide arguments, it’s to give hope and inspiration to Scots.

It was funded by donations through a crowdfunding push, with more than 400 supporters contributing to raise £14,965 in 28 days.

The think tank increased the amount of money which they said would allow them to double the print run to 1000 initial copies with any surplus funding set to help fund Common Weal's core policy development activities.

Readers are instructed to put themselves in an alternative reality in the first few pages: “This book … imagines we are at the start of the first 10 years of Scotland being an independent country.”

That’s exciting, right?

Readers are encouraged to read at their own pace, dropping in and out of topics or revisit the book for answers to questions concerning Scotland.

The introduction does read like a letter to the reader, which is incredibly apt after it being inspired by their members requesting hope and contributing to its publication.

All of Us First

The book begins with putting forward an idea of a country that puts “All of Us First”.

The handbook states: “For 40 years we lived in a Me First world - and we all came second. It is time to build a Scotland that puts All Of Us First.”

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This is the essence of the rest of the book and the bottom line for each point.

Democracy, industry and resources are amongst the 19 chapters, each focusing on a topic under the light of possibility. Education and wellbeing are the chapters which seemed closest to our reality, but still paint a picture of hope and further possibility for future generations.

Throughout the handbook are images created by Charity May and Lauren Boyle. One illustration shows a neighbourhood being appreciated by a resident; a simple, everyday moment made brighter by the chapter describing what could be possible for Scots’ living standards.

The National: Illustrations from Sorted: A Handbook for a Better ScotlandIllustrations from Sorted: A Handbook for a Better Scotland (Image: Common Weal)

Blind, hopeful optimism?

The vision of this independent country does feel like a reality by the end of the chapters. The detail and research put into the book isn’t immediately apparent without usual academic references littering the page.

The initial lack of references threw me off, and I wondered if this vision was based on a blind, hopeful optimism. I even fact checked a few resources myself as I struggled to buy the possibilities being put before me at times.

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By leaving out the reference footnotes, the book is easier to read and also doesn’t put forward a conscious academic argument. It intelligently provides a bridge between head and heart for both undecided voters and activists.

The reader is ultimately educated on topics ranging from how to save the NHS to the climate crisis, linking round to tackling poverty. The connections between each topic and their knock-on effects would inspire any activist to recognise the urgency of independence.

The book is available to buy online HERE.