Delegates at the SNP conference backed further work on the Common Weal concept promoted by the left-wing Jimmy Reid Foundation.

Common Weal advocates importing economic and social policies from Scandinavia and Germany to make Scotland wealthier and fairer.

It supports a break with a UK economic model based on low wages, low skills and over-reliance on the retail and financial sectors, and a change to a more diverse economy in which the state fosters high-skill, high-wage jobs to help reduce inequality.

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Common Weal also supports an enlarged welfare state, with cradle-to-grave public services, paid for through a higher overall tax take raised from a more buoyant economy.

Robin McAlpine, director of the Jimmy Reid Foundation, who will brief Labour MSPs on Common Weal later this month, said: "The warmth and enthusiasm of the response we've had to Common Weal at the SNP conference has been amazing.

''There is now a very strong consensus across the whole independence movement that the goal is to build a Scotland along Common Weal principles of equality, industry and compassion. Our job now is to widen that consensus wider still. Whatever the referendum result, Scotland is ready for change."

But the Tories last night attacked the SNP's chief whip for calling Coalition ministers "rats" in a conference speech on Common Weal.

Bill Kidd referred to Jimmy Reid's famous 1972 speech about the rat race being for rats, not people. He said: "We know where the rats exist though. They're the ones that are forcing people in a country that's the sixth richest in the world into going to food banks. They're the ones that are spending money on nuclear weapons. They're the ones that are holding back society in the 19th century instead of leading it proudly into the 21st century."

He later confirmed that by rats he had meant the Coalition Government.

Scottish Conservative chief whip John Lamont said it was a sign of desperation.

"To describe those in favour of remaining part of the UK as 'rats' is nothing short of embarrassing and the language of a party running out of anything positive to say."

A UK Government spokeswoman said: "The coalition came together in the national interest to deal with the economic mess we inherited. While parties may disagree with policy choices, resorting to name-calling does the referendum debate a disservice.

"The public deserves better."