THE Common Weal vision of a fairer, more equal Scotland based on the Nordic model has been unanimously endorsed by the SNP's councillors, adding to the pressure on the party hierarchy to incorporate in into official policy.
The Association of Nationalist Councillors, the body for all 411 SNP councillors, backed the scheme at its annual conference last week.
The seal of approval followed a presentation by Robin McAlpine, director of the Jimmy Reid Foundation, which has promoted Common Weal as a contribution to the independence debate.
Last month, McAlpine outlined Common Weal to the annual "away day" of SNP MSPs who, like the councillors, were enthusiastic about the idea, but did not go as far as a formal vote.
Common Weal, which has been proposed by a group of academics and economists, most on the Left, proposes a fundamental change in Scotland's economy in order recast the country's society.
Instead of the insecure, low-pay, low-skill jobs market central to the UK economic model, its advocates want far greater state investment in education, training and loans to business in order to create more high-skill, high-pay jobs.
The resulting uplift in tax take would then be used to invest in greater public services, including an expanded welfare system designed to minimise inequalities in society.
Since its launch six months ago, Common Weal has tried to fill the vision gap left by the Yes and No sides in the referendum debate, by offering a picture of what Scotland could become if it borrowed many of the progressive policies of Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Germany.
East Lothian councillor Paul McLennan, convener of the councillors' association, said: "We were all enthused by what Robin had to say, and there was unanimous support from the floor."
He said Common Weal had the potential to inspire a broad swathe of society, not just SNP voters. "The independence referendum for me is about asking what kind of Scotland we want," he said. "Common Weal is one of the visions for that. It's a very welcome addition to the debate."
The councillors' backing comes amid mixed messages from the SNP leadership on Common Weal.
Some ministers, notably Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, are understood to be keen. And at First Minister's Questions on Thursday, Alex Salmond praised "our neighbours and friends in Scandinavia, who have managed to build more prosperous and more equal societies".
However, others, such as Finance Secretary John Swinney, are understood to feel frustrated by Common Weal cutting across their own plans.
One senior MSP said: "John knows Common Weal is popular, but he's also got a lot of things he wants to do himself, and he's pretty fastidious. "I think elements of Common Weal will be adopted, but it won't be done wholesale."
Robin McAlpine added: "Common Weal speaks to a genuinely wide audience and politicians at all levels are not only very sympathetic, but are actively helping us to make this agenda a core part of Scottish political debate."
Tory enterprise spokesman Murdo Fraser said: "This is another sign the SNP are warming towards a Scandinavian-style economy in Scotland, which of course means massive tax hikes for millions of hard-working families. I can't imagine John Swinney and other ministers focused on delivering an enterprising Scotland and attracting wealth creators will view this agenda with much enthusiasm."