POWERS to bring businesses into public ownership and create hundreds of workers' co-ops are at the heart of a radical new left-wing vision for Scotland's future.

The Red Paper on Scotland 2014 takes inspiration from the Basque Country and other parts of Europe where worker-owned co-operatives employ tens of thousands of people.

In the new book, Professor John Foster of the University of the West of Scotland, and Richard Leonard of the GMB union argue that a move to create co-ops would provide more secure jobs and fairer wages.

They cite the Mondragon Co-operative Corporation in the Basque Country of Spain, which is made up of 258 co-operative enterprises and other bodies and employs more than 83,000 people, as a model for Scotland to follow.

A similar network in Emilia Romagna, Northern Italy, employs 80,000 workers. The figure has soared since Italy introduced laws guaranteeing generous state help for workers seeking to buy closure-threatened firms.

Both networks have weathered the financial crisis better than private firms, the authors argue.

They say: "Localised and co-operatively organised interventions have enabled particular regions within Europe to resist the worst effects of the crisis - though not in Scotland.

"It is not without irony that the home of the Fenwick weavers and of Robert Owen boasts today one of the smallest number of worker co-operative businesses in Europe."

The most recent estimates suggest fewer than 300 people are employed in Scotland's 30 or so workers' co-ops.

In another example, the Red Paper calls for widespread community ownership of Scottish football clubs, looking to examples from elsewhere in Europe. Bayern Munich is 82%-owned by fans, while Barcelona is fully owned by its supporters.

Labour Party researcher David Shaw argues: "If it values its soul, Scottish football will eschew the English model".

He says fans should be at the heart of decision-making, as in Germany, adding: "Football clubs are ideal candidates for the community ownership model."

The ideas are behind proposals to devolve extensive new powers to Holyrood.

Under the plans, ministers could in "appropriate circumstances" also bring land and businesses into public ownership, in a move designed to avert devastating economic blows such as the closure last year of the Hall's of Broxburn meat factory.

It is argued Holyrood should also receive sweeping new tax powers - which could be used more flexibly than under earlier "Devo Max" or "Devo Plus" proposals - and a vastly increased national borrowing limit.

The package would come as ties between Westminster and the devolved administrations in Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast loosened in a new federal UK.

The proposals by the Red Paper group of trade unionists and left-wing politicians and academics is heavily influenced by the Labour First Minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones, who has been "considerably more thoughtful on the future of the UK than we have seen from the Labour Party leadership in Scotland," according to editor and Campaign for Socialism member Pauline Bryan.

His "democratic federalist arrangement," she claims, could provide a lasting constitutional model for the UK and stop politicians becoming "bogged down in the politics of structure" for years to come if Scots vote No in next year's referendum.

She writes: "It would safeguard the ability to redistribute wealth within the UK and allow the labour movements in the whole of the UK to collaborate in resisting attacks on working people.

"It would reduce the extent of the London-centric nature of the Westminster Parliament which is as damaging to Lancashire as it is to Lanarkshire."