THE Common Weal project for a healthier, wealthier and more equal Scotland is to become a think tank in its own right after an acrimonious split from its original founders.

The project, which has developed an alternative economic and social model for Scotland based on policies from the Nordic countries, was originally run under the auspices of the left-wing Jimmy Reid Foundation.

But there has been growing friction between foundation director Robin McAlpine, who believes he has grown Common Weal from an idea into a movement, and the foundation's convener Bob Thomson and the late Jimmy Reid's family.

The Reid family this weekend issued a letter to directors of the company behind the foundation calling for an urgent financial review of the foundation's "far-from-transparent" finances.

The letter also referred to the family's concern about a long-standing "bitter internal dispute" and "disarray" at the foundation.

McAlpine, 41, is now leaving the foundation to set up Common Weal as a standalone, non-profit enterprise, which he is expected to run.

A new board is lined up, and will hold its first meeting this month.

Unlike the Reid Foundation, which had no position on the referendum, the board is overwhelmingly Yes supporting.

Among those taking part are Cat Boyd of Radical Independence, Ross Colquhoun of National Collective, architect Malcolm Fraser, writer Pat Kane, gender studies academic Lesley Orr, Ivan McKee of Business for Scotland, Bella Caledonia blogger Mike Small, Compass Scotland's Willie Sullivan, and NHS for Yes surgeon Dr Philippa Whitford.

Early aims include establishing a policy unit, producing a regular magazine, and creating a network of cafes-cum-meeting places to maintain public interest in ­progressive politics awakened by the referendum debate. McAlpine admits his "think-and-do-tank" model has not been tried before, but said it was essential for Common Weal to keep going whatever the referendum result.

However, McAlpine's departure comes against a backdrop of internal rows and claims his vision was inconsistent with the foundation's non-partisan objectives.

The foundation and the Common Weal have no legal status, but come under the umbrella of Left Review Scotland Ltd, which contracts McAlpine's services as a consultant.

On Friday, the family of the late Jimmy Reid sent the company's three directors - who do not include McAlpine, but include his mother Isobel Lindsay - a letter outlining concerns about the foundation.

The family said the body set up in the celebrated trade unionist's name had "strayed far" from its original objectives and claimed the firm's directors "do not know the financial position of the Jimmy Reid Foundation". They added: "We wish the financial affairs of the company to be reviewed by an independent chartered accountant as a matter of urgency."

The family also called for shares in Left Review Scotland Ltd still in the name of Jimmy Reid, to be transferred to them within 30 days, with a threat of legal action.

McAlpine denied he had been ejected from the foundation because of clashes, and denied the new Common Weal venture was an "ego trip" for him. He said the break was amicable and there were now talks on "transitional arrangements", such as splitting cash.

"I have spent my career avoiding being famous or the centre of things. The only reason I've developed any profile is because people come to meetings. It's not me. The enthusiasm is for Common Weal."

Tory economy spokesman Murdo Fraser said: "This is typical of the schisms we have seen on the left for decades. You can't really expect Common Weal to convince the rest of Scotland of their radical socialist agenda when they can't even agree among themselves."