A NEW group has been launched within the SNP to pursue a new Green Deal for Scotland and enable party activists to share and debate progressive policies to make the country greener, fairer and healthier.

The SNP Common Weal Group (CWG), launched today, comes with a declaration signed by 60 party activists, including: MPs Angus MacNeil, Kenny MacAskill, Anne McLaughlin and Chris Stephens; MSPs Angela Constance and Alex Neil; and figures such as The National columnists George Kerevan and Paul Kavanagh.

The National: Paul KavanaghPaul Kavanagh

It follows the launch of the think-tank’s Our Common Home – A Green New Deal for Scotland, and founder and convener, Craig Berry, said it came about after people working on campaigns such as the Scottish National Investment Bank and an independent currency for Scotland found they had created a rapport with local branches, which was not followed up after conference motions were agreed.

READ MORE: Climate crisis: Scotland's Green New Deal offers real change

“What we wanted to do was to effectively create a good conversation between these progressive ideas and the grassroots branches and start to talk about the different ideas that we have and hopefully get them on board,” Berry told The National.

“Ideally, we want to give the grassroots a voice.

“Many SNP members are also supporters of Common Weal and we want to reach out to those people and offer them a forum to debate the transition to an economy that is decarbonised, sustainable and equitable for everyone in Scotland.

“Scotland faces a number of challenges such as climate change and growing poverty and inequality.

“Yet, the Scottish Government cannot tackle these problems with powers it currently has as the UK economic model restricts Scotland’s economic potential, suppressing our opportunity for development and our ability to deliver greater redistribution of our wealth for the common good.”

The pro-union media has made many assertions about divisions within the SNP, particularly over the independence question and a second indyref, but Berry said the CWG would not contribute to any splits.

“I don’t agree because we’re not necessarily a faction within the party. What we’re trying to do is create a positive campaign around the Green New Deal, which is something Nicola Sturgeon has already supported, and it’s something a lot of grassroots activists also support.

The National: Nicola Sturgeon

“What we want to do is to start a conversation around that and start to have a bit of positivity within the strategy of the National Conversation.

“Some of the people within the group will support the leadership, some will be a bit more critical.

READ MORE: Vital Scottish environment checks down by a quarter

“But what we’re trying to do is cast a wide net and get a lot of grassroots people involved and give them a voice.

“It’s entirely focused on the grassroots, so we’re not going to pick and choose who can join.

“We’re going to start talking about these ideas and allow people to come to us and discuss them.

“We won’t always get everything right but what we really need to do is listen to what people are saying on the ground and take these things forward.”

The declaration setting out the CWG principles recognised the “great appetite” within the SNP to debate progressive ideas.

“With another independence referendum on the horizon, now is a good time to be focusing on the best and most progressive ideas to build both the campaign and case for independence – ensuring this time we deliver a Yes vote,” it read.

It highlighted that growing poverty and inequality, a climate crisis and chaos in Westminster, meant Scotland needed independence “more than ever”.

Berry added: “The CWG is offering SNP members the opportunity to engage with a wider prospectus of progressive policies as well as the wider independence movement to engage with the SNP.

“This will offer everyone the opportunity to work together in developing a Green New Deal for an independent Scotland.”