“Men are apt to mistake the strength of their feeling for the strength of their argument. The heated mind resents the chill touch and relentless scrutiny of logic.” - Gladstone

  • Civic culture; a Civil debate

  • Shared History, common future


We live in a world of growing uncertainty. For many it appears that the politics of populism and nationalism are leading us towards further division.  The consensus has fractured and all over the Western world, the political order is under severe stress. In the United Kingdom we face both Brexit and a renewed challenged to the integrity of the UK itself – a social, economic and political union of far greater consequence to the peoples of these islands than the European Union.

Our aim is to go beyond the immediate political debate to provide a long term stable solution for the welfare of all the people of these islands building on a shared history towards a common future in which are all invested and from which all can draw.

We seek to establish a space for analysing how best the relationship between the peoples of these islands can be set on a new and stable footing. Our ambition is to maximise the benefits of the Union between Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland for all: to review and renew our constitutional settlement, to scrutinise without fear or favour the economic realities of the UK single market; and to look in detail at questions of identity, both local and national.

Nationalism, populism and division are not inevitable.

There can be a better future.

Leading Themes

1. The moral case
We aim to provide a philosophical and moral underpinning for a continued constitutional relationship between the peoples of these islands while acknowledging the deficiencies in the current settlement, both political and economic. What can history and philosophy tell us about the positive case for the Union?  One of the first progressive unions in which local nationalisms – which feed on the dislike of the ‘other’ -  were displaced in favour of the broader common good, with shared values and a liberal idealism that has proven globally inspirational. How can this idealism be renewed and reinvigorated so as to confidently face the challenges that confront us? In short, why should we care about our union?


2. Issues of Identity
Closely tied to the moral case is the core question of reconciling diversity while recognising localism and identity. We will interrogate the narratives of division that have emerged to feed the new nationalisms and argue that history and shared experience provides us with a more collaborative and common message from which to draw and develop for the future. We recognise that the romance of nationalism can be as persuasive as it is deceptive. The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland offers one of the few examples of a successful pooling of diversity for the common good of all; a celebration of diversity that does not depend on the denigration of the other but provides the essential competitive dynamic for growth, in all its facets. It provides a coherent and binding frame of reference for a multi-cultural identity that local nationalisms cannot deliver. It is the embodiment of the idea, since put to good use by the United States, that from the many - one.


3. The economic case
We will provide rigorous analyses of the economic case of the UK single market, the benefits of a single currency and a single regulatory framework, not only for economic development but for environmental protection throughout these islands. What are the strengths and weaknesses of our single market and how can it be improved for the welfare of all of our citizens? How does the size of the market and our economy help us face the challenges of the future and how may a coherent economic framework facilitate the substantive devolution of economic power, thereby providing for a fair and balanced distribution of our common wealth?