Report from the Scottish Independence Convention
Kevin Williamson, Secretary of the Scottish Independence Convention, reports on a lively meeting held in the Scottish Parliament building last night.
The first post-election meeting of the Scottish Independence Convention was packed out to hear and discuss Gerry Hassan’s ideas on where Scotland is going next. Over the last few weeks Gerry has managed to articulate within the mainstream media positive challenging ideas related to Scotland and Independence that need to be addressed by the whole country. Gerry’s enthusiasm was infectious and as always he managed to provoke and stimulate – which is exactly why he was asked to speak.
It was a remarkable event for a number of reasons, not least because, while SNP members were understandably at the forefront, the SIC brought together a disparate ensemble which included members and activists from at least four Scottish political parties (including a Lib Dem peer, the quiet pro-Independence maverick that is Jamie, Earl of Mar.)
Before the meeting I went up to Luath Books at the top of the Royal Mile to get some copies of ‘Radical Scotland: Arguments for Self-Determination’ – edited by Gerry Hassan and Rosie Ilett– to sell at the event. The publishers only had three copies left. I’d also asked for some copies of ‘A Nation Again’ – edited by Paul Henderson Scott and reviewed here on Bella Caledonia – but the entire print run has sold out. These are recent titles. It would seem there is a currently a hunger for serious ideas related to where Scotland is going.
It was good to hear from so many old timers of the SNP – some who spoke had 30 and even 50 years SNP party membership under their belts – bring their experience and ideas to the Convention. You could feel a tangible sense of renewed optimism and purpose in the air. Their thoughts and tactical ideas were especially appreciated.
Another thing worth noting in passing was that senior figures from the Scottish Socialist Party sat among their counterparts from Solidarity and discussed, in positive terms, ways to build support for an Independence referendum, plus their hopes for an Independent Scotland. It would seem that the renewed sense of purpose around Scottish Independence and the forthcoming referendum has managed to bring two previously warring factions of the Scottish left under the same roof for the first time in years, united in a common cause. Its early days but these are positive signs and indicative of a bigger process at work.
The only disappointing thing was the absence of the Scottish Greens, but hopefully that was more to do with logistics and timing. The Convention needs their input in terms of both vision and practicalities.
Where the Scottish Independence Convention goes from here is still at the suggestion-planning stage. But it was generally agreed that the ways of operating pre-5th May won’t suffice. The game has changed. As the SIC’s National Chair, Elaine C Smith, said, “OMG, there’s a Yes vote to be won!” The Convention intends to turn outwards and play its part.