An Idea for #RIC2013

1421178_596135617114327_1902774254_oBy Mike Small

George Kerevan was quite right to say in the Scotsman yesterday (Radical Left’s Referendum Role): “RIC is the wild card in next year’s referendum. If the anti-austerity left can convince Scotland’s young people that independence means genuine change, all political bets are off.”

But his idea for a wee green eco vilage is a woefully under-ambitious one. As the greens at a today’s conference will attest, what we really need is the rapid transition to a low carbon economy based on the principles of environmental justice and solidarity with the global south, hand in hand with the demilitarisation of Scotland – and facing up to the toxic legacy of the British State. If there’s any area we need to massively ramp-up our ambition and our urgency it’s on the environment. It’s about the ecology stupid.

However, he is quite right to say that: “The test for RIC 2013 is twofold. First: to give this nascent political coalition a reason to transform itself into a popular movement rather than a debating society. Second: to forge a programme that is effective rather than ideologically pure.”

Today’s gathering will ask questions of the enrage left, dogged by ideologism or ego and destined to be left back in the cold politics of the 1980s (I’m thinking about Gorgeous George and fellow travellers here) and on this Kerevan is also spot-on: “The opposition to Scottish independence in some left-wing quarters because it “threatens the unity of the British working class”. Translation: we prefer the abstract “unity” of Britain, where much of the English working class votes Tory or Ukip, to a practical demonstration of change in Scotland that actually improves the lot of the poor.”

What we will see if that group being left behind.

Yesterday I was criticized for arguing “Why Yes has already won” – to clarify what I mean that what I meant was just that the Union doesn’t stand up to scrutiny, not that there’s any room at all for complacency. The creation of a dissident culture with a radical left united in diversity and spreading a meme of critical thinking can infuse the indy debate with new energy.

With that in mind and to feed into the conference, I’d like to propose a day of action for radical independence in the Spring – where we try and mobilise thousands of people onto the streets to register voters, create some noise, have a presence in communities, distribute posters and information, hold workshops and meetings up and down the land.

One big day of action everywhere drawing on all groups and energies. Let’s call it Scottish Spring and use it as a platform and focus for the months ahead.

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Press Release from RIC: Radical Independence Conference to say independence must fulfil “the will of the Scottish people” for public ownership of key utilities

Conference organiser Jonathon Shafi will say “1000 people have gathered today because they all believe that independence must be about radical social and economic change.

“One key message we are sending today is that we are united in our belief that an independent Scotland must take our key utilities back into public ownership. The November YouGov poll showed that public ownership of our key utilities is overwhelmingly the will of the Scottish people. We need to tie that desire of Scots for public ownership to the cause of independence.”

“The fundamentals that we all rely on in our day to day life – energy, housing, education, health and transport – must be run by and for the Scottish people, not for profit. Whether it’s Labour or the Tories or the Lib-Dems at Westminster, they’ve all shown themselves completely under the thumb of the big multinational corporations. The independence movement needs to prove to the Scottish people that it’s different and is willing to put their interests before the interests of the super-rich.”

The conference is organised into 10 workshops to look at what a new economy and a new democracy in an independent Scotland could look like.

Ideas include a Green New Deal to create hundreds of thousands of jobs from Scotland’s renewables potential. Overhauling the finance and banking industry so that they are run as safe deposit’s for people’s money and to fund productive investment, rather than speculation. Radical decentralisation so that communities can make decisions over how they want public finances invested in their area.

Further information:

– The Scottish actor David Hayman will read out a ‘Radical Independence Declaration’ which will say that “In the gap between what is possible and what is possible at Westminster lies all human hope.”

– The conference will unveil a new poster campaign ‘The Truth about Britain…It isn’t working for you’ which shows how Britain is behind our European neighbours on almost every indicator of social, economic and political progress.

– Christina McKelvie, SNP MSP, will be speaking in the middle session on the Common Weal vision for Scotland

– There will be international speakers from independence movements in Basque and Catalonia
Contact information:
Call Jonathon Shafi on 07983537187 for further information after the conference.

On the day of the conference call James Foley on 07708295900.

Email radicalindependence@gmail.com

website: radicalindependence.org

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  1. FlimFlamMan says:

    As an Englishman (who is seriously considering moving to Scotland in hope of a Yes vote) I don’t understand the solidarity argument. Yes, England appears to be turning to UKIP, but would a No vote next year prevent that? Solidarity can be a positive value, but how to express it? I think the best thing Scotland can do for English (and Welsh, and Catalan, and Egyptian, and…) people is produce a working example of a better society. Making it clear that TINA is a lie would lay the groundwork for some potentially amazing solidarity, and not just on this little group of islands.

  2. So Scotland is more likely to be Green is it? Interesting that in both recent by-elections for Holyrood (Aberdeen Donside and Dunfermline) although UKIP have failed to save their deposits, they have attracted far more votes than the Greens.

    1. Hi scepticalbutopen – but I think you’re missing the point:

      – UKIP is part of a much bigger pull to the right in dominant English politics

      – Scottish Greens are part of a much bigger pull towards social justice, tackling environmental destruction and benefiting from renewables

      It’s not really about parties and percentages, but about the direction of travel of different societies.

      1. scepticalbutopen says:

        Thanks for your comment, Justin.

        What, in your view, is the “direction of travel” within Scotland of: the Greens; and UKIP? What evidence would you cite to back up your view?

        Is the Green Party advancing?

        In Scotland a growing proportion of people are earning less than the national minimum wage: those providing social care, working zero hours contracts and not being paid travel time or reimbursed for their travel costs. The funding of local government is severely restricted by the Scottish Government. Our present regime declines to take measures such as revaluation of property, local income tax or new council tax bands for more valuable property which would enable greater equality. Workers are paying their price. There are plenty of people in Scotland who say they favour greater equality – but not quite yet. Blaming Westminster for inequality is very convenient. Given the disinclination to use existing levers within Scotland to address the problem means it is also dishonest.

      2. braco says:

        scepticalbutopen,

        I am not being facetious here, but what do you propose in order to change the impasse in our current political system’s attitude to designing and enacting thorough going poverty destroying policies and practical solutions to our obvious societal problems?

        After decades of Westminster and years of devolution under Westminster, as you have already noted there has been little to no progress made. What are your thoughts on a practical way forward?

        Do you not consider the problem systemic, as NO political party over the decades has ever managed to make a lasting dent in the poverty and health issues we seem to endlessly talk about?

  3. florian albert says:

    According to Jonathon Shafi, housing ‘must be run by and for the Scottish people, and not for profit.’

    A comment like that is taking you into political suicide note territory.

  4. Gordon says:

    “Whether it’s Labour or the Tories or the Lib-Dems at Westminster, they’ve all shown themselves completely under the thumb of the big multinational corporations.”
    I heard George Monbiot say the self-same thing on ‘Any Questions’, on Friday night, only he went as far as to say, ‘scared of the multinationals’.
    In central government nowadays, the electorate is given little choice in the colour of government as their manifestos are all drawn up to please Big Business – hence the electorate’s apathy and low turnout at elections. We have effectively been disenfranchised in that no party is offering what the population wants.
    I wonder what was whispered in the ear of David Cameron, and by whom for him to suddenly decide to sell Royal Mail on the open market. There wasn’t a whisper of it in his manifesto at election time. A large majority of the electorate were against it. I know I didn’t receive a penny for my share of it.
    Let’s start again with a clean slate and honest politicians in nobody’s pocket who will offer policies that engage the populace and that can be seen to be to their long-term benefit. Well planned policies with no unforeseen consequences, not those worked out on the back of a fag packet based on dogma and the wish to favour a political clique.

  5. Good question, Braco

    I don’t have a straightforward answer. But (from my perspective) a good starting point would be the newly published (and free) e-book “Poverty in the UK: Can it be eradicated?” published by Prospect Magazine with the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. http://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/magazine/free-download-poverty-in-the-uk/#.UpYtNMTxp8P Let’s just say that the chapters “The myths and potential of
    social justice in Scotland” by Gerry Hassan and “What comes first, poverty or inequality” by Harry Burns (Chief Medical Officer for Scotland) make a great deal of sense to me.

    Is poverty within Scotland a matter of serious concern to people in Scotland. Is tackling it a priority? Evidence?

    What I hear (backed up by the findings of the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey) is: a high proportion of us want much reduced inequality; we consider that “government” has an obligation to address the issue; and we (a high proportion of those wanting much more equality) do not support paying higher taxes to pay for it. I suspect that the content of the White Paper reflects such “realities”. It offers (as I understand it) more “fairness” without giving any clear indication what that means. Nor does it convincingly spell out how “it” would be achieved.

  6. andyshall says:

    “where much of the English working class votes Tory or Ukip…” Given that most English voters don’t vote for either of those parties, working class potential electors are less likely to vote than middle class voters and the statement appears to be based more on anglophobia than an actual statistics or facts I would suggest a rather better response to the solidarity argument would be that all countries are responsible for their own fates.

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