Exit Stage Left: the future for socialists in the SNP

4243835b-5bd1-443d-832b-d7de79d7146aForgive me if what has seemed little to you, to me is all – Jose Saramago

You don’t know me. I have no media profile or powerful connections, I’m simply an activist, one of a multitude. My activism has primarily been within the SNP, a party I joined many years ago, partly out of disgust at what the Labour Party had become and partly out of a realisation that any opportunity for transformative change required the dismantling of the British state. The SNP were imperfect, a compromise, but also a vehicle towards carving out that independent space for a different type of politics, a space which already began to emerge during the referendum.

Throughout that campaign the SNP was but a constituent part of the broader Yes movement and it was exposed to critical voices from within, but those voices have long since faded into the ether and recently along with other activists within the party I became concerned that in the absence of any real critique, the SNP vehicle has the potential to develop first and second class carriages, the former reserved for a new political elite and the latter for everyone else. That’s not my politics and not what I believe many of us campaigned for last year and it should provoke serious reflection amongst pro-independence activists, particularly on the left, about the destination of that vehicle.

I believe many activists who will have recently joined the party following the Yes campaign will be surprised at how easily its structures can become shackles and how almost everything in Scottish politics has been disrupted by the Yes campaign except for those shackles. That is not to dismiss the importance of having structures, but structures should be used to facilitate debate not constrain it, or worse still, discipline and punish it. Now, with the emergence of RISE – Scotland’s Left Alliance, many on the left within the SNP will soon reach a crossroads: do they continue to battle the structures of an old party or build from scratch the structures of a new one? Such statements may be condemned as divisive, but along with others I learned both during and after the Yes campaign that my politics are divided from those who are comfortable within NATO, equivocal over TTIP, indifferent to the effects of a council tax freeze, ambivalent on fracking, and averse to letting go of serious decision making from central government to local communities. Some may resort to dismissing such criticism as ‘SNP-bashing’. I don’t blame them; it’s far easier to deflect such criticism than it is to defend those positions either in a public debate or on the doorstep whilst insisting that you are left wing.

A few former colleagues may also accuse people like me of ‘splitting’ the Yes movement. Instead they should recall campaigning last year with fellow activists who were candidly explaining on doorsteps across Scotland that a vote for independence was not a vote for the SNP. That’s because it wasn’t. Instead it was a vote that told the British state: ‘enough’. Enough of your austerity, your inequality, your stigmatisation of the poor, enough of your illegal wars and nuclear weapons. For many of us, an independent Scotland was and remains a space for democracy and equality to become something we’re good at doing, not just something we’re good at talking about. An independent Scotland loses all of its promise of radical change if it begins to look like offering nothing more than Westminster with a human face. That is why a new left alliance is so crucial, it provides activists with an opportunity to again become agents of change by building an electoral challenge based on the glimpse of real democracy experienced during the referendum where open debate and critical thinking were prized and politics belonged to everyone rather than a chosen few.

It has become a cliché to state that the referendum has transformed the political discourse and even our relationship with different forms of media which reproduces those discourses. Now imagine how it can transform Holyrood. Imagine that the opposition to the SNP in that chamber is not a broken, disorientated and decimated Labour Party, but a vibrant, motivated, pro-independence, left alliance who can offer an outlet for many of us in the very communities abandoned by the Labour Party in Scotland.

It has become a cliché to state that the referendum has transformed the political discourse and even our relationship with different forms of media which reproduces those discourses. Now imagine how it can transform Holyrood. Imagine that the opposition to the SNP in that chamber is not a broken, disorientated and decimated Labour Party, but a vibrant, motivated, pro-independence, left alliance who can offer an outlet for many of us in the very communities abandoned by the Labour Party in Scotland.

I respect and sympathise with those who, for good reasons, reject the notion that a parliamentary challenge is evidence of real democracy. However if we inject our ideas into the everyday practices of the Scottish Parliament we deny those who don’t share our vision a monopoly in the so called corridors of power. A parliamentary platform can actually be used to emphasise that parliamentary politics is but one expression of real democracy alongside the direct action of a constellation of movements who align themselves with the common purpose of building an independent Scotland which reflects the future we imagined during the Yes campaign.

Such ideas will naturally draw critical responses and these are welcome, but too often in recent months a tiny but vocal minority have sought to silence any criticism of the SNP and its strategy, by telling many of us to ‘be patient’ and put our faith in leaders who ‘know what they’re doing’. This is a curious development considering that throughout the referendum we were actively encouraging people to think critically about power and leadership. In fact, those who were very active during the Yes campaign will readily tell you that the best strategies were not devised by ‘experts’ in Hope Street but by activists in the housing schemes and high streets across Scotland. I can think of no greater deterrent against independence than the prospect of a country where criticising politicians is frowned upon or worse, regarded as disloyal. On the contrary, the existence of a vibrant, active and critical pro-independence opposition in Holyrood can only help convince those who voted No that an independent Scotland will be a plural, open and transparent democracy where all voices are treated with respect and heard as equals.

Therefore the task of building an independent Scotland and a new electoral alliance could soon become inextricable for many on the left, who will recognise an opportunity to build something from the bottom up, a grassroots organisation for grassroots activists which is capable of being self-critical. We cannot be naïve about the challenges that building such an organisation will bring or underestimate the scale of the task at hand, but to leave it to one party to solely determine the journey towards a future independent Scotland is a strategy pregnant with failure.

It hasn’t been easy but this is the conclusion I’ve now reached and I hope others still inside the SNP do so as well. Our exit need not lead to friction, it can be accomplished without fanfare or commotion, thus depriving the opponents of independence any opportunity to make political capital of this change. Our transition can then be characterised for what it really is: a leftwards tilt of the political kaleidoscope which introduces new shapes and colours to the imagining of another Scotland.

The opportunity has arrived to open up a new front in the struggle to build that independent space for another politics and we must embrace it, because our demand for a Scotland of real democracy will not be delivered by carefully crafted rhetoric or fiscal calculation, it will be realised by the fearless speech, the weary legs and the calloused hands of the activists and it is the activists who can be the driving force of RISE – Scotland’s Left Alliance.

RISE stands for:

  • Respect: We stand for a society where we end racism, sexism, discrimination on the grounds of sexuality and where people of all backgrounds, colours and creeds are treated with respect and dignity.
  • Independence: We stand for Independence for Scotland. But our Independence is based on ending neoliberalism, austerity and the membership of NATO. We are for ending the monarchy and putting people in charge.
  • Socialism: We are for a social alternative to capitalism where people run the affairs of our society democratically and where the vast resources of society are utilised in common, rather than for the super-rich.
  • Environmentalism: We believe that environmentalism must be central to social change. Our world is being destroyed by the ruthless pursuit of profit over everything else. Sustainable ecology – where we maximise our enormous renewable energy potential to power Scotland – at the heart of a radical vision for change.

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  1. Calum says:

    Ummm. This sounds just like the Green Party.

    1. TheWealthOfNations says:

      On so many levels…

      If you’re frustrated with the direction and internal structures of the SNP change ’em!

      80% of SNP members are new members. They have the power to completely rewrite the party’s constitution and policies any way they like.

      If you are giving up, going home and taking your ball with you after less than a year I’m not sure your really telling us the whole story.

      I don’t necessarily agree with everything the Party does but I’m determined to effect change by persuading others that it is needed.

      So far I have seen a party that is aware that it needs to change and is willing to listen. I am in our branch executive, have been sent to National Council as a delegate and have been nominated to stand for Election to SOAC at conference in October.

      [SOAC is the biggest threat to internal democracy in the party’s structures. If I were an evil genius intent on subverting the SNP like the Labour party I would target SOAC to do it. If you are frustrated by the pace of change within the party I heartily recommend that you put yourself forward for nomination, you’ve got till the 28th.]

      In short, if the SNP isn’t perfect it’s not going to get any better if the people who recognise its faults quit at the first sign of resistance.

      If you haven’t persuaded others to your point of view maybe you should find more persuasive arguments.

      The fact is that the opposition in Scotland are the unionists. That isn’t going to change until Independence Day.

      If we agree that what would most benefit Scotland as a society is independence then that goal should be paramount. Attempts to split the SNP look increasingly like short term political opportunism that only benefits the unionists.

      1. Graham Patterson says:

        I couldn’t agree more with this comment. Whatever your intentions may be , splitting the indie vote amongst more party’s is playing into unionists hands!

      2. fiona halloran says:

        i agree with this comment wholeheartedly. i’m one of the newer SNP members, 1 year in october. so proud of how far we have come in that year, how politics has become such a talking point of so many people, of all walks of life. we are the grassroots of the SNP, as Nicola said we are the foot soldiers. we have the enthusiasm and passion, that some of the older members dont have, that is why we should stay as one and not split at the first sign of difficulties, of decisions we dont agree with. don’t agree, do something about it. without being told there are issues, things cannot be resolved

      3. Steve West says:

        A minor point about your comment @TheWealthOfNations:
        “If you are giving up, going home and taking your ball with you after less than a year I’m not sure your really telling us the whole story.”
        Jose Saramago says right at the start of the article that he has been a member of the SNP for many years.

    2. Graham Patterson says:

      I’d noticed that Calum- what’s the point eh ?

  2. Dougie Blackwood says:

    I’m delighted to see the possibility of a cohesive left alliance. I have only one concern about it; please believe that there are many strands to politics. Please try not to prescribe the only truth as when that happens we end up with numerous disputatious organisations that the general public ignore.

    I’m in the SNP but will watch developments between now and the election next year. At present I’m minded to vote SNP/RISE and if a credible platform is put forward that is what I’ll do. I feel no disloyalty in splitting my vote as if, as polls predict, SNP win most of the constituency vote they will get very few from the list. I want independence minded MSP’s elected as far as possible to the exclusion of the Red and Blue Tories.

    The aim is independence without frightening the middle ground. Once that is achieved all bets are off. Do we want a republic? Do we want to nationalise the important industries and services? Do we want to create a people’s bank to provide cost effective services to everyone regardless of income? Do we want to provide employment at a basic level to all who are able and support to those who are not and how would we pay for it without scaring away the movers and shakers that create the wealth?

    1. Kimberley Cadden says:

      Remember though that if you want an SNP majority the list vote isn’t wasted – the SNP won list seats where they won all constituency seats last time – and in order for the Greens or Rise to win any seats from unionist parties and not just from the SNP on the list they would need a huge swing – analysis I have seen says it would have to be around 30% on the list vote….worth thinking about….

    2. Ross Cowan says:

      Do we want to nationalise the important industries and services?

      – No. Why on earth would you want to do that?

      Do we want to create a people’s bank?

      – You mean a State Bank? God no. Or do you actually mean a ‘people’s bank’? Like a Credit Union? That already exist?

      Do we want to provide employment at a basic level to all who are able

      – You mean provide work, non-essential or even unnecessary work, so everyone at least has ‘something to do’? That’ll be expensive. (And pointless).

      “and support to those who are not able”

      You mean like the welfare system?

      “how would we pay for it without scaring away the movers and shakers that create the wealth?”

      it’s inevitable that the Socialists would be demanding that it’s always and only someone else (who has ‘more’ than them, and that ‘more’ is arbitrarily deemed excessive and / or undeserved) who will pay. Someone else will be expected to make the sacrifices and do the heavy lifting.

      Therefore capital, talent and agency will do what we’ve seen it do elsewhere in the mobile, globalised world – leave.

      Then you’ll be free to get on with creating your own ‘wealth’ -presumably by going back to dirty heavy industries providing ‘mass employment, the products of which of course markets around the globe will be queuing up to buy.

      1. Justin Kenrick says:

        Interesting that in Iceland when the banks went bust most of those people who had been drawn in by the inflated salaries then turned to far more creative work, helping to kickstart the real economy not maintain a financial sector designed to enrich a few and impoverish the rest of us.

        1. Ross Cowan says:

          After years of capital controls and painful restructuring.

          Also, population of Iceland: 329,000.

      2. Michael Cavanagh says:

        Ross, you seem to want the status quo – what exactly is the point of independence if it is to just keep existing levels of inequality private ownership and the prioritization of elite private wealth accumulation? What is commonly owned is slowly sold to the same small group – the movers and shakers. The biggest con there has ever been is that they are needed and that people doing what they can is regarded as expensive and unrealistic. A community is about each of us having a stake in it, everyone taking part and everyone being valued. We need to see the community as being the most important thing and that means that a small band of people cannot be above the rest. There must be public ownership of essentials – the heat, light, water and distribution of people and resources through a coherent transport system. The economic system must be controlled and separate from other governments as we can cooperate with others but we must retain control over the distribution of wealth within our borders. You may say that this will discourage movers and shakers. The same movers and shakers have failed time and again – the lesson is that each time it is we, the citizens of this planet, who pay the price, while those who create the loss and inform us of the need for our intervention are free to continue syphoning off wealth at their leisure. What we need is people who want to do the right thing and for the right reason. We are bombarded with the assertion that such people do not exist, yet every day I meet just such people. There are many skilled men and women out there who have effectively locked out of meaningful participation because we are born into social positions and the fluidity of such social classes has barely mingled in the last millennium.

        1. Calum Mclaren says:

          The point of independence is that Scots and those living in Scotland decide – the level of inequality or poverty, how we apportion our taxes raised, not to enter into illegal or any other wars, not to host trident on the Clyde, our relations with the rest of the world, our state broadcaster, this list is not exhaustive.

          Scottish history is fraught with division both the wars of independence, Jacobite rebellions, home rule, 1979 and 2014. Division is why we are where we are today in this awful union!

          There can only be one vehicle to take us beyond the 50% mark. Absolutely the SNP must have alliances with anti poverty and anti war groups or share platforms with the greens and socialist parties. Formal pacts in elections will dilute and divide the core message.

          I am for the left continuing to prod the SNP to keep left issues to the forefront, but let’s not sow seeds of division, especially when the objective has never been closer, this would be a gift to our right wing unionist opponents in the tory and labour parties.

  3. Brian Powell says:

    As part of the UK we will still be in NATO no matter what Scotland or Corbyn does, and TTIP is decided by the UK Government.

    1. Scott Macdonald says:

      There’s no reason not to agitate within Scotland regardless. If we work on NATO/TTIP, it is yet more evidence of how much political opinion in Scotland diverges from the British state’s.

  4. Jon Buchanan says:

    As a signatory to the Left Project statement I obviously agree with the intent and concur with virtually all of the content in the article, and very nicely put it was too! I was especially happy to see, in the press releases on the SLP site etc and here, the RISE acronym put Environmentalism front and centre, since providing a grassroots agenda on this front, which actively engages disillusioned working class communities as an intrinsic part of a sustainable economic alternative to austerity, isn’t something I’m seeing from our other environmental political options.

    Not having been able to make it along to any policy labs I’m also taking it on faith that my disappointment in there only being ‘sexuality’ made explicit in the Respect agenda will be assuaged at the launch on the 29th; as a person with disabilities who has experienced serious disability hate crime and the lack of understanding of it in law enforcement, as well as now being an advocate on behalf of others who have had similar experiences, I would hope to see a little more inclusive language from RISE for people with disabilities, who are after all facing some of the harshest facets of the austerity agenda without the rise of despicable acts like hate crimes against their persons too, rather than being simply included in the general ‘from all backgrounds’ category; yet sexuality gets a mention twice! There are clear and obvious reasons why the ‘disabled community’ may not be as vocal as that of, for instance, the LGBT community, so all the more reason to extend an inclusive helping hand to those more vulnerable as a first principle I would have thought! This, however, is my only major reservation. I will be at the launch on Saturday(health not withstanding, but I have my ticket!)and I’m more than capable of raising my voice in workshops!

    Look forward to seeing you all there and at the ballot box next year!

  5. John Page says:

    The best scenario for me re Holyrood 2016 would be a substantial SNP majority challenged by a significant number of RISE and Green MSPs……ideally in the latter case including Veronika Tudhope and Andy Wightman to bring their anti Trident and land reform expertise respectively
    We could end up with unfortunate results in terms of unionist parties if we are not careful…….I hope Wings commission detailed constituency polls per region in advance of the election so that we can discuss and consider likely outcomes before casting our second votes
    John Page

    John Page

    1. Kimberley Cadden says:

      Wings just did his analysis on this issue….

      1. John Page says:

        Thank you……I will check this out
        I hope his constituency polling is refreshed nearer next May……I note what people are writing below but I don’t want a situation where strong SNP results in constituencies mean that a second vote for the SNP let’s in Labour in the Lists especially if some of them are ex SLAB rejects from this year

        John Page

        1. John B Dick says:

          It was said that SLAB MPs regarded the Scottish parliament as the place for the ‘B’ team. When the SNP benefited from the list, they described it as “the assisted places scheme”.

          I hope that if any of these people are now elected as candidates for the list in the top five places, that they will be outed and challanged in the campaign.

          If you are aware of any ex-MP who falls into that category let it be known now. I’d sooner vote Conservative than see these people elected.

    2. bringiton says:

      Absolutely.
      The London based “British” political parties have demonstrated their intention to form a Unionist party in opposition to any Scottish ones whenever neccessary.
      If we split the Scottish vote before independence,there is always the prospect of a unionist government in Holyrood who would do everything they could to marginalise our Westminster MPs and make Scottish political parties an irrelevance in Scotland.
      Until independence,we must maintain a united front against the British state and it’s agents.
      Ca canny.

    3. John Page says:

      I had a look at the Wings “Brigadoon” example……..I would want to model this in more detail…….especially in the light of up to date constituency polling data. I don’t want a situation where double voting SNP allows in Labour low talents at the expense of Green/Left candidates like Tudhope and Wightman (and Mike Small?) whose expertise would be an enriching element in a Holyrood Parliament heading to independence.
      John Page

      1. Kimberley Cadden says:

        Wings does come to the overall conclusion that it’s practically impossible to vote tactically under our current system – and that if we try we need to realise we are taking a big risk – indeed we could increase unionist seats by doing so and even prevent an SNP majority:

        “But what we’ve learned is that even an unimaginably huge tactical list vote will likely at best produce a net gain of a couple of seats for Yes/left parties, and at worst could cost the SNP some seats and perhaps even their majority.” (Taken from Wings Over Scotland 23/08)

        1. John Page says:

          Yes, Kimberley it is clear that is how Stu reads it……..I am still concerned that in a region where the SNP take all the constituency seats, second votes for the SNP rather than RISE/Green would simply boost th unionists
          I think this needs more work when we have opinion poll information nearer May 2916……..was this not why UKIP got a Scots MEP instead of Maggie Chapman? I might be wrong….

          John Page

          1. TheWealthOfNations says:

            That us the exact opposite of what happened.

            I voted SNP/Green in the European elections because the Greens claimed a tactical vote for them was the best way of locking out UKIP.

            In the end the SNP were far far closer to taking that last seat than the Greens were. I am personally responsible for that UKIP MEP and it makes me sick to my stomach.

            I respectfully suggest that one should ignore political parties talking about tactical voting. They have ulterior motives.

            James Kelly at Scot goes Pop seems to know what he is talking about and the Rev’s recent analysis seems pretty accurate also.

  6. Jim McIntosh says:

    “Our exit need not lead to friction, it can be accomplished without fanfare or commotion, thus depriving the opponents of independence any opportunity to make political capital of this change.”

    So I’ll write an article for Bella!

    Are you watching what’s happening to the Labour Party at the moment?

    First let’s get Independence, then argue/debate the type of Scotland we want to live in.

    1. Alan McAllister says:

      Totally agree. We are getting nearer and nearer to the goal through disciplined strategy. To split now is to walk right into the hands of the Status Quo and is regrettably, historically Scottish. Scots once again trying to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory by not looking at the bigger picture.

      1. Calum Mclaren says:

        So so true”

        Some people suggest the SNP’s popularity is a weakness, I’ve yet to be convinced getting over 50% of the vote against three of the oldest political parties on Earth, is a weakness.

        I like Corbyn, he is honest and has some excellent policies and he is head and shoulders above the three stooges. But his policies won’t fly with the majority of the electorate, he is unelectable as a uk pm.

        Sturgeon is to the left of Salmond and is nudging the SNP slightly more to the left, I have trust in her she will take the party as far left as feasible without loosing support. Being progressive and radical needs to be a balance as to what the electorate will accept.

        The far left is not a position or strategy to obtain power, it is a dead end that will result years of right wing rule, the poor and vulnerable being negatively impacted most.

        labour know none of its candidates stand a chance in 2020, bizzarely they are tracking right, there is only one credible party in Scotland, lets’s keep it that way until we gain independence!

  7. james cormack says:

    The SNP is a broad church. The goals of RISE are mostly laudable, especially on the environment, but where I have a problem is on the foreign policy front.
    Why do so many on the left support, or at least condone, Islamist extremism on the grounds that anyone who anti-America and anti-Israel falls into the ‘our enemy’s enemy is our friend’ lobby?
    Carnage is going on at the moment on a daily basis all around the world (and the bloodshed is mostly caused by far right jihadist groups) yet the motley collection that make up the Left seem only to be obsessed with anti-imperialism and the Palestine/Israel question.
    It is time the Left stood up and shouted out loud that a secular world is the way forward and that the role of religion should be relegated to the home, not the street or holding up the pillars of the state.

    1. Scott Macdonald says:

      Without a secular one-world government, I’ll support the version which murders fewer people in the name of those religions. Which at the moment is cruelly one-sided slaughter.

    2. Karen says:

      Well said. Get religion into the private domain and get rid of NATO membership, the monarchy and the House of Lords.

      1. Kenneth G Coutts says:

        Second you on all these points.

    3. David says:

      James the progressive left is filled with secularists who want to see an end to Islamism, however it is important to recognise that jihadi movements haven’t appeared out of nowhere – instead they are a reaction to the West and Russia supporting tyrannical regimes when it suits and then bombing them to oblivion when they fall out of favour. A holistic approach is needed where we stop supplying dictatorships and theocracies (Saudi Arabia) with advanced weaponry in exchange for trade deals and political favours. There are of course a few apologists for Hamas but the reality is that in order to properly address the situation in the middle-east then they need to be at the negotiating table. We need only witness the influx of refugees to recognise that the current policies of dropping bombs and ‘aiding the enemy of my enemy’ doesn’t work. I know of nobody in the SSP (and by extension RISE) that in any way condones the actions of ISIS but not recognising the destabilising effect we have had on the region since the fall of the Ottoman Empire dooms us to repeat the same mistakes.

    4. Ross Cowan says:

      “It is time the Left stood up and shouted out loud that a secular world is the way forward and that the role of religion should be relegated to the home, not the street”

      Not ‘the street’? What does that mean?

      Are you saying that all displays or expressions of faith should be banned from taking place in the public realm?

      That’s a bit … extreme, isn’t it?

      I mean, I’m not religious myself, but I don’t go around thinking ‘GET YOUR BLOODY RELIGION OFF THE STREET AND BACK INTO YOUR HOUSE, DAMN YOU, FASCIST!!!”

  8. Will says:

    Jose, what you mistake for not experiencing SNP individal thought is indeed individual thought that is to say discipline, the SNP consciously think through a thought process that results in them not running about like headless chickens mouthing off and arguing with each other they remain disciplined to the cause and the road towards Scotland’s Independence.

  9. Alan says:

    Socialism: We are for a social alternative to capitalism where people run the affairs of our society democratically and where the vast resources of society are utilised in common, rather than for the super-rich.

    These are slogans. All sounds good but there is a staggering lack of detail. What do you understand capitalism, socialism, and democracy to mean in practical terms? Without lots of detail and hard analysis these sorts of declarations come over as sounding all very nice but little more than wishful thinking: utopian and naive.

    1. Jon Buchanan says:

      Come on Alan, pledging to tackle austerity during GE2015 was sloganeering by the SNP when they already had it within their power to replace the frozen and not fit for purpose council tax with a Land Value Tax, changing our tax base to a beneficent one in the process, the research already done for them thoroughly by economics emeritus Prof. Sandilands and for the Scottish Greens by Andy Wightman, so that when the Income Tax trap was sprung by Osborne they could zero rate as per the Prof.s research and we’d all still be better off, austerity lessening its grip by the day; when proposals like that are turned a blind eye to and the ‘tax haven registered’ landlords are still exempt from scrutiny under the new revamped proposals for Land Reform, citizens have the right to ask questions and offer alternatives.

      I think slogans can only be proven empty if they do not have actions to mirror the words, the semiotics of sloganeering! Anything said in politics can be reduced to ‘just slogans’, the detail of RISE’s agenda, with core values established, is to be filled in by the people it represents, it’s not traditional representative democracy!

      1. Ruth says:

        Why would snp want to stop appealing to most of the electorate? We need independence and no hard left party can bring us it. They aren’t that popular.

      2. Alan says:

        Jon,

        I don’t disagree with you on the SNP. But by attacking the SNP you duck the question. How are you going to implement all these nice things? I would say there’s a lack of imagine across the political spectrum. Everyone knows what they are against. That’s easy. It’s even easy to say what you are for but having a practical plan for implementing what you are for is another matter.

        I agree with Dereak Bateman’s recent comment on the failure of both the Right and the Left on this:

        But I deprecate the Left’s neglect of business development and understanding of economic activity which opens it to the accusation of myopia. Business, from barter onwards, has been a bedrock of society not only for the revenues in taxes its profits generate but for the welfare benefits that work and earning bring to millions. Work is – or should be – a purpose for life, a place to interact, a centre for our self-expression and achievement. (I know it’s not like that at Amazon). There is a wide field here for policy generation which embraces work as a key driver of a happy society, the creator of revenue for both individual and state and the means by which we create a more balanced society capable of eradicating poverty. It could be hypothecating certain taxes for anti-poverty programmes, championing oil industry decommissioning as a Scottish economic flag-bearer instead of braying about the oil price fall as if it were a super idea. Is there a Scottish entrepreneur culture to be rekindled among the working class kids they complain can’t get into college any more?

  10. Will says:

    The only time that the SNP may be beaten will be in a post Independent Scotland until then normal rules of politics have be suspended, the SNP can do no wrong newspapers, polls, media can criticise and highlight whatever the SNP are doing good or bad It does not matter because the people are supporting something bigger than politics which is a cause and that cause is the inevitable Scottish Independence and the SNP is the best way and means of getting there. When we get to Scotland’s Independence then any luvvies are welcome to exit stage left until then we should stay united in the SNP.

    1. Jon Buchanan says:

      ‘Luvvies’ Will?

      During the referendum we were all fellow travellers with the same destination, when was it decided we could only get there with one vehicle? Sure it was a sensible thing for us all to vote SNP in GE2015 but Holyrood should reflect something different, especially if the parties favour an independent Scotland with the Unionist vote reduced further. In the same way the SNP pledged to hold Labour to account if they had got into power, pull them further to the left, the SNP administration, which has been about competent management more than radical left wing alternatives in government, will be held to account on left leaning rhetoric by more left leaning voices in Holyrood; I think it strengthens the cause, is more likely to bring more on board who didn’t vote with us last time than just an SNP (or a weak Unionist) option!

      1. Will says:

        Jon, it took something powerful for Labour supporters and all persuasions on the left to change to supporting the SNP and that is a cause Independence, in this case the cause Independence means the heart is more powerful than the head, I am on the bus going to Independence and I am not getting off until it gets there, why not jump on the bus your welcome there’s still a few empty seats LEFT upstairs, you better better get on quick though because the bus will soon be full up.

        1. Ross Cowan says:

          “why not jump on the bus your welcome there’s still a few empty seats LEFT upstairs, you better better get on quick though because the bus will soon be full up.”

          What on earth does that mean?

          Though if I was a Yes / No floating voter I might find that alarming. There’s a quota for entry to the promised land?

          1. Will says:

            Ross, let me explain I am waiting at the bus stop the destination I am going to is Independence it is says it on the sign at the top of the bus, I don’t think your waiting for the same bus as me, hang on what did you say oh yes Clever Chops your bus stop is on the other side of the road and your going the opposite way to me, just look at the sign at the top of the bus for your destination it is The Branch Office hope you have a nice journey.

  11. Steven says:

    Can someone please explain the difference of this to The Greens? *sighs

    1. Triffid says:

      They are called RISE not the Scottish Greens. Also they don’t have Andy Wightman, Patrick Harvey or Maggie Chapman and are generally less cool 😛

      1. jimbennett says:

        Hahaha….both accurate AND funny!

  12. old battle says:

    Rise is of course to be found in that great Socialist anthem by Shelley to mark the Manchester Massacres

    RISE like lions after slumber
    In unfathomable number
    Shake your chains to earth like dew
    That in sleep have fallen on you
    Ye are many, they are few.

  13. Bill says:

    Your article reflects the views of some people in Scotland today but you seem to miss one important fact: The whole idea of everyone getting behind the SNP is to ensure solidarity.
    Splinter groups like yours are needed to be organised and set up for after Independence not right now. New parties WILL form and all your ideas are sound and I don’t take them to be divisive, but I do believe they are providing a platform that will be used by Westminster to divide the people of Scotland and once again deflect us from Independence.
    Timing is everything and it is crucial that we remain steadfast in our resolve to keep backing the SNP, at the very least until we take our Independence. We must provide NO platform that can be abused by the establishment to undermine our movement for Independence.
    Now is NOT the time to start building momentum in another direction as it only serves to confuse the elderly, the undecided, and the gullible, and these are the very people that are susceptible, this was proven at the Independence Referendum last year which was allowed to be turned into a British Election Campaign instead of a decision for the people of Scotland.
    Now is not the time to provide any back doors for any trojans to have easy entry.
    Saor ALba Gu Brath!!

    1. Will says:

      Bill, I agree you have got it bang on, when we get Independence then everybody can go doolally with their politics and political parties of all persusions can have a field day in the Independent Scotland, until then supporting the SNP is the best way and means of getting there and we have to remain united and disciplined in our approach so I encourage all to support the SNP and Scottish Independence.

      1. Triffid says:

        There is a case that a coalition in favour of Indy is stronger than just one voice? (SNP)

        1. Will says:

          It is all about the goal that is independence a strong Scottish National Party with the numbers in my view projects a position of strength and it is who I would recommend supporting for getting us Scotlands Independence. Outside of the party others are welcome to play with coalitions and I am happy to hear if they support Independence.

    2. Ross Cowan says:

      “Now is NOT the time to start building momentum in another direction as it only serves to:

      “confuse the elderly”

      Those poor confused old dears! How fortunate they are that they have someone like you to explain things to them and make up their minds for them.

      “confuse the undecided”

      If only all and any ‘confusing’ information were to be removed then ‘the undecided’ would soon be clear, and see the light!

      “confuse the gullible”

      Those thickies! All +2 million of them, presumably.

      1. Will says:

        Ross, are you still waiting for your bus to The Branch Office, if you have time to spare there is Rocket due for lift of to the Red Planet why not jump aboard instead.

  14. john young says:

    United we stand ,divided we fall,ere it ever was,ffs do not be divisive we are going to face an uphill battle as it is,without us falling apart,witness Ibrox to-day still plenty of God save the Queeners still about.

    1. jimbennett says:

      …and unfortunately, SNP policy includes “God Save the Queen” which is one of the reasons why people would choose Greens or socialists instead!”

  15. Murray Steele says:

    How on earth can voting for a party which is committed to Scottish independence be deemed to be splitting the Yes vote.
    I’ve always found the argument that everyone must vote for and rally around the SNP prior to independence to be an absurdity in general, and particularly nonsensical for socialists.
    The SNP is not a socialist party nor does it pretend to be. It isn’t even an especially left of centre party, although it has done a sterling job of pretending otherwise

    1. Ross Cowan says:

      “(The SNP) isn’t even an especially left of centre party, although it has done a sterling job of pretending otherwise”

      It has, it’s impressive in its own right.

      Why the scheme dwellers don’t / haven’t risen up about ‘austerity’, when they’re still handing out free University tuition to the middle classes, when Scotland has the lowest % of University registrations from deprived backgrounds, and the highest & of registrations from priveliged backgrounds, is beyond me.

      You’d think one or two of them might ask “do you think you might be better spending the money on things that people need where poor people aren’t actually able to pay for them, instead of spending it on things that well off people like that they are perfectly capable of paying for themselves?

      1. Will says:

        Ross, what’s up did the inspector chuck you off the bus for not having a ticket to The Branch Office.

  16. Ruth says:

    Most of these aims stated in the article are only possible after independence. I’m all for a left independence supporting party in holyrood but things like nato, the monarchy and a socialist Republic are going to depend on a center party ( snp) getting us independence. RISE & GREENS will not get us there.

    1. Triffid says:

      But there are people who need foodbanks now. Are yoy saying you will only start trying to help them after a Yes vote? What if that is 50 years away?

      1. Ruth says:

        50 years? Well it’s probably going to take that for greens or rise to be in the position to do anything permanent about it. Best we can do for the poor is donate and crack on pushing snp for independence so we can make lasting changes.

        1. Ross Cowan says:

          “Best we can do for the poor is donate and crack on pushing snp for independence so we can make lasting changes.”

          The best you can do for the poor is ‘donate’? You mean hand out money? That’s the limit of your ambition (until ‘independence’) ?

          And what specific ‘lasting changes’ are going to be commenced the day after independence? How will they be realised, and how will they be funded?

      2. Ross Cowan says:

        “But there are people who need foodbanks now. Are yoy saying you will only start trying to help them after a Yes vote? What if that is 50 years away?”

        Depends on how long the blaming literally every malaise to have befallen every individual Scottish person on “Westminster” and screaming LOOK! OVER THERE! TORY! GET THEM!” whenever there’s a whiff of scrutiny or criticism tactics hold out.

        But seriously – it does seem that Scotland, Scottish people and the Scottish Government’s hands are tied, literally tied, and NOTHING can be done until ‘independence’ is secured.

        1. Will says:

          Ross, just to let you know buses have been diverted you will have to walk to the next bus stop and your bus to The Brach Office will stop there.

        2. Ruth says:

          Realistically, what can the other parties do? Honestly tell me how people can change things from the sidelines and I’ll consider joining.
          It takes years to build a party up.
          The left are cannibalistic and keep destroying themselves so it will take so much proof that they’ve got it together before people will bother with them.
          Good intentions alone won’t change anything.
          At least one party has a decent strategy to get us out of this undemocratic mess whilst puritans shout ‘ it’s no gid enuf ‘ from the sidelines.

          1. Will says:

            Ruth, I agree with you SNP large Party reliable, efficient well organised members, activists and supporters will work tirelessly for the cause that is Scotland’s Independence it’s just a matter of time.

  17. Frank says:

    I don’t understand all this ‘wait until after independence’ stuff. One of the weaknesses of the yes campaign was that it lacked other parties who had a strong parliamentary presence. For me, the election of Green MSPs, and now RISE MSPS can only be a good thing.

    However, is it just me but does anyone else agree that the acronym RISE is awful. At least the Scottish Socialist Party did what it said on the tin.

    1. Ruth says:

      Frank because not doing so might mean losing support which will mean very little left aspirations will be realised. This is turning into a comedy show, snp aren’t this and aren’t doing that!! Aye because they know that staying populist is a winner. The left are rubbish at actually getting stuff done meanwhile tories ruin the very fabric of our society.
      I’m going to vote another left party in my list but make no mistake! We will not get independence without a centrist approach. We need snp to do this.

      1. Ryan says:

        No Ruth. The problem with the SNP and the Yes side is that the SNP are FAR TOO CENTRIST. It is a mistake on the SNP’s part to remain on the centre ground. The SNP kept the Yes campaign on the centre ground last year and it didn’t push enough people to the Yes side. Scotland will NEVER be independent unless we start arguing for radical change. That means we need an alternative to the council tax, higher taxes and taxes based on ability to pay, just to name a few examples of change we need now and could do under the existing rules.

        We need to implement the digital currency proposed by the NEF. It means we need a municipal banking and energy sector in Scotland. And it means the Scottish Government need to implement the 101 ideas Common Weal have been working on and publishing this coming week (October 7th). Enough people did not vote Yes last year because of the uncertainty and the Project Fear campaign.

        We need to have a better Scotland under the current set-up (a devolved settlement). When the 101 ideas have been implemented, the dust then needs to settle over a period of years so that people see and get used to that, like we have gotten used to everything we have now. We can’t just tell people “you will get…such and such… if you vote Yes – this will convince no one to support independence. For example, take the digital currency example. This needs to be implemented and people need to see it is something that can work in the current devolved settlement so they can see it is something that works and therefore people will not be scared to vote Yes because of fear about currency.

        The currency issue is something we could deal with now, and should be dealt with now, for reasons I just explained. Same with the municipal banking sector suggestion from Common Weal. It needs to be implemented now so that come the next referendum campaign if the banks threaten to leave us we can tell the banks to get to you know where. We can wave goodbye to the banks that threaten to leave us at Hadrian’s wall. Let’s all, come the next campaign, gather at Hadrian’s wall, and wave good bye to the banks when they threaten to leave us and shout/say: “Goodbye banks, we have our own municipal banking sector in Scotland, good riddance”.

        Hence, we will have made it difficult for the No side to say this, that and the next thing will leave if we vote to leave the UK. Do you get my message? It is all about making it difficult/impossible for the No side to make threats or tell us we can’t be independent. So a municipal banking sector implemented now would eliminate the fear/uncertainty about banks leaving us if we go for another shot at voting for separation, as just one example. A municipal banking sector up and running now would make people see/think “oh great, we have our own banking sector”, and wouldn’t make people think “you’re just saying that so I vote Yes”.

        So people need to see it working now and up and running and that it is something that can work for us. I could go on and on…Just ask if you want me to expand further. But I think what I have just written is self-explanatory. The SNP have the power to do it so they should. The SNP just think that the decisions that are taken at Westminster will push more and more people to independence. I am sorry but people will not move towards Yes because of the actions of someone else, i.e. the decisions that London makes. The SNP are just sitting back and hoping that Westminster will push people to support their case/argument for separation.

        What can we do now to eliminate fear?

    2. Jon Buchanan says:

      Totally agree with your first sentiments Frank, more diversity, more choice, brings more on board come indyref2; second point though, I disagree, I think the RISE acronym is bang on with new progressive politics like Podemos, the Pirate Party, Syriza etc and steps away from older traditional left politics, acting as if we are in the first days of a new nation and all that!

      1. muttley79 says:

        As far as I can tell from reading Frank’s posts over a fair period of time on here, he does not even support independence.

        1. Frank says:

          Hi Mutley,

          I do support independence and was very active in the campaign. I can’t think of anything I have posted on here which suggests otherwise. I would say that asking questions, engaging in critique, and scrutinising what social movements say about themselves, is not disloyalty.

          1. muttley79 says:

            Apologies if you are a independence supporter.

      2. Ross Cowan says:

        “new progressive politics like Syriza”

        That’s going well.

        (Syriza are more extreme hard left populist than ‘progressive’, but there you go)

        1. Jon Buchanan says:

          If your going to be pedantic with your semantics get them right Ross, Syriza only appear extreme hard left in a right dominated political European landscape surely? When you say it’s going well, you mean the democratically expressed wishes of a sovereign nation being overridden by unelected technocrats so that an austerity project which maintains a net export ratio for those in the Eurozone operating at a nominal surplus just to make an example of said country, and their intended political alternatives, in order to allow only one political and economic trajectory? Been in Greece much?

          I lived there for nearly four years and still many friends and family there; despite the situation and the unrest and Alex Tsipras’ resignation and the party’s withdrawal from government they are both still riding high in the opinion polls. Mr Tsipras has made the move he has to calm fears and to admit they were bullied by the technocrats; the Greek system allows them to call an election within one year of a vote, it is likely he and Syriza will be re-elected in the snap election in September with a renewed confidence in them from the electorate and a new battle plan; things have changed but it’s not going as bad for Syriza politically as it may seem, though things may still look grim for Greece, when you have to fight injustice and corruption with every hand your dealt what can you do!

  18. Ross Cowan says:

    SPLITTERS!!!!!

  19. muttley79 says:

    I am not sure about this one. The SSP and Greens already exist, and both are well to the left of the SNP. I know the SSP are going to be part of RISE. I am not convinced that the existence of three pro-independence parties/organisations is not going to come back and haunt the independence movement overall. We just saw at the general election a graphic illustration of the major problems that occurred no the No side of the independence argument, in having three unionist political parties split their vote, or body of opinion. So what do some on the independence side do immediately after this, yes they form another pro-independence electoral grouping! It is extremely difficult from my own perspective to see how anyone can justify this on logical, electoral or strategic grounds in terms of achieving independence.

    Furthermore, many on the pro-independence left and the Greens have been trying to argue that SNP supporters should give them their second vote next year, which gives a strong indication that they either do not understand the voting system at Holyrood properly, or they do understand it and are trying to take votes away from the largest independence supporting party in Scotland under false pretences. You would have thought that the same people would have learned from the antics of the SNP Outers at the general election on the failures of tactical voting. Surely questions should be asked about why some independence supporters do not appear to be interested in winning over, or gaining the votes of some of those who voted No last year.

    1. Jim Morris says:

      R for Respect is a good tag, but I would be happier if it also included Republican. The tugging forelock of the poor and working-class to their betters has no place in the new Scotland of the future. Respect must include equality of status for everyone.

  20. Kimberley Cadden says:

    Well this article is certainly somewhat condescending – I find myself wondering if this is something I am going to have to get used to – hopefully not….

    I had what for me are important thoughts and concerns – hence the long response:

    I have to say that the author’s comments regarding the SNP lacking any real debate or critique within its ranks is not my experience or observation (and nor is it the experience of others I know in the party). I obviously don’t know the experiences the author has had to give rise to this judgement as they haven’t provided any examples at all but I think it’s important to highlight that they aren’t speaking for everyone, they are just speaking for themselves. Speaking for myself I must add that the party structures for me are a large part of what has made the party so successful and I certainly see no way in which they stifle debate.

    I am also bewildered and somewhat incredulous at the assertion that the SNP is risking becoming an elitist and rigid party, not least when we take into account that they recently just changed party rules so members who hadn’t even been in the party a year could stand for election and become MP’s. We have truly representative politicians who have all been part of the yes movement and in all sorts of capacities, many of whom had never even dreamt of standing until after the referendum; anything but an elitist political class or indeed the self-interest that gives rise to it.

    I think the author is actually guilty of being divisive – but not in the way they think.

    The SNP are a centre left party (and have never said otherwise) and have policies very much rooted in social democratic ideology. NATO is a divisive issue in the party due the fact that the SNP is anti-nuclear and yet also tasked with building support for independence and encouraging citizens to feel safe in this choice. Whatever your views on NATO this is the reality – it’s a nuanced issue and with good reason. As for TTIP – the SNP have been very clear they will not vote for it in its current form, i.e. with any version of ISDS or indeed which includes public services and agriculture etc. Again this fits in with party ideology, i.e. trying to procure the economic benefit but without any negative social impact. The C-Tax freeze has been funded by the SG at (equivalent to) a £29 per year, per home, increase paid to LA’s. It has benefited many but the SNP have been clear they want a better alternative hence the creation of the local tax commission (which I hear is due to give an initial report this week). As for more power to LA’s this too is an issue needing much attention – to devolve more powers when the parliament’s powers are in flux isn’t easy – and then there is the question of how to increase participation in council elections etc. Then of course there is the moratorium on fracking which whilst many would prefer an immediate outright ban, the SNP instead chose to review the scientific evidence so that their eventual decision is considered, fair, responsible and understood to be so.

    So actually not only is it extremely easy to argue the case for these positions, but it is also very easy to see how the author has misrepresented them here to try to paint the picture that not only the SNP, but it’s members and activists as well, can’t claim to be at all left wing and certainly can’t defend the positions of their own party with any credibility. But of course the author isn’t being divisive – misrepresentation (deliberate or otherwise) and attacking the integrity and intelligence of members of another progressive pro-indy party simply for having different views is apparently solidarity in this person’s book; of course I will have to respectfully disagree.

    I am centre left like the party itself and I am extremely comfortable in a party that agonises over membership of NATO due to competing progressive values and goals; that refuses to sign up to trade agreements if they will negatively impact our society; that takes immediate action to minimise the impact of local charges whilst also researching better options (and indeed whilst basing their immediate policy on the progressive value of universalism); that takes its responsibilities in government seriously enough to take the usual important steps when it comes to considering the banning of a form of industry; and that values democracy enough to carefully consider changes which might be less representative, or needlessly costly.

    And I can also be comfortable with the fact that others who share very similar values to mine when it comes to social and economic justice may have different assessments when it comes to the best way of achieving those shared values and goals. I can enjoy the solidarity of what we share and at the same time enjoy the ground for progressive debate opened up by our differences. In such a space these differences become part of the engine of change for us all, as we explore them and as we shape the ongoing debate moving forward. I can do all this without misrepresenting those i disagree with – I can do all this without trying to diminish the integrity and intelligence of those i am debating; in other words I can do all this within a spirit and mindset that isn’t divisive at all; to the contrary I can practice my progressive politics in a progressive way.

    I have lost count of the amount of SLP/Rise articles now where the main reason given for supporting the party is based on some kind of condemnation of the SNP. I have read everything from false statements like the SNP only became anti austerity after it became popular with yes supporters, which is of course demonstrably untrue, to comparisons of the SNP with ANC based on nothing other than fanciful imaginings (which I really shouldn’t have to point out). And then of course there’s this one.

    This concerns me a great deal and it’s not about criticism of the SNP – valid criticism, especially of parties in government, is essential. Rather it’s the emerging theme among Rise activists (or at least the ones who write articles) of misrepresenting the SNP and its activists and members as a group that isn’t what it says it is, and then presenting themselves as the real party for anyone in the centre left/left, and undoubtedly where genuine activists should be (and did anyone else notice that the author completely wrote out the Green Party as a pro-indy alternative to the SNP?). In this version of reality being in the SNP is no longer valid if you are a true progressive. This is a worrying development.

    I along with everyone else I have spoken to on the subject was genuinely excited at the prospect of SLP/Rise coming on the scene, especially knowing its roots and hearing of some of the wonderful people involved. I am now at the point where I am very confused; on the one hand I have read the schedule for the launch day and am thoroughly inspired and hopeful at the ideas and people involved, but then on the other hand worry about a party who wants independence on an anti-austerity basis (and why not also pro-democracy?) and whose forefront voices such as Cat Boyd talk passionately about the recognition that indy support is largely based on such a value for a new Scotland – and yet seem intent (at least from the articles I have read) on discrediting the one party in Scotland that is able to carry huge and hopefully eventually majority support not just for anti-austerity policies but also for an austerity-free independent Scotland.

    People may want to argue that the SNP should be more left wing and great – go for it – do away. But casting aspersions amounting to the assertion that the SNP isn’t a valid vehicle for genuine activists who value debate and self reflection and have real progressive values; and isn’t a real social democratic party; and isn’t anti-austerity; and in reality is rather like ANC etc. These aspersions are not only obviously divisive in themselves, but also carry a real risk of damaging the independence movement as a whole.

    And my main despair is that it really doesn’t have to be like this at all; we can practice our politics progressively from a place where we recognise the difference is in where we end up on our path of discernment, not how we are rooted or indeed how we navigate the path. If we value each other as people who value social and economic justice, and come from the place of solidarity that naturally arises from this, our progressive politics will thrive; but if we become self-righteous, intolerant, accusatory and misrepresentative (i.e. regressive and divisive) well then frankly both we and our overall movement are fucked, because it really cannot take that.

    1. Jon Buchanan says:

      There are few political positions where a party can be both in government and in opposition, where they can be both that which pushes to effect change and that which will be pushed against to effect change; I agree with a lot of what you say Kimberley and think a lot of debate can be framed without appearing to simply be ‘SNP bad’, but there does need to be an effective means of holding the SNP administration to account without being seen as undermining the independence cause, which seems to be the gist of a few other posts here! Whilst some of the policies in administration you mention may seem like effective management strategies to you, some of them have seemed extremely counterintuitive to me. The Council Tax freeze has been in place way longer than the consultation has been ongoing for an alternative (and viable alternatives have been proposed for longer too) and local authorities have been hamstrung being unable to deliver local services or raise revenue to meet that demand, falling into the trap of the LOBOs schemes at the hands of the banks, which the SG were fully cognisant of, thus supporting and reinforcing the neoliberal policies of the financial institutions/investment bankers, and their shareholders, responsible for the financial crisis, ushering in the current age of austerity. It’s like mum and dad knowing the kids are running up wonga loans because they won’t trust them with their pocket money, when they’ve ranted to the neighbours about how much they dislike Wonga loans and eventually they’ll have to foot the bill! Alternatives to the Council Tax, and devolving more power over budgetary constraints to local councils, could have been put in place long before the situation ever arose.

      There are a few other points you make I might take issue with too but I only wanted to use one example and not go through your whole comment because I did agree with the general gist, though maybe not so much about this article. There have been a few articles as we have moved towards the formation of RISE which seemed to be just invective aimed at the SNP, I think some of it may arise from the general growing perception that the Yes movement was the SNP and only they will bring about independence. For those of us who are fellow travellers and campaigned for Yes, particularly those in RIC, widely recognised as having ‘got the grassroots vote out’ in the schemes etc and made a huge impact on lifting 30% towards 45%, where the only major party political capital is gained by one party from a cross-party unaffiliated effort, I think some small resentment grows. I would posit that this has manifested itself in some less measured critiques or debates than there might have been had there not been that shift post referendum. There has been a healthy dose of self righteousness, intolerance, accusatoriness and regressive divisiveness from many of those who believe only the one true party will deliver the goal we all strove together towards just under a year ago, indeed many of us have had our belief in that goal questioned for daring to question that notion, I sincerely hope the perpetrators realise your comments apply to them as much as they do those who oppose the SNP simply for opposition’s sake!

      1. Kimberley Cadden says:

        Thanks for your response John – and yep the SNP definitely need to be held to account as a government and I think all parties have a responsibility here. It’s the distinction between valid criticism and misrepresentation + aspersion that I was trying to distinguish in my response. The former is utterly necessary, the latter has the power to destroy our movement imo…..

        I also understand you just were using the council tax as an example and as I say I do get that different people will have different assessments on how to achieve the same goals (i.e. in this case a progressive local tax) and yes for some the tax commission took too long; but what I will say is that the freeze has been more than fully funded since it’s implementation by the SG – cuts to LA’s have not been a result of the freeze but rather overall budget cuts. And frankly if any LA had planned on increasing council tax at an average of £29 per home, per year during a time of austerity all hell would have broken loose (quite rightly imo) so it certainly would appear they are better off as a result of the freeze. I also agree with the universal approach and this is quite core to the SNP. But it has been a huge cost to the SG to pay for it and I agree it’s time to find a better way – I was hoping for a land value tax (i.e. a form of wealth tax) but all early indications seem to point away from this – although we will have a better idea later in the week once the LTC gives it’s initial report – I am sure we all await with huge interest!

        1. Jon Buchanan says:

          Completely agree on LVT Kimberley, was one of the alternatives I was alluding to but had gone into a bit of detail on Prof Sandilands research etc on a post above so didn’t want to get yawningly boring! Can’t believe the LOBOs scandal wasn’t bigger though, Councils so short of funds, largely due to shortfalls from the CT freeze, they borrow on the never never, local govt funding will still be suffering in some areas as a result for quite some time, regardless of what we replace CT with!(still, repeating myself now and can hear those yawns!:))

          1. MBC says:

            As Kimberley has explained, Jon, the Council Tax freeze is fully funded by the SNP government! But there you go on, making the aspersion that local authorities shortage of funds is ‘largely due’ to the Council Tax freeze! And therefore the SNP!

            As Kimberley has also explained, local authorities’ lack of funds is due to the Westminster government reducing the block grant element for local authorities which the SNP must pass on or else cut something else, like the NHS.

            Until we gain control of all our wealth by independence this is set to continue.

  21. Will says:

    Kimberley, well done I agree with your very thorough comment and in your shooting down those who cast aspersions regarding the SNP, unlike you they do not see the big picture Scotland’s Independence, and are out of sync with your sound disciplined reasonable judgement on this matter. I have no doubt that with people like yourself and the SNP working for Scotland’s Independence it’s only a matter time before we get there.

  22. Angry Weegie says:

    Disappointingly, it seems the Left Project is more becoming defined by what they’re against, seemingly particularly SNP, rather than pro anything. As someone who, although a member of the SNP, supported and campaigned with RIC and SSP during the referendum, it seems you have taken your eyes off the main prize in favour of pushing a line which is risking the independence majority at Holyrood, and therefore he ability to call a referendum. I recently posted the following on Facebook, but perhaps it’s relevant here to illustrate the risk.

    Let’s try to resolve the issue of voting for smaller parties using a few figures. Using the TNS poll, the last opinion poll I’ve seen, we have the following voting intentions
    Constituency
    SNP 62%, Labour 20%, Tory 12%, LibDem 3%
    List
    SNP 54%, Labour 20%, Tory 12%, Green 8%, LibDem 4%
    Effectively, that means that 8% of SNP constituency voters voted Green on the list. SSP and other left parties didn’t appear in the results for this poll.

    If we take the list figures and apply them to any 9 constituency region, assuming that SNP wins all of the constituencies, we would get the following list result
    SNP 1 MSP, Labour 4 MSPs, Tory 2 MSPs, Green 1 MSP
    If we now assume that the constituency figures are repeated on the list vote, ie. all SNP constituency voters vote SNP on the list, we would get the following list result
    SNP 3 MSPs, Labour 3 MSPs, Tory 2 MSPs

    So in other words, not voting for a smaller party (Green) increases the number of independence supporting MSPs by 1, and that’s even if you assume the Green MSP actually supports independence, which is not a given.

    I haven’t shown the calculations, but the result is correct. Anyone who wants to check can do so. You simply divide the votes cast by the number of seats already won + 1, so that would mean initially dividing the SNP vote by 10 (9+1).

    1. John Page says:

      Dear AW
      Thanks for these figures……..if you did your calculations on a spreadsheet or if you did them on paper would it be possible to post a link
      For me the optimum result in May would be a strong SNP majority but I would prefer Labour no talents to be replaced by people like Andy Wightman and Veronika Tudhope……..I would like to see what happens if there is a big shift in the 2nd vote from SNP to Green…….I don’t think you have tested that scenario
      There is little between us…..my desire to see the max SNP majority is tempered by a stronger desire to see Labour get its just desserts and to see Holyrood enriched by particularly knowledgeable individuals on such key areas as land reform and nuclear disarmament
      Best wishes

      John Page

      1. Angry Weegie says:

        John. I’ll try to post the workings, though not from my phone, where I am now. As you say, I haven’t tested the scenario of a big shift to Green, but there are many possible scenarios and therefore many possible outcomes and the point I was trying to get across was the risk to the Holyrood majority and the ability to call another referendum. I chose the figures in my example because they were from an opinion poll, which is as close as we can get to a result at the moment and I thought that an example with real(ish) numbers might help to clarify what is obviously an area of much confusion.

        1. Angry Weegie says:

          One last point on the opinion poll figures that I meant to make.

          Interestingly, there is no difference between the Labour and Tory figures in the constituency vote and the list vote. Does that mean that no Labour or Tory voters switched to Green, so all the Green votes came from the SNP? Could we also take from the figures that other left wing, pro-independence parties appearing on the list don’t attract extra voters, but just break up the pro-independence vote into smaller and less useful chunks.

          Something to ponder over, perhaps.

          1. John Page says:

            Thanks for taking the trouble to reply, AW
            As Bella says below the Wings numbers are not completely convincing at this stage.
            I fully take all the points about securing a strong position for another referendum…….I just want to avoid a situation where if SNP sweep all constituency seats we get some SLAB ejit rather than a strong Green candidate because SNP List votes are wasted
            Need to keep thinking about this
            Best wishes
            John Page

  23. leavergirl says:

    Sheesh. All this putting all your eggs in the party politics basket. Boring.

    1. Angry Weegie says:

      It’s not putting all your eggs in the party political basket, it’s putting all your eggs in the independence basket.

      1. 1314 says:

        Even with the new membership levels the vast majority are not members of a political party. Many view political parties with a degree of suspicion, and not without reason.

        So for many, a ‘second order’ political organisation like Common Weal is more acceptable. This may be why the Common Weal meetings I’ve attended are the only ones, both during and after the campaign, where there have been more women than men.

        1. leavergirl says:

          That’s good to hear, 1314. That’s what we need more of. Parties can’t accomplish independence, only people can.

          Follow the American lead. They declared independence without seeking the king’s permission. Then they went about the cultural battle to convince each other, while setting up the needed infrastructure. When the war finally came, they had a winning chance. If you follow the pattern, when the next referendum comes, you’ll be winning… because you already will be independent in innumerable ways.

          Where the Americans blew it was… they declared (and got) political independence. They never gained financial independence during those years, and when they tried later, it did not stick. Learn, and do both in one fell sweep.

  24. JamesMac says:

    Hope RISE well. I know a lot of folk in the party but standing on a platform of attacking the SNP is stupid.

  25. Susan Macdiarmid says:

    ‘Carefully crafted rhetoric’; right enough, but RISE FALLS in my view.
    F*** ! Another Left Left Split.
    I give an absolute yes to the principles expressed but I really think this is not the time to muddy the water.
    Lets not have another glorious failure because of ‘Scotland’s problem’ – everyone thinks they know best and wants the rest of us to go with them.
    After 300 years surely it is not too hard to wait a few years more for our own self rule and then we can get down to brass tacks and squabble in peace!

    1. David McCann says:

      As a left leaning SNP member for over 40 years, I don’t intend abandoning the attainment of independence in the remaining years I have left, to be replaced by a collection of hopefuls who put their political leanings before that goal.
      Remember this. AMS was the preferred voting system set up by Unionists to prevent the SNP from ever becoming the majority party in the Scottish government, and giving second preferences to anyone other than the SNP, is just as likely to put unionists back in to power, as the Greens or Rise.
      Those who don’t believe this have not studied how AMS works.
      I suggest they have a look at http://wingsoverscotland.com/ams-for-lazy-people/

      1. Hi David, I dont find the WoS argument very convincing to be honest. I will continue to have many friends and comrades in the SNP and the Greens and this site is committed to providing a platform for all progressive and radical pro-indy voices.

        1. David McCann says:

          The problem I have Mike, is that it has taken the SNP 91 years to get to the point where they could actually- against all the odds, give pro indy supporters, the chance to vote for independence.
          Maybe you young ones dont mind waiting the same amount of time for RISE to catch up, but I dont have that luxury, so Ill be voting SNP for my MSP and SNP for my choice of government to give me another realistic chance of another referendum.

          1. MBC says:

            Rise seems more intent on criticising the SNP than tackling the 55% who voted No and for the Unionist parties, that’s my beef with them so far. I’m all for pluralism but not for in-fighting. If I heard them attack the Conservatives, Labour and Lib Dems as much as they do the SNP I would feel happier about giving them my vote.

            But so far, not a cheep against the Unionists. Therefore my reluctant conclusion is that they are not a progressive force, it’s just old fashioned left wing in-fighting that will get us nowhere and the Unionists must be clapping their hands in glee.

            There’s far worse than the SNP you know. Elephant, corner, etc..

  26. David Sangster says:

    Good discussion. James Cormack refers to the SNP as “a broad church”, something that was often said about the Labour Party. However, a good church of whatever kind does not ignore part of its congregation, as, notoriously, Labour did and still does. RISE seems to be the response to those in the SNP who likewise feel their voice is not being attended to. I think of the SNP rather as one of those chocolate oranges which, when you took off the wrapper and administered a sharp tap, fell into segments. The fault lines in the SNP are several – socialist/conservative, pro/anti NATO, republican/monarchist being the outstanding ones – but the wrapper holding it all together is our collective determination to win independence. Hold Fast, people!

  27. bringiton says:

    Some people here are talking as if the SNP were Scotland’s government.
    They aren’t
    Scotland’s goverment,i.e.the one who decide macro economic policy and consequently social policies are the Tories in London.
    Unless something dramatic happens,this will be the case for most of the next Holyrood parliament.
    The only way to attempt to mitigate the effects of this situation is to have a large effective opposition.
    The Tories would like nothing better than a fragmented opposition arguing amongst themselves about how to oppose London’s policies.

  28. Craig P says:

    I have been coming round to the view for a while now that Scotland is quite a small ‘c’ conservative country. We talk a good radical game, but when push comes to shove rarely follow up as a majority. The referendum was just the latest manifestation of that.

    For me, the SNP has become an unadventurous, middle-of-the-road party. Basically, Labour without the gaffes and British nationalism. But, if my reading of Scotland’s people is correct, then that suits them/us down to the ground.

    Which is a bit depressing if true.

  29. Frank says:

    Interesting thread. I think it is important to remember that RISE is an alliance of left groupings, many of whom started to support independence when it became popular to do so. I can remember a time when many of the leaders of Rise were once opposed, or at the very least cautious about independence. As an aside, I actually have a degree of respect for those socialists who didn’t jump on the bandwagon and argued a principled ‘unity of working peoples’ position, even though I disagreed with them.

    The point I am making is that whilst independence for the SNP is fundamental, something which is non-negotiable, for many in Rise it is tactical, possibly temporal. The left has a history of abandoning causes once they become unfashionable or problematic and patience is not something ‘radicals’ are renowned for; the more you tell them to be ‘patient’ the more they will rebel. But youth is a ticking clock…

    In the meantime, there are significant differences between RISE and the SNP; for example some RISE members if elected would refuse to implement Tory cuts, a position I respect. How feasible this position is in practice is debateable but nonetheless it presents a significant difference.

    In the absence of a second referendum, which looks increasingly likely, the yes alliance will experience fragmentation. Social divisions require an electoral expression. If Rise and the Greens do well next year my hope is that they start to put the SNP under pressure to use the parliaments existing powers for progressive change. The challenge of course is to criticise the SNP without descending into sectarianism.

    We must also distinguish between the Scottish Government and SNP members. The SNP is contradictory beast – a good thing. But I would argue that the practice of government, and this is whether Scotland is independent or not, inevitably involves collaboration with managerial neoliberalism. How to untangle ourselves from that collaboration in a world of globalisation and fragmentary power, is one of the great challenges of our time.

    1. Alan says:

      And there’s not much discussion here of strategies for effectively resisting neoliberalism.

  30. Kath Harden says:

    What worries me is the demands for more democracy. Weird concept perhaps but my experience (and many others) of power-passing to local Councils leads to puppets acting like kings who set their own rules and over-rule simply because they didn’t think about the issue – because they see no need to consider the issue. They ignore local voices and even when they are elected Councillors, they fail to over-ride the power base of “know-it-all’s” who are the paid employees. Many of these paid employees have successfully carved out positions of ultimate power and are as self-opinionated, arrogant and stubborn as any Unionists sitting at Westminster. They produce Local County Plans (2years to 10 years) heavy with equality and democratic aspirations which they post on the web for the “ordinary” people within their region(s) – but try to reference even one of such commitments in a quest to improve important local/regional matters and you will receive a high-handed response – if you get a response at all.

    So how do you improve on what we already have in Scotland when all we would be doing is going from one set of establishment bullies to another set of lower ranked bullies, the latter cliché don’t give a monkey’s curse if they are delivering what they are being paid to deliver, they just want to be paid for squeezing the rules whichever direction they wish and stay in post for as long as they can in order to receive a substantial pension paid by the tax-paying public for their years of steady abuse.

    1. Alan says:

      That’s the problem: avoiding just switching from one set of bullies to another. Democracy, depending on how it is defined, doesn’t necessarily avoid this. This was a key problem that Hume and Smith struggled with: how do you avoid factionalism? (See also Madison in the Federalist papers.) How do you avoid one faction dominating (or buying) government for it’s own purposes and against the broader public interest? This can (will) happen just as easily under a left party as a right.

      1. John S Warren says:

        Madison (Hamilton and Jay) in the Federalist Papers turned to Hume for his “judicious reflections” against “factionalism”, which Hume detested, and which he thought defined the sour nature of politics in Britain. For Madison Hume’s wisdom contained “a lesson of moderation”.

        See, ‘The Federalist Papers’ (1788): Conclusion (number LXXXV), final paragraphs. The closing peroration of Madison’s work makes reference to “a writer equally solid and ingenious”, and uses a quotation from his work, which stresses prevailing human error in the development of a state; dependence on trial and error; the time required to bring the project to fruition; and a single expression of the glue that must hold it together: “the judgments of many must unite in the work”.

        The “solid and ingenious” writer was David Hume (1711-76), who had supported American Independence up to his death, poignantly in 1776; and the quotation was drawn from Hume’s essay, ‘The Rise of Arts and Sciences’, drawn from his ‘Essays: Moral, Political and Literary (1741).

        1. Alan says:

          Good points. Interesting paper here on Smith’s influence Madison and others, including influence on important Federalist Papers 10 & 51:
          Sam Fleischacker “Adam Smith’s Reception among the American Founders, 1776-1790.” The William and Mary Quarterly, 2002.

    2. MBC says:

      I agree Kath. As a long-standing community councillor (we are unpaid volunteers) I follow the local council in Edinburgh closely. The officials run everything, run rings around local councillors. Local government is technically very complex. Elected councillors (paid £16k pa) are part-time novices; they depend on the ‘expertise’ of the paid officials, all of them on full time salaries far higher than the humble elected representative. Many decisions are delegated to officials. People are very naive. Real democracy is very hard work. It means scrutinising dense reports and going over detail. Most people just can’t be bothered. They just want somebody to wave a magic wand.

  31. Frank Lynch says:

    Probably stating the same sentiments as many above: but this headlong rush to splinter the Independence movement at a time when the SNP is bedding down their MPs at Westminster and hoping for a decisive defeat of Tory-lite Labour at Holyrood is an egregious mistake. Want the SNP to be a facilitator for socialism? ( and I agree with many of your aims) – then it’s not that difficult to be elected to the party’s decision making bodies, especially considering the influx of new members, many left leaning, like yourself.

    1. Two things Frank. A) The SNP isnt the independence movement. The SNP’s a party within the movement. B) People are allowed to start parties in a democracy. It’s okay.

      1. Frank Lynch says:

        I agree: the SNP’s not the Independence movement; but it has been the chunkiest part for decades. Nor do I disagree that anyone can set up another party at anytime. But the structures exist within the party to allow for a change of direction in the SNP, without creating a schism in the run up to the next Holyrood election; something that will be exploited for all its worth by the unionist establishment and media for all its worth.

        1. Running for office or creating an alliance isn’t ‘creating a schism’ its a function of being part of a democracy.

  32. Kerry says:

    Why not join one of the already existing socialist parties who support independence?

    RISE is still organised by the same old suspects in a new guise with some new faces, which is the same situation as the already existing independence seeking socialist parties. Of course, they already have policies and manifestos.

  33. Peter A Bell says:

    Anyone who imagines that critical voices within the SNP have faded simply isn’t paying attention. Maybe this anonymous self-proclaimed SNP activist should actually attend a meeting or two.

  34. MBC says:

    A party which makes it a fundamental tenet of pulling out of NATO is doomed to the sidelines. A more sensible policy position would be to leave the issue of NATO membership to a popular vote post-independence.

    Independence is far more likely to succeed and receive international recognition and backing if an independent Scotland were to remain a NATO ally. Anybody who thinks that international support and recognition is unimportant in the independence struggle is living in cloud cuckoo land. It shows they are less interested in independence and more interested in following a purist left wing agenda.

    I have never under the left wing obsession with NATO. You do not need to have or support the use of nuclear weapons to be a member. Norway, Turkey and Canada are members and not nuclear countries and are unlikely to ever support the use of them, even ‘defensively’. Neither do you have to agree to all NATO actions. It is a defensive alliance and one of the most successful in history. Plus, though no-one has ever yet done so, members are perfectly free to leave NATO at any time if they wish and a future independent Scotland would be the same.

  35. Ray Bell says:

    Not sure Jose Saramago the most appropriate to quote here. He is a Portuguese man who wants union with Spain!

  36. Mike says:

    The SNP like all institutions everywhere in the world are rightly open to criticism. They are not perfect nor do they appeal to everybody not even everybody who supports the idea of Independence for Scotland but here is the thing.
    Irrespective of how you feel about the SNP personally or about their political leanings and manner of Government they are Scotlands ONLY chance of ever seeing National Independence this side of the 21st century. So if you support the ideal of Independence then for the love of God give support to the SNP irrespective of how they may irritate or don’t comply with you on other issues.
    These other issues can better be dealt with on the other side of the Independence constitution.
    FFS first things first. Lets get to a place where our views pro or anti SNP or any Scottish Government matters because right now within this non union our views don’t matter or hold any sway to the people who do matter to us in Westminster. They love to divide and rule. They live for it. Don’t go out of your way to do their job for them.
    If we don’t have Independence from Westminster then it doesn’t matter how we feel about Trident austerity NATO local taxation the environment etc because nobody in power in Westminster gives a shit.

  37. Eilif Gustafson says:

    “Such ideas will naturally draw critical responses and these are welcome, but too often in recent months a tiny but vocal minority have sought to silence any criticism of the SNP and its strategy, by telling many of us to ‘be patient’ and put our faith in leaders who ‘know what they’re doing’.”

    I’ll admit a certain guilt in saying something along these lines. But I’m not suggesting we just blindly follow the leader. I am in the SNP because I agree with much (though not all) of their policies. Being prepared to wait and not rush into a second referendum is only a matter of tactical thinking because give another half-decade public opinion will likely change substantially in favour of independence. Hold the referendum too soon and we simply don’t stand a chance, that is all I’m saying when I say “be patient”. I have a lot of faith in Nicola Sturgeon to think carefully before making decisions even if they’re not always the right call and also I know she will listen to us and take what we say on-board. The whole advantage with an increased SNP membership is that a load more varied voices will push the party in the direction the people of Scotland want it to go in not just a few at the top of the party. But ultimately as party leader it falls to Sturgeon to write the SNP manifesto which is where an independence referendum is going to be pledged.

    I have written a longer response to this, you can read my post here: http://plus428.blogspot.co.uk/2015/09/when-should-we-have-another-referendum.html

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