Unity in Diversity

CNuzZEQWwAAtIuHOn Saturday the Marriott Hotel in Glasgow played host to the launch of RISE, a new electoral alliance aiming to deliver socialist representation in the Scottish Parliament from 2016. The event brought around 500 people from across the left-wing spectrum together in one room and was described by Colin Fox as the start of “the most significant left unity project in a generation.” But not all have been convinced, with a range of individuals taking to social media to decry the formation of “Scotland’s Left Alliance”.

The most common critique so far has been that RISE (and surely, by extension, the Greens) are a threat to independence, that their very existence on the ballot paper in May could “split the pro-Yes vote” and reduce the chances of one day achieving an independent Scotland. Even leaving the disputed – and entirely theoretical – mathematics of this aside, the underlying premise of this position is that independence should, in a very direct way, be tied to the fortunes of the largest pro-independence party: the SNP. On a basic level this argument – that the movement is surely stronger if it is united behind a single organisation – is understandably seductive but it does not hold up under proper scrutiny.

Not only is there absolutely no guarantee that unwavering support for the SNP – with which would come an increased majority in Holyrood next year and a subsequent dominance of the 2017 council elections – will bring us any closer to independence; the reality is that the opposite may in fact be true. It is important that people understand that the SNP does not, indeed cannot, represent the full spectrum of pro-independence views in Scotland – in truth, no single party ever could, nor should it attempt to. One of the great strengths of the Yes campaign was the sense that it was open to anyone, and that those of all political persuasions could find a home within a broad, diverse campaign. If our movement is reduced to supporting a single dominant party then that vital plurality will be lost and the momentum built up over the past few years will begin to dissipate.

A culture of electoral compliance amongst the pro-independence left – where the ‘right way to vote’ is to back the SNP on both ballots and failure to adhere to this received wisdom makes you a problem – will damage the campaign for independence in the long run.

There has been a lot of talk about RISE (and the Greens) asking SNP supporters to vote tactically for a smaller party on the list, but this highlights an ongoing, pervasive and critically important misunderstanding of Scotland’s electoral landscape. For a good deal of those on the left it is the votes for the SNP (both in the General Election in May and on the constituency ballot next year) which are ‘tactical’ – what RISE offers is an opportunity for those people to vote for what they truly believe in as well. An organisation like RISE is a potential home to those whose ‘First Past the Post’ votes for the SNP this year and next are a question of realpolitik, not philosophical or ideological conviction.

The defining feature of the AMS system used in Holyrood is that it allows the electorate to back two different parties and, for those supporting independence but identifying as being on the left of the SNP (at least 15% of the electorate according to recent research), this remains the best way to exercise their voting rights: a tactical vote for the SNP in the constituencies and a principled vote for RISE or the Greens on the regional list.

The SNP are not the enemy (RISE will only stand on the List ballot and most if not all potential supporters will be supporting the SNP with their constituency vote) but nor are they the messianic saviours of Scotland. Nicola Sturgeon herself has been at pains to point out that the fate of our nation rests in the hands of the people of Scotland, not the Scottish National Party, and the same is true of independence itself. As Jonathon Shafi told CommonSpace on Saturday: “Independence is more likely if there are a diversity of parties calling for independence.”

The SNP are not the enemy (RISE will only stand on the List ballot and most if not all potential supporters will be supporting the SNP with their constituency vote) but nor are they the messianic saviours of Scotland.

Of course some critics have argued that, whilst RISE would be a good idea in an independent Scotland, we should wait for that crucial change to happen before attempting to build a proper left-wing opposition to the SNP. This argument still assumes that the SNP will deliver independence for the people of Scotland single-handed (a proposition which, as already shown, is far from certain) but it also poses a far more serious problem: what if independence is, for the sake of argument, another twenty or thirty years away?

Are we to spend a generation towing the nationalist party line for fear of ‘creating division’ even when many believe that a number of their policies are wrong? Are we supposed to pretend that we can’t see the short-comings in an organisation which has delivered a number of positive changes but which could and should have done much more to address the fundamental inequalities which still blight our society? Are we really willing to sacrifice those suffering in the here and how (or, even worse, convince ourselves that continuation of the union is the sole reason for said suffering) rather than attempt to improve their lives with the tools and resources already available to us?

Independence is not coming tomorrow and, until it does, a credible opposition to the SNP is necessary as a basic matter of democracy.

Independence is not coming tomorrow and, until it does, a credible opposition to the SNP is necessary as a basic matter of democracy.

The fundamental question is this: will it help the people of Scotland for a single party to be given a free run and face no genuine scrutiny of their record or proposals from a credible, pro-independence, left-wing alternative? Of course not, but nor would it help the SNP – under those circumstances there is a very real risk that an effectively omnipotent Scottish National Party will be sucked into the same maelstrom which has all but destroyed the Labour party in Scotland.

Finally, there has been criticism of the funding structure for RISE, with some tweeting hysterically about a ‘socialist party charging £120 a year for membership’. The reality is, unsurprisingly, different. Yes, the highest membership fee is £10 per month, but there are also £5 and £2 options for those on lower incomes or who are unemployed. Put simply, this means that those who are able to afford £10 a month are asked to do so in order that those who cannot are able to join for significantly less. Not only is this entirely reasonable, it also happens to be pretty much exactly what I argued for recently on CommonSpace.

Socialism, at its core, is about those with the broadest shoulders bearing the heaviest load and, on that basis, the approach adopted by RISE is absolutely in keeping with the philosophy at the heart of such an organisation.

In a practical sense it is also worth noting that RISE does not have the luxury of millionaire backers that the established parties enjoy – there are, quite rightly, no Ian Taylors or Brian Soutars throwing money at this particular alliance. An organisation funded using the RISE model is by definition and necessity accountable to its members alone, not the interests of those with thick wallets and vested interests.

Of course RISE is not the finished article, but it isn’t claiming to be. Decisions on policy, leadership and parliamentary candidates will be made by the members through a grass-roots, democratic process and, in truth, that’s exactly why some are so excited by it. Some people will, quite reasonably and understandably, prefer to wait until a concrete range of policies are on offer; others will want to be involved in shaping those policies and will also willing to contribute some of their time and money to the organisation whilst that process takes place.

Nobody connected with RISE is claiming that the road ahead will be easy and there are no guarantees of success but, just as with independence for Scotland, the initial leap of faith might provide the opportunity to make things better.

As Cat Boyd said on Saturday, another Scotland is still possible – RISE can help to build it.

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  1. Caroline Magoha says:

    It’s farcical to imply that post independence Scottish Tories, Labour and LibDems will vanish with the wave of a wand. This isn’t Harry Potter land.

    Off course they will still exist and partecipate.

    The very fact you claim the contrary dimonstrates your ill faith or dire stupidity.

    All more reason to doubt the scope of this RISE.

    1. Don bradley says:

      Im 67.
      All my life I have watched left/progressives tear themselves to pieces arguing how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, to my despair.
      I consider the SNP to be in thrall to the catastrophic neolib consensus. But this no time to divide our forces and fragment into squabbling factions, as has happened so often in my weary lifetime.
      A united, monolithic, unstoppable, indivisible front until the hill is taken is essential.
      Then, but only then, can you start you pointless cat-fight. At least then we’ll be in possession of the hill.

      1. Kevin Adamson says:

        I don’t see how you can claim that the SNP are in thrall to a neoliberal consensus. I keep hearing this, often from people who should know better, but it’s nonsense. Nobody is saying they are gleaming eyed revolutionaries, but that doesn’t make them neoliberals. Neoliberals attack the welfare state mercilessly whenever they get the chance.

  2. Aiden says:

    Very good article, which echoes a lot of my own sentiments. Exciting times ahead!

  3. Barbara Reid says:

    The problem I have with RISE is will it be another party having a go at the SNP just for the sake of it? I’ve had enough with FMQ’s or interviews just being a hate SNP fest rather than constructive alternative proposals. On the voting side, if the votes are going to weaken SNP and strengthen Labour or Tory ie split the left vote rather than be an alternative for previous Labour voters then that’s not something that I want to see happen.

    1. Triffid says:

      But unless the SNP are perfect in every way then how can criticism be “for the sake of it”? Surely there are some things that the SNP could do better that can be pointed out by the pro-Indy left?

  4. manandboy says:

    There’s nothing new here. This is just another example of ‘the Left’ saying ‘we find it very hard to accept the discipline necessary to crew the good ship Independence, so we’re going to get our own boat.’ The Empire was built on ‘ divide and conquer’, but the Left never got it.

    1. Triffid says:

      This is “the left” saying that the entire point of independence was radical change but the SNP seem to be thoroughly mainstream and cautious. So we want to radical change now. There isn’t space for Yes parties left of the SNP though, so I think that RISE wont make a dent on the Green vote or the SNP vote.

      1. Muscleguy says:

        There is plenty of room, the room is in persuading people of the Left who do not vote because they see no parties that represent their interests to vote for to come out and vote for us. There is plenty of room to increase the turnout and help registrations in the runup to next May, as RIC did in the referendum. The referendum and the GE here in Scotland and Corbyn’s success down south show what can be achieved when you appeal to those who would not otherwise vote.

        Chasing ever smaller numbers of committed voters by triangulation is not the way to proceed. A recent comparison of political views in Scotland vs England showed broad consensus, except Scotland has a big far Left tail. Canvassing with RIC in the referendum we found plenty of Socialists in the schemes, sick of infighting and hoping for something better. These are people RISE will appeal to. They are not SNP people and we have every right to ask for their votes without stepping on anybody’s toes, except perhaps a certain bright orange swinger.

  5. Whit? says:

    “towing the nationalist party line” That would be ‘with yer toes’ not pulling it on a rope…

  6. deewal says:

    “the broadest shoulders bearing the heaviest load”
    Where have I heard that phrase before ? Oh yes I remember now. It was UKOK.

    And “if independence is, for the sake of argument, another twenty or thirty years away?”

    There will not be a Scotland in 2045 if it is not Independent very soon.

    1. Triffid says:

      What?! The broadest shoulder argument is basic equality. Just because the UKOK people stole the phrase doesn’t make it bad.

  7. Raphie de Santos says:

    I think the issue for SNP constituency voters is they could vote for RISE/Solidarity on the list but find they come well short of the threshold for a list party therefore letting in more unionist parties. Unfortunately, the far left is still tarnished by the whole Sheridan saga. The old SSP base feels happier in a left of centre SNP and/or giving a list vote to the Greens who have a very well thought out set if radical policies that have been developed over a number of years. RiSE/Solidarity/RIC are light on well developed policies and credibility in the eyes of most independence supporters. This will take time, committmental and some big struggles to overcome.

  8. JBS says:

    “…the underlying premise of this position is that independence should, in a very direct way, be tied to the fortunes of the largest pro-independence party: the SNP.”

    Well, James, I’m not a member of the SNP, but I have to ask the question: if the SNP had not won the Holyrood election in 2011 with such a thumping majority, would there even have been a Referendum in 2014?

    1. Triffid says:

      If two Yes parties had won the same majority then the same thing would have happened. If the SNP had 35MSPs and the Greens 30 then there would also have been a referendum. So I don’t see what your point is.

      1. JBS says:

        The Yes campaign only came into being after the majority SNP government announced that there would be a referendum on Scottish independence. If the Holyrood election of 2011 had resulted in the allocation of seats that you suggest, I wonder if there would really have been such an impetus towards holding a referendum on Scotland’s future in 2014. But we’ll never know, will we?

      2. JBS says:

        Patrick Harvie on December 5th, 2013:

        “Indeed even the very firm supporters of independence within the Greens tend to be more strongly motivated by other aspects of our political agenda, and recognise that we have a huge challenge ahead of us if we want to see Green ideas put into practice, quite regardless of the constitutional future of Scotland.”

        http://www.patrickharviemsp.com/2013/12/the-scottish-green-partys-worst-kept-secret/

      3. Doug Daniel says:

        Labour would have had 37 seats, making them the largest party. I recall the Greens flirting with Labour in 2011, especially when they looked like winning the election in the early days. They would be no means have been guaranteed as coalition partners for the SNP (and with such an even split, it WOULD have had to be a coalition).

        Sorry, but that kind tunnel-vision thinking is exactly what is worrying a lot of us in the SNP, with folk taking it for granted that the SNP will win in May, and thinking they can concentrate on deciding who to elect as the opposition. Let’s hope no one ends up with egg on their face.

        1. I’d be interested to hear how you think this pans out Doug? So everybody votes SNP and … then what? There’s a lot of fear-mogering going on but I’ve never heard anyone actually articulate what the actual route-map is (including the SNP).

          1. JBS says:

            Doug Daniel:

            “…folk taking it for granted that the SNP will win in May, and thinking they can concentrate on deciding who to elect as the opposition.”

            Here’s the danger, because the real opposition – unionism – hasn’t gone away. The MSM is still overwhelmingly unionist. There is a Tory UK government in Westminster. People talk glibly about Labour having been destroyed in Scotland; but a lot of people voted for them in the May 2015 election. I wonder how we can consider splitting the 2016 Holyrood vote if there is any chance that the unionists might profit from that.

            Bella:

            “…I’ve never heard anyone actually articulate what the actual route-map is (including the SNP).”

            The SNP should, of course, be held to account: it’s a political party, not a convocation of saints. And there has been too much vague talk from the SNP about holding another referendum when the time is right – whatever that means. So yes, there are people in Scotland who are impatient for independence. I just wonder how it profits the independence movement if the only result of that impatience is that the gains that have been made so far are undermined.

          2. Kevin Williamson says:

            Agree with this. If the SNP want to assume the head of the independence movement then fine, they are best placed to do this. But it will mean outlining a road map to independence that has a bit more flesh on it than ‘we’ll call a referendum when the people support it.” A road map needs to have that as the basis of its timing but also include a debate on currency, Europe, climate change obligations and a post oil economy. If the SNP arent willing to schedule a debate on these issues they arent leading this movement anywhere and we wont be able to lay down the foundations for a future YES victory.

  9. Will says:

    The name of the alliance RISE is a silly if you ask me its open to all type jibes for example RISE and fall dance, RISE and fall of the Roman Empire, RISE to the occasion, RISE and raise your glasses to the demise of another mish mash of left parties, RISE Wikipedia an alliance of left leaning parties lasted about 3 Weeks the alliance ended after parties members were arrested for arguing with a Lamp Posts. Keep it simple stick with the big party SNP and win Scotland’s Indepedence and then after Indepedence all left alliances and parties are welome to go loopy.

    1. old battle says:

      On the name RISE it has several poetic /political connections

      Bob Marley chants from his
      Ghetto pain
      Rise up fallen fighters
      Rise and take your stance again

      Our Corries urge us to Rise early
      Rise! Rise! Lowland and Highlander,
      Dochter and beardless son, each come, and early:

      Speaking across history to me and you
      The power & dignity of Mayou Angelou
      ‘You may write me down in history

      With your bitter, twisted lies,

      You may tread me in the very dirt

      But still, like dust, I’ll rise.
      Out of the huts of history’s shame
 I rise
      
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain I rise

      I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
      
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
      Leaving behind nights of terror and fear

      I rise
      
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear

      I rise

      Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,

      I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
      
I rise
 I rise 
I rise

      and in the anthem of revolution
      Shelley gave us Rise – the solution

      ‘Rise, like lions after slumber
      In unvanquishable number!
      Shake your chains to earth like dew
      Which in sleep had fallen on you:
      Ye are many—they are few!

      Forget those who try to hurt us
      with their words of lies
      raise your eyes look forward
      the future is the prize

      So tired of the politricks
      Of lazy compromise
      We welcome today
      The new vision
      The revolution
      The birth of RISE

      1. Will says:

        old battle, very impressive thanks for the read I enjoyed it.

  10. Triffid says:

    The issue with RISE isn’t that it will split any votes but that it doesn’t have any political space. The Greens are filling the space that RISE wants and the Greens seem much better at it than Colin Fox…

    1. Chris Darroch says:

      Three parties on the left now vying for the same votes almost.
      Notice that Solidarity is not mentioned in the article.

      The D’hondt system favours larger parties.

      This means that effectively you will all be potentially reducing each others relative chances.

      That, in turn, means that the unionist parties on the List could receive relatively larger share of representatives.

      1. Triffid says:

        The but the Greens are at the tipping point. If they get 10% of the vote they get 12-15% of the seats 13-16MSPs. Even a drop of a few points down to an 8% Green vote could give many Green seats to the Tories.

  11. Chris Darroch says:

    God.

    What a confused pile of nonsense that article is.

  12. John says:

    ” On a basic level this argument – that the movement is surely stronger if it is united behind a single organisation – is understandably seductive but it does not hold up under proper scrutiny.”

    Sorry but I don’t see any scrutiny in this article.

    “As Jonathon Shafi told CommonSpace on Saturday: “Independence is more likely if there are a diversity of parties calling for independence.””

    You really need to explain why this is the case. Is JS saying here that groups who are to the left of SNP are not going to vote for independence in the next referendum?

    I think it would be better if you wrote articles that were more positive instead of falling into the same unionist trap of attacking SNP. Maybe then people would listen to what you say and maybe join you.

  13. Will says:

    All these Micky Mouse parties are a distraction on the road to Independence, it goes like this I have a big ego tell you what I am going to create a party become a leader that will last for about 5 minutes and will be yesterday’s fish and chip paper. I was thinking of starting a party myself but I am not a very clever chops I can’t think of a good name for it, if anybody has any ideas for a name I would be glad to hear, just to give you something to work with I am to the left of that fat chops fella in North Korea Kim Young One and slightly to the right of Jeremy Bourbon, although you will have to try hard as I currently support the SNP.

  14. Keith Epps says:

    In order to actually win Independence the elderly and wealthier sections of the electorate need to be persuaded to change their minds from ‘NO’ to ‘YES’. RISE simply won’t do that. It will not only fail to contribute anything to the strategic aim of Independence, but will allow pro-UK voices the perception of splits in a fairly solid and disciplined pro-independence movement. I can’t see that being a good thing.

  15. arthur thomson says:

    I echo the comments from Barbara and Manandboy above.

    I think we all need to look more closely at the apparent rationale behind the promotion of RISE as described in the post, which I think is misguided. The support of the SNP is not ideologically based, it is based on the pragmatic perspective that Scotland will inevitably and always be a backwater while it is part of the UK. The only significant gain of independence will be the most significant gain possible ie a government which is dedicated to prioritising the interests of Scotland in all matters. That isn’t an ideology it is just a simple fact.

    The question of how long it will take to realise this is unanswerable. Until that day comes there is certainly a need to try to defend against the excesses of a borderline fascist government at Westminster. And that is exactly what the SNP is trying to do – every day, against appalling odds and with admirable success.

    So I ask myself, what exactly is the problem that RISE is organising to solve? At this point I start to wonder about the motivation behind RISE.

    1. Flower of Scotland says:

      I wish you had a like button! I like a lot of these comments. I think they are sensible.
      But not rise!

    2. Kevin Adamson says:

      I am of roughly the same opinion.

  16. Steve Coulson says:

    We are living in extraordinary times. I could never have imagined a circumstance in my lifetime when the Labour Party became so discredited and their vote and base collapsed as dramatically as they have done. Nor imagined getting 45% to vote for Independence or for the SNP to take all but 3 Westminster seats. The idea that such an upsurge in political engagement can be contained within the confines of one political party is extraordinary and to be honest downright dangerous (in the sense of sowing illusions in what the SNP can achieve). I think there are huge challenges for RISE not least the legacy of the SSP split – and the fact that the Green party will (reasonably in my opinion) say they were in this political space first. Nevertheless there is clearly need for a socialist movement in Scotland to exist, to be as unified as possible and to understand that the challenges faced by many working class people can not all be solved in polite parliamentary ways or by waiting for Independence which hopefully will be soon rather than later…

    1. Ricky Green says:

      A very sensible contribution to a debate that I am find frustrating due to some of the politically simple and mis-informed contributions, mostly from what seems to be a strand of SNP fundamentalism. The “all together in one party ’till independence” brigade should consider where the votes have come from to boost their political advance since the last Holyrood elections. For the referendum yes vote and for the last Holyrood and Westminster elections it has be the working class that has shifted its support to the independence/Yes camp. I believe for those being hit by Tory austerity policies (and the neo-liberalism and war-wondering of both Labour and Coalition governments before the current one) Unionism is not the main enemy. Westminster rule by governments which Scotland did not vote for, imposing anti-working class policies on Scotland is their concern. independence is a was/is seen as out of this situation, hence the SNP getting their vote. The SNP are luck Labour is in such a state without effective leadership and without an organised left. Otherwise a Corbyn-lead anti austerity Labour Party might be more appealing.

  17. kenneth MacKinnon says:

    Scotland today is a submerged Nation, an English vassal state….we are not allowed to control our taxes, our media, we are effectively governed by England.

    The SNP almost got us there,any attempt to slit support will resisted….at least we now have a Scottish Political Party representing Scotland.

    1. Kenneth McMath says:

      Exactly!

  18. Mike Fenwick says:

    A short warning from a Simpsons epispode -tae see oor’sels as ithers see us

    Groundskeeper Willie: It won’t last. Brothers and sisters are natural enemies! Like Englishmen and Scots! Or Welshmen and Scots! Or Japanese and Scots! Or Scots and other Scots! Damn Scots! They ruined Scotland!

    Independence – see it always and irredeembly as common ground and common cause -fail in that one endeavour, weaken the unity it requires, and in what have you succeeded?

  19. Mr. Verloc says:

    Anyone who doesn’t understand why the latest incarnation of the SSP/RIC cannot pose a tactical threat to the SNP, by splitting the Left vote under the AMS system for List MSPs needs to go back to school. Or, at the very least, read about the AMS system on Wikipedia.

    It really is as simple as that.

    The SNP would be extremely well-advised to reign in and, if possible, re-educate many of their online activists, because they are making a satire of the notion of an enlightened, pluralistic Scottish political culture and damaging the case for independence.

    1. Kevin Adamson says:

      You think so? And you you think that the leader of the SSP lecturing left wing SNP members as to their proper place is not a little open to satire? Lecturing that takes place before the organisation is even launched. An organisation that makes the audacious claim to represent the interests of the working class – on what basis does it make that claim? If a party or movement is going to make a serious pitch for representation then it has to do a good deal better.

    2. Will says:

      Mr. Verloc, what’s up with satire SNP can do funny too we are not all serious and miserable we are more likely to win Independence if we are happy and not walking about with a sourpuss. SNP do happy the best. ps I was edumacated at Oxbridge hence I am a well edumacated pseudo intellectual once headhunted for a position as head honcho at the Red Tory branch office! I had to decline the offer as I am not a careerist.

  20. Kenneth McMath says:

    Vote for what you believe, why accept second best?

    BUT, if you broadly agree with the SNP aims, why risk letting the right back in? Scotland is where it is due to split and division, why prolong this and or put independence at risk?

    labour, the state broadcaster and the press have all had a go at Corbyn, now it’s the uk government’s turn. The division in labour is there for all to see, the English electorate, labour hierarchy and labour mps are headed one way and the new grass members another way. Now the tories will pick and pick at that division, but the damage is done. This is an open goal for the SNP!

    An example of how labour has been utterly undermined is that we have heard not one word from a labour spokesperson in Scotland or England on Osborne’s Faslane announcement – what an absolute disgrace, where are the three stooges? Today both Scottish and English media were treating the SNP as the official opposition on this matter.

    Post independence I would vote for a strong but sensible left, but not until we secure independence.

    Regards the tories and labour post independence, it is unlikely they would argue for reunification. Ironically, current tories would have to become Scottish patriots, otherwise they would appear bitter losers who appeared as an enemy within. Also post independence, the right would be forced to formulate policy that was of benefit to Scotland.

    Interesting times, but my point is that a left of centre redistributionist party will never be elected in the uk, in an independent Scotland it would, so lets secure the goal first!

    1. John B Dick says:

      My neighbour voted for independence “in the hope that after independence, there would be a Conservative Party that I could vote for.”

      That says a huge amount in very few words not only about the Conservatives, but about the other UK led parties, and the Butskellites of the 1950’s. Also, of all the hope and fears for post independence, it is one of the more likely to be realised.

      Most voters do not vote for any party, more vote against (usually Conservative) than for. That is why many NO voters vote SNP.

      Now the LibDems and Labour have shown that they are no use to the anti-Con so anti-Cons use the SNP.

      The SNP have never complained at bing used in this way.

  21. Big Jock says:

    The SNP is a movement. To define it along party lines, which is suggested. Is entirely misreading what is happening in Scotland.

    We can’t tell people not to form other pro indi parties. We can’t tell people not to vote for them.

    However we must explain clearly. That throwing away a list seat by splitting the indi vote. Is not helping the indi movement, it only helps the loser become the Victor.

    United Scotland must be on this movement. The opposition will try anything to divide us. Including setting up bogus parties of the left.

    There is room for another party of the left. Just wait until we get our country back first.

    1. Will says:

      Big Jock, I am thinking of starting up a new party that will be a bit to the left of the left of the left of the left, as you can see an extreme left party can I pinch the United Scotland you mention as the name for my new party, I am going to split it and insert Left in the middle the new party is to be called United Left Scotland party although I am not sure if anyone will join it. If anybody’s interested let me know there always room for another left party in Scotland.

    2. N_T_C_W says:

      “The SNP is a movement. To define it along party lines, which is suggested. Is entirely misreading what is happening in Scotland.”

      Not according to the SNP it isn’t: http://www.snp.org/about-us

      1. JBS says:

        Ooh, that’s a hard one.

        Non Teaching Casual Work? New Type Computer Workshop? NanoTecCenter Weiz? North Texas Christian Writers? Neo Tokyo Championship Wrestling?

        It’s probably staring me in the face and I’m too thick to see it. Come on, folks, help me out here.

        Not A Cow?

  22. 1314 says:

    This makes three articles now, I think, which are more about the SNP than RISE.

    Why not get out there, tell people what RISE stands for and ask them to vote for you. You are beginning to sound like Labour who define themselves with reference to whatever the SNP suggests.

    I don’t see the need for RISE. Why don’t those on the left join the SSP who are already formed, have a greatly increased membership and a decent leader in Colin Fox.

    No doubt you know what you’re doing – but, please, just get on with it. I will probably vote SNP/SNP in May, but I’m open minded on the list vote. If you are standing in my area and I know what you stand for I may be persuaded to give my list vote to RISE (or the greens on the same basis). But if you just talk about the SNP what would be the point of voting for you.

    1. Will says:

      If Colin Fox embelishes his surname to Foxhunter he could attract a few thousand Tories to join his party. SNP best for me.

  23. Fiona Morag Grahame says:

    Also rather worrying I have heard many SNP candidates for 2016 declaring that a vote for the SNP is not a vote for independence so their claim that a vote for other parties would split the indy Yes campaign does not hold. I would encourage people to read Jim Sillars ‘In Place of Failure’ https://fionamoraggrahame.wordpress.com/2015/08/29/book-review-in-place-of-failure/

  24. Alan Smith says:

    The argument that RISE will be splitting the independence vote is false. Between the referendum and the 2015 Westminster elections a broad consensus was ‘Maximise Scotland’s Votes: vote SNP 2015 and SNP, Scottish Greens, Scottish Socialist Party 2016’. The only part of this which has changed (in an electoral sense) is that a broader left movement under the name of RISE will replace the Scottish Socialists on the list ballot paper. RISE is a natural progression from the Radical Independence Campaign (RIC) and the Scottish Left Project. It was RIC that galvanised many working class communities to register and vote Yes and brought the anti austerity debate to the heart of the campaign. Imagine a Scottish Parliament with a healthy mix of MSP’s from different movements, who can debate and disagree with each other but who all share the ideals of an independent Scotland, no nuclear weapons on the Clyde and a country which genuinely looks after and values it’s citizens. Imagine a Scottish Parliament with SNP, RISE and Green MSP’s putting forward positive visions for Scotland instead of the dire Westminster establishment parties. I will be voting SNP/ RISE.

  25. David Sangster says:

    It is unfortunate that Colin Fox should have hailed RISE as “the most significant left unity project in a generation”. There is in fact a party called Left Unity whose birth pangs I followed with interest during 2013. It was launched in a hotel in London in November of that year, since when its achievements have been underwhelming. I would say it appears to be stuck on a mud-flat not very far from the slipway.

    If you crunch the numbers for the List vote in 2011, the three left parties – Socialist Labour, Scottish Socialists and Solidarity – polled just under 35K votes, a couple of thousand more than the Pensioners’ Party, but 22K short of the Greens, who took two seats. At a Regional level, only in Glagow where the “coalition” polled just under 11K votes would they have had a ghost of a chance of a seat.

    In short, unless there is an extraordinary surge of support for the left, RISE will make little or no impact on Scottish politics in the short term; and, frankly, there isn’t time to hang around waiting for it to do so. Independence is too urgent for that, and the SNP is the only vehicle capable of bringing it about.

  26. lynn king says:

    Hi, perhaps someone can enlighten me as to why there continues to be such fragmentation of the left? There still remains the Scottish wing of TUSC (Trade Union and Socialist Coalition ) who are not included in RISE and will be standing candidates in forthcoming elections. At this rate there are going to be 3 or 4 leftwing parties to chose from, a recipe for failure if ever I saw one.

    1. Will says:

      Lynn, thanks for the inspiration that you gave me for the name of the next new left alliance, I took your word fragmentation and thought different pieces of the name of the next new left alliance is JIGSAW

  27. My Cocaine says:

    If Scotland needs anything, it’s a new, independence supporting, centre-right party to challenge the Unionists. A party that extols self-sufficiency, individual liberty, low taxes, less state, more local autonomy, and business friendly. In other words, everything Conservatism stands for.

    Scotland had a strong conservative trend years ago, so maybe this argument could fall on fertile ground.

    The left dividing itself into ever diminishing blocs, will not help the cause of independence.

    1. Ryan says:

      RISE are arguing for an anti-capitalist/anti-neoliberal (whichever you prefer) independent Scotland whereas the SNP are not. So how is it bad to want a voice in Holyrood arguing for socialism? Scotland will never separate from the rest of the UK unless we embrace socialism and grassroots democracy and argue for much more serious radical change. And I think we could do that by “stealing” the proposals made by Common Weal.

  28. Lawrence says:

    It might be unpopular to say it but Scotland historically is not a left wing country. Indy/GE15 campaigns with their anti-austerity agenda has fired the far-left into believing that there is a large group of voters out there looking for a socialist utopia, when in truth the Labour party had moved to far right for many Scots. There is the reason why the Greens, SSP and Solidarity haven’t poled that highly in the past and RISE will I feel fair no better, Scots are pragmatists, as political pundits have pointed out the electorate are astute enough to vote for different parties in different elections, the thought that some might be voting for the SNP because they occupy the centre/slightly left-of-centre ground Labour vacated and that might be where most Scots are comfortable seems to be unthinkable to them. The real threat would be if the Conservative Party in Scotland could rebrand themselves as Conservatism with a small ‘c’ (giving themselves a new name at the same time, the Tory name is to toxic) therefore attracting the new Labour and LibDem voters. Political discourse yes, a threat to the SNP no.

  29. Iain More says:

    I am yet to be convinced that voting for any Left candidates will not be wasted and let a vile Brit Nat in the back door on the list seat. I am in H&I for the purposes of the list vote.

    The actions of Caroline Lucas at Westmidden have shot her Party in the head as far as my voting for the Greens is concerned at the Holyrood Election. I view the Greens as having gone backwards since the Referendum.

    So here I sit wanting to be convinced that voting for a Left Candidate on the list vote wont be wasted. At present it is looking as an SNP Constituency vote for me but that is a no brainer. It is looking like SNP on the list vote as well and I am not in love with the SNPs caution about when to have a second Indy vote or indeed the tactics they are presently employing. Oh and they have been far too timid on land reform for my liking.

    My vote on the list vote is there for the taking as are many others that I know of but if it looks like a wasted vote then it isn’t going to happen.

  30. Peter A Bell says:

    Why? That’s the big question. Why RISE? What purpose does it serve? What might a vote for RISE achieve?

    Let us be perfectly clear about this, the constitutional issue is absolutely critical. Everything else in Scottish politics is subsidiary to the question of who governs Scotland. Nothing is more important than affirming the sovereignty of the people of Scotland and bringing our government home in order that this popular sovereignty may be exercised in such a way as to bring about the change tp which we aspire. Nothing of any great significance will be achieved without independence. And we have a very clear path to the restoration of Scotland’s rightful constitutional status. We have, in the SNP, the political agency by which the power of the people can be politically effective.

    What does RISE add to this? Why would we need another political agent when we already have one?

    The comparison with the diversity of the Yes campaign is spurious. For all its diversity, the entire Yes campaign was agreed, however reluctantly in some cases, that the SNP would take the lead role in dealing with the process of becoming independent. For all the anti-independence mob’s determination to portray the whole independence issue as a mass of confusion and unanswered questions, not even they were able to cast doubt on who would be managing things in the event of a Yes vote. On that, there was absolute clarity. Others might be involved in the negotiations but it was not seriously disputed that the SNP held the mandate from the people of Scotland.

    What does the independence movement gain from the SNP being challenged for this lead role? What advantage is there in giving unionists the opportunity to create doubt where previously there was none? And if RISE isn’t challenging for this lead role, what is it doing?

    I’m fully in agreement with the contention that we need an effective opposition at Holyrood. A strong opposition is vital to the democratic process. But, as already noted, the principal divide in Scottish politics is not between different points on the left/right spectrum, but between the two sides in the constitutional debate. There is no third side to this debate. You are either pro-independence or pro-Westminster rule. There is nothing in between. RISE claims to be pro-independence. So how can they oppose the pro-independence SNP?

    It would certainly be good to have scrutiny and debate in the Scottish Parliament that rises above the mindless “SNP BAD!” offered by the British parties. But surely not at the cost of weakening the independence cause.

    There is a deal of confusion between becoming independent and being independent. For obvious reasons, becoming independent takes priority. When it comes to being independent, there is undoubtedly a role for RISE. But RISE adds nothing to the process of becoming independent – and may well detract from it.

  31. John Moss says:

    R.I.S.is irrelevant.

    What I want are people who will sacrifice their soveriegnty to serve me. To make our lives easier, better and cheaper in return for real rewards our hard-earned money will pay for. Not people who see me us as Scots, a soft-touch, as some kind of fool to service debt for public servants, give jobs to non-Scots and be told what to think by elected and un-elected public servants.

    I want to pay people to serve me. To earn my hard-earned cash to protect my sovereignty, to fulfill my wishes. I’m sure that you do too. I’m sure that you don’t want to hear any more crap about socialism, left-wing, rignt-wing politics or any other nonsense.

    Let’s starte telling all the politicians, if you don’t want to give us what we want then you can go to hell. 🙂

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