RISE: an election post-mortem

RISE-ScotlandRISE had a brutal election. There’s no disguising that. Fewer than 1000 votes in the Highlands and Islands. Barely 600 in the North East. Losing to Tommy Sheridan in Glasgow. There aren’t many silver linings in that gloomy vista.

I was with the RISE team at the Emirates Arena on Friday morning as the Glasgow votes were being tallied. It was not a pleasant experience. We weren’t expecting to storm the Winter Palace, exactly, but to lose so resoundingly, after such a lively campaign, was painful.

So, why did RISE fall short? Here’s my assessment, as both a journalist and the organisation’s former press officer.

Referendum fault-lines. The SNP soaked-up the vast majority of pro-independence votes and the Greens occupied what little space there was to the left of the SNP. This meant that RISE was competing for a specific constituency against two much bigger and more efficient party machines. The odds, in retrospect, were always heavily stacked against us. Moreover, RISE was a direct product of the referendum. Radical Independence cuts its teeth boosting turnout in working class areas. But turnout in 2014 was 85 per cent. Last week, it was 55 per cent. That massive 30 per cent drop-off probably shrank our potential base.

Crowded field. In 2003, when the SSP won six MSPs, there was one unified socialist party in Scotland. In 2016, the field was suffocatingly crowded. The SNP, a leftwing Labour party, the Greens, RISE and Solidarity were all jostling for the same territory. In addition, for all the talk of RISE as a ‘Scottish Syriza’, Scotland had already had its Syriza moment – in 2015, when the SNP stormed Westminster. The SNP has a near monopoly on anti-Tory, anti-austerity sentiment just now. That’s not going to change any time soon.

Ground campaign. RISE’s wasn’t as extensive as it needed to be. Our success in securing consistent and widespread media coverage made us look more formidable than we were. In Glasgow, which should have been our stronghold, the activist team was exceptionally dedicated and hard-working but relatively small. We simply didn’t have enough people on the ground to get someone elected.

Resources. RISE had a grand total of two (modestly) paid employees. I was one, Jonathon Shafi, the national organiser, was the other. We lacked paid researchers, local organisers and campaign managers – the basic infrastructure, in other words, of a successful election drive.

Messaging. If you want to win the list votes of people who intend to vote SNP on the constituency ballot, don’t spend your time attacking the SNP. For some reason, SNP voters don’t like that. We were right to target certain Scottish government policies, national standardised testing, for instance. But bluntly accusing the SNP of being rightwing wasn’t smart. The Greens struck a more constructive tone and were rewarded for it.

Substance. The left needs to shake its addiction to empty gesture politics. Moral outrage only gets you so far. Our most pressing task was to build a strong, credible public profile. We should have focused our efforts on pushing a handful of properly researched arguments and ideas. We didn’t, and that cost us.

RISE now has to work-out what kind of future it has. The election delivered a sobering jolt, but also – perhaps – a galvanising one. At 6am on Friday morning, Cat Boyd led a rendition of ‘Bella Ciao’ from the back of the RISE van outside the Emirates. ‘This was our first election,’ she said, ‘The first of many. For others it was their last.’ Since then, RISE activists have remained remarkably disciplined and upbeat. Let’s hope it stays that way.

The SSP holds its national conference in June and party members will vote then on whether to remain affiliated to RISE. They should. There are lots of excellent people in the SSP, but it’s not clear how the party would have fared on its own. I doubt it would have performed any better had it stood independently. (In fact, RISE polled nearly 3000 votes more than the SSP did in 2011.)

Despite the results and the mistakes, RISE ran a strong campaign based around a talented, spirited – but fatally under-resourced – group of people. We made an impression on Scottish politics massively disproportionate to our size. That, at the very least, is a decent start.

I’m now heading back into the far less gruelling and stressful world of freelance journalism.

All the best, comrades. Keep your heads up. There are better days ahead. Hasta la victoria siempre.

Comments (93)

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  1. Frann Leach says:

    I’m sure RISE has a future – after independence. The thing is, we have to focus on achieving that, because we’re not photons, which means we can only hit one target at a time.

    1. Angus MacCuish says:

      “I’m sure RISE has a future – after independence.”

      Absolutely, RISE should challenge the SNP as a partner and a conscious, but as every woman, man and their dog knows, not to stand against the SNP and divide the independence vote.

  2. Alistair Livingston says:

    Well said Jamie.

  3. The Penman says:

    Admirable honesty and self-reflection. Good article.

  4. David says:

    Fair points.

    You all ran a campaign you can be very proud of.

    There was a lot to lose, and I think it was right that many people backed the SNP – this was a risky election, as we’ve seen from the rise of the Tory party in Scotland. Thankfully we didn’t return a UKIP MSP but it could have gone that way.

    I was shocked at the low turnout rate, and I believe you are right in how much of a part that played in RISE’s poor showing.

    That said, RISE kept the issues front and centre and mobilised a good many people. It was a defeat but one needs to keep the perspective that after the shenanigans of the Referendum, people were a bit risk-averse, and at the same time, Independence remains the key issue of debate – whereas the social issues RISE has been focused on are seen by many as secondary (which is a shame, but that’s how it is).

  5. William says:

    Honest summary and hard to disagree with any of them but parties and organisations can punch way above their weight with effective campaigning. As an event consultant of almost 10 years I offered, on several occasions, to support and to help resource their live events and to develop a live comms strategy. But no response. Despite the fantastical collateral and some inspiring candidates their public meetings, events and the manifesto launch showed too clearly the lack of support for the party. An opportunity missed but not an end.

  6. RabMacPhoto says:

    Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but so too is *foresight* – how many folks pointed out that attacking the SNP & splitting the Indy vote were likely to prove counterproductive?

    1. David I says:

      “splitting the Indy vote were likely to prove counterproductive?”

      It was in spades,RISE should have been organised long before it kicked off.
      The attacks on the SNP , that saw my vote going to SNP as opposed to SSP and in 2011 the Greens
      It ain’t much , but how many more like me?

      Onward’s post really says it

      In the alternative,A read at SunTzu, might be of benefit

      1. Rab says:

        I did consider voting RISE on the list but decided not to in the end after being called both a “cunticle” and a “moron”. I just stuck with SNP.

        I’ll continue voting SNP now until we achieve independence. After that, I’m anyone’s again (torys not included).

  7. Edward Andrews says:

    There are very few of these factors which couldn’t have been foreseen before the Election. As an observer, even before the election, I was of the opinion that you were going to suffer the kicking which you got. I have only two comments. 1. Your time will come after independence, especially with an STV voting system which will have to replace what we have in the Unionist inspired devolved parliament, you will win seats. 2. You simply were not professional enough, or busy enough. I saw Jean Urquhart a couple of times, and while she would have made a good contribution to the Parliament she could only have done so at the expense of another good candidate.

  8. Philip Stott says:

    Scottish TUSC results were larger than both Rise and Solidarity in the seats TUSC contested…and TUSC was very critical of the role of the SNP in making cuts.


    1. Clive Scott says:

      SNP is not “making cuts” – it is managing the budget cuts handed down from Westminster and making the best of the Mickey Mouse powers from the Scotland Act and Smith Commission. Endlessly repeating lies about SNP gets the reward it deserves at the ballot box – ie next to nothing.

      1. Mark Crawford says:

        Of course, the SNP could stop cuts to council budgets by replacing the Council Tax with something fairer, couldn’t they?

        1. Riddok says:

          Replacing it with something fairer is the same as taxing people more to pay for cuts in services their taxes have already been taken to pay for.

          Tax rises are not an election strategy

          1. Mark Crawford says:

            I’ve got no problem making the rich pay twice for a union that they voted for. This is why the SNP offer no realistic route to independence – to do so, they would have to propose it as part of a class war. In the meantime, enjoy the politics of postmodernism!

  9. Onwards says:

    It seems like it would be best for independence supporters within RISE or Solidarity to pack it in and join the Greens or the SNP who actually have a chance of achieving something.
    RISE’s only effective purpose was as a spoiling movement.

    All we saw from a huge amount of publicity, often gleefully given from unionist journos, was a few thousand wasted votes and a huge amount of damage caused by spreading complacency about a guaranteed SNP majority. Together with demoralisation of working class pro-indy voters by attacking the party that was best placed to achieve a second referendum.

    Think what could have been achieved if all that effort had gone into attacking the real enemy – A Tory party that wants to walk all over the poor and disenfranchised.

    1. Valerie says:

      Well said. Due to inexperience, trying to poach list votes off SNP voters, has only caused resentment, and that won’t dissipate anytime soon.

      The vast majority of SNP members joined in 2014, for independence, as their priority, and help the party for that reason, they will never game their votes, and they work for a majority SNP gov’t not a rainbow parliament.

      I simply don’t understand RISE banging on about working class, but somehow unwilling to work to embed in local communities, and get on to local councils. There is a big advantage to this approach, not least getting to know how gov’t machinery works, and how you can propose policy from there.

      Politics of any hue is a business, formulate your business plan for the next 10 years. Review and revise as you go, and things change.

      1. c rober says:


        I was going to post too that RiSE needs to come in from the Bottom , if it wants to be a supository to evacuate the bowels of poltics , that means councils.The council Elections , which should have been this year , will be next year.

        This given the last two parliamentary elections regarding SLAB , well it could be their defining moment , after all the very downtrodden they are purporting to represent , the unemployed and working poor , will perhaps offer that cross…. after seeing the result of the Tory rise , which is acutally a fall in maths but thats another topic.

        I do think that TS , hopefully retired , and CB have had their day.

        The very electorate that they chased do not respond well to internet campaigns , more than likely dont have the internet at all and cannot afford it. CB scores low with them , its a personality thing , unlike Champers Tommy whom once did score high , that is until his political assasination via Police Scotland , SSP and the MSM , regardless of whether he aided them or not.

        Just like the SNP they have to start somewhere , capitalise on those council elections , use local people as candidates , not ex drama drop outs with a webcam. The politics of council are very different to government , its rare to be parachuted in for a council job without any historical links to the ward , and an ideal place to learn the craft outside of university- Ironically which only serves to alienate their target audience.

        They need this to continue , the electorate for Holyrood wont budge , its them and us safety in numbers , and as long as the SNP hold the only tattered socialist ideology vs unionism , veneer or not , then they cannot take them on without long term growth. After all the SNP is 100 years old , and its power has only just peaked in the last 15 , SSP growth well you know the maths.

    2. RabMacPhoto says:

      Well said Onwards, couldn’t agree more.

  10. Doug Daniel says:

    “In addition, for all the talk of RISE as a ‘Scottish Syriza’, Scotland had already had its Syriza moment – in 2015, when the SNP stormed Westminster.”

    It’s refreshing to see someone involved in RISE admit that. The “Scottish Syriza” thing was the most obvious indicator of totally unrealistic expectations – that and the references to Podemos. Together, they betrayed a completely superficial understanding of what has been happening in Scottish, European and global politics from those at the centre of RISE, and hinted at a naive “if we build it, they will come” attitude.

    “We lacked paid researchers, local organisers and campaign managers – the basic infrastructure, in other words, of a successful election drive.”

    Dunno why parties pay for local organisers. I was an election agent and wasn’t paid a penny, nor were any of the other folk who helped the local campaign. We did it in our own spare time, and we managed to septuple the majority.

    “I doubt it would have performed any better had it stood independently. (In fact, RISE polled nearly 3000 votes more than the SSP did in 2011.)”

    I don’t think that stands up to scrutiny. Solidarity polled 11,500 votes more than 2011 and the Greens a whopping 63,000 more. I don’t really see any reason why the SSP shouldn’t have seen a similar upsurge in vote, or at the very least taken some of the votes that went to these parties. Instead, voters were presented with a ballot paper featuring this RISE party that didn’t even have a logo (on the ballot), so was indistinguishable from the plethora of tiny parties that no one even looks at on the list. Brand recognition is important, and the SSP is at least a recognised name.

    RISE couldn’t even reach the SSP’s 2007 total, when the socialist vote split 70/30 in Solidarity’s favour. Solidarity went from under 3,000 in 2011 to over 14,000; yet RISE took the SSP’s 8,272 total and increased that by under 2,500 votes. I see no reason to assume the SSP wouldn’t have done better.

    A concerted SSP campaign could have been spreading the word almost as soon as the 2015 election was over. Instead, RISE spent months trying to get itself organised, while Sheridan was already getting his (pish) message out to folk. I didn’t even get a leaflet from RISE (all parties are entitled to a free election address to every voter or household), whereas I even got one from the Communist Party.

    Electorally speaking at least, the RISE experiment has been a complete failure. I still have no idea why Cat Boyd and Jonathan Shafi didn’t just join the SSP, except perhaps ego and a need to have their own plaything, rather than simply being part of an existing socialist project. It was incredibly naive to think that something could go from inception to election in under 12 months, and if the SSP has any sense, they’ll concentrate on trying to win council seats in 2017 under their own name.

    (Didn’t mean that to be anywhere near as harsh as it sounds…)

    1. Darby O'Gill says:

      I think what you say makes a lot of sense Doug. We expended a vast amount of time and energy and no little money for little purpose. Many of us didn’t agree with the RISE experiment but went along with it because the
      Executive were in favour. I think it made us look very amateurish despite some good candidates and policies.

    2. Neil Scott says:

      Absolutely. The biggest mistake the SSP could now make is to force its local groups into canvassing as Rise for next year and beyond. Jonathan and Cat either need to get into the ssp and take over the leadership democratically, or bump along, taking Solidarity’s place as the next useless vehicle for egos. A modernised SSP- something some of us were attacked (and in the end gave up and left) for trying to attempt in the party, would get a lot of support. It’s time to come in from the cold, Shafi.

    3. Neil Scott says:

      I absolutely agree with this. It’s what many of us in the ssp said at the time. And we were hounded out. The ssp and rise, via the egos of those in charge, wrecked any chance of a united front.

      The fact is, some of us after the Indyref would have welcomed boyd and Shafi into the ssp. By Summer 2015, the ssp leadership would have been very different and the ssp would by now have presence in councils. All of this was massively sad. And the egos are still flying as the ssp old guard fight it out again. Will Rise rise again? They’d be silly to. They are not a trusted brand amongst the working class Yes voters. The ssp brand us, though. That’s the fight.

  11. Andrew says:

    The greens have the left wing policies. What they lack are authentic working class voices and that makes it hard for them to connect with those communities. RISE/SSP members could change that overnight and turn the greens into something much bigger and more influential. That would be the courageous thing to do.

    1. Jenny says:

      Yes, couldn’t agree more.

    2. c rober says:

      Something I had thought myself , but most areas already have green candidates , so unless there is drops from the Greens , as well as the money to parachute into wards with no real links , then anoter party was and is their only option for a future in politics.

      While we are at it I do think , Patrick Harvie would be a very good SNP politician , if not leader of it , even said it to him myself. If they party were someday to reject him , well perhaps Rise would then have its leader , and a middle class one to boot.

    3. Jim Bennett says:

      Hey Andrew, the Greens lack authentic working class voices? Whilst not wholly disagreeing with you, you obviously haven’t met Zara Kitson. Tremendous daughter of a former mining community. Deserves recognition more than many of RISE blowhards.

      1. RabMacPhoto says:

        “Their party and their candidates reflected themselves, the chattering-class Merchant City socialists with no real life experience.”

        Says it all Tommy; a romanticised idea of Socialism developed in University dining halls & wine bars by politics students who have no idea how the real world works.

    4. Tommy Ball says:

      The problem is, Andrew, that Rise don’t have any authentic working class voices either, which is a huge part of the reason why working class voters soundly and definitively rejected them last week.

      Their star candidate was an upper middle-class property owner from the West End whose mother is a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (hardly coming out of the fields and up from the mines to storm Parliament).

      On other lists, their candidates were university and college lecturers, one parliamentarian, teachers and university students. Only one person top of their list wasn’t a graduate.

      Their party and their candidates reflected themselves, the chattering-class Merchant City socialists with no real life experience.

      They certainly didn’t reflect society as a whole, and they couldn’t have been further away from representing the working class if they’d tried. They didn’t even manage to represent the romanticised, Kesian, working class they imagine in their minds.

      This election wasn’t a close thing for Rise. It was a disaster, with the wrong tactics, the wrong candidates, the wrong message, and the wrong campaign.

      The moment they gave the atrocious behaviour of the Young Team (sic) their official seal of approval, they gave tacit approval for those people to abuse, often in violent and aggressive terms, potential voters.

      Apart from all that, they did quite well.

      1. RabMacPhoto says:

        Oops; the comment above was a reply to Tommy but it’s appeared in the wrong place. My bad :/

  12. Neil Scott says:

    Good article in that it covers SOME of the immediate factors that led to the Rise carcrash.

    I think the question should be asked, why did huge swathes of SSP members refuse to take part? What happened to the ssp infrastructure outside Glasgow?

    The SSP were polling 3% even after it announced it was going it with Rise. The SSP had, despite Colin Fox’s “taking the fight to the SNP” nonsense, a great image with Yes activists after huge work its members did during indyref. All of that was lost by Rise. Why?

    To really analyse this, analysis must start at the roots- 2010, when the isg was formed and some key people became dis allusioned with Fox’s “democracy” in the party.

    Haste, ego, political “hatred,” political competition and reformers vs “pale male and female and stale” people played a huge part in Rise not attracting the reformers in the SSP- and “the enemy of my temporary friend” scenario meant the reformers within the ssp were either picked off by the old guard;sat on their hands or walked away from the slow carcrash of Rise/SSP that began in 2005.

  13. alan caldwell says:

    RISE activists often behaved appallingly on social media attacking anybody that had the audacity to disagree. Often this quickly developed into claims of sexism, rather than focusing on the actual debate in hand. In addition, the oft used phrase “make, pale and stale” only caused to alienate existing and potential supporters and narrow the demographic. Often, the shock tactics used were ill advised and ineffective, with most activity focussed on Glasgow alone. Why didn’t the SSP go it alone? The bounce of interest post referendum 3000 potential member applications, wasn’t followed up upon, a massive wasted opportunity. As for Cat and Jon, surely only their egos prevented them from joining the SSP?

  14. Jim Robertson says:

    The reason you failed appears to be partly all of those things. In the main your feeding ground is ‘socialism’ and not “talk slightly left of centre but act slightly right wing to business” SNP. They’re not called the Tartan Tories for nothing. And I’m a Tory supporter.

    The reason you’ll never get any traction and will fail consistently is RISE is run by bitter non-entities who show no class or decorum. And Scotland doesn’t do socialism nor does it do shouty socialism. Even the acronym is more like the Radical Independence Socialist Extremist party.

  15. smiling vulture says:

    why no mention Scottish labour,manifesto was left of snp

    1. Jim Bennett says:

      Perhaps because noone actually listens to Labour any more, so they could commit to nationalising the top 200 monopolies and it wouldn’ t even cause a ripple.t

    2. RabMacPhoto says:

      Raising the basic rate of income tax by a penny to “mitigate” Tory austerity, thereby ensuring Scots are taxed twice was never going to be a vote winner now was it?

      And that’s all they had.

  16. James says:

    RIC did some good work during the referendum, particularly in getting people to register. They also showed a determination not to do things other parties do though, like identifying supporters. They then all but disappeared until RISE appeared- It had no recognition, lost any goodwill RIC or SSP had and set out to belligerently demand SNP second votes.

    What they didn’t recognise was that those votes weren’t ours to give. They belonged to our supporters. We’ve chapped doors over decades. Doors where we were laughed at became doors where we commiserated with their betrayal by Labour and became doors where they supported us and wanted to discuss policy endlessly. We try where possible to thank them for putting their trust in us.

    I wouldn’t dare go back to those doors and ask them to vote for somebody else. Those votes are theirs and I’m very conscious they have only lent them to us. So the only second vote I could offer was my own, and that was always going SNP 1 and 2.

  17. Edwin Moore says:

    ‘We lacked paid researchers, local organisers and campaign managers – the basic infrastructure, in other words, of a successful election drive.’

    True, but then I expect the same could be said of the Scottish Christian Party and they got more votes than you.

    ‘Losing to Tommy Sheridan in Glasgow.’

    I was surprised at that but maybe the reason is just that people know wht Sullydarity is, what Sheridan is, and RISE maybe just not that obvious. Your campaign video was awful – reminded me of the Youn Ones send up – for Young Adults’ – ”Nozin Around.’

    1. Frank says:

      The Young Ones Nozn Around! Absolutely brilliant

  18. Mark Crawford says:

    All of these are valid points, but the turnout issue is critical – and, for that reason, neither RISE (nor any other serious left-wing organisation) should even think about standing in any more elections (certainly not the 2017 local elections, which is quite frankly a ridiculous suggestion so soon after polling 0.5% or whatever it was).

    A noble attempt, but time for sunset on this one, I’m afraid.

    1. Edwin Moore says:

      Surprised there has been so little comment about the turnout – 55% , just 5% up on the 2011 election. I think all of us expected (and hoped for) more

      1. Frank says:

        The turnout was the biggest story of the night and represented the decline of ‘yes’ as a social movement. Most people interpret their problems more in terms of individual biography than they do politics.

  19. Pogliaghi says:

    In general Scotland should have radical socialist and Green representation. Other European countries with PR do. If we don’t, it’s a sign we aren’t actually that much more progressive than England. So we can blame RISE all we like, but at the end of the day, if the problem exists in the voting booth or in the media then, maybe it’s just a sign Scotland is actually a bit shittier a country than post-referendum nationalist hype makes it out to be.

    However, RISE did seem to tailor its ‘messaging’ (I should shudder using that disgusting word but depressingly enough I don’t, even) to an extremely light-weight social media populism. Actually, I’m not sure it was consciously tailored at all, or merely a reflection of how the SSP and RISE still actually think. You write:

    “The left needs to shake its addiction to empty gesture politics. Moral outrage only gets you so far. ”

    And yet, at no time during the campaign or even now could a specific example of what this observation actually means happen without an avalanche of holier-than-thou politically correct social justice warrior acrimony. “Wings” has a point. The radical Left *does* lack a kind of self-awareness. It takes its values for universals, and that’s it ends up, not putting them forth reasonably but instead turning into an unsubtle punk-rock cliche self-parody. Some of it seems more like club promotion than electioneering.

    1. Edward Andrews says:

      First of all we don’t have a true PR system that would be STV or something similar, secondly simply not enough people were persuaded to vote for RISE so they wouldn’t have had anyone elected under any system.

    2. Edwin Moore says:

      ‘The radical Left *does* lack a kind of self-awareness. It takes its values for universals, and that’s it ends up, not putting them forth reasonably but instead turning into an unsubtle punk-rock cliche self-parody. Some of it seems more like club promotion than electioneering’


    3. Doug Daniel says:

      “In general Scotland should have radical socialist and Green representation. Other European countries with PR do. If we don’t, it’s a sign we aren’t actually that much more progressive than England. So we can blame RISE all we like, but at the end of the day, if the problem exists in the voting booth or in the media then, maybe it’s just a sign Scotland is actually a bit shittier a country than post-referendum nationalist hype makes it out to be.”

      By that logic, the lack of a Scottish equivalent of the Danish People’s Party, the Finns Party or the Freedom Party of Austria means we’re actually the most progressive country in Europe. Would that stand up to scrutiny?

      You’re making the same mistake RISE made, in looking at the politics of other countries and thinking they can simply be transposed onto Scotland. It’s pointless trying to make absolute comparisons with countries that already have independence – if nothing else, the Scottish Parliament does not have the powers to enact the kind of radical policies socialist and green parties from other countries would be advocating. Those in Scotland who would back socialist and green parties in other countries are currently giving their backing to the party promoting the most radical act of all – independence – because without that, all we can do is play around at the edges.

      You might as well criticise Denmark or Austria for not having parties that back independence from the UK…

      1. Mark Crawford says:

        “By that logic, the lack of a Scottish equivalent of the Danish People’s Party, the Finns Party or the Freedom Party of Austria means we’re actually the most progressive country in Europe. Would that stand up to scrutiny?”

        Only if “progressive” is a legitimate political category, which it isn’t. Presumably, a RISE member views all the other parties as just so many different shades of dishonesty, whereas RISE is telling people the truth (in fact, I must confess I did write an article exposing Sturgeon as a dishonest liberal for the Scottish Left Project, which certainly went down well with those who went on to form RISE).

        From RISE’s perspective, if they feel that – amidst all the dishonest parties in our current parliament – they have a more truthful message, then I suppose it’s perfectly legitimate to look abroad and see how that message is going down elsewhere.

        By the way, just to be clear – I don’t myself believe RISE have a truthful message. In retrospect, they have turned out to be just as dishonest as all the others.

  20. Sonny Crocket says:

    Hasta la proxima, hermano ! La proxima en LIBRE! 🙂

  21. Sam says:

    RISE poor polling was nothing to do with turnout – 289,000 more people voted in 2016 than 2011, and all the main parties saw a net increase except for Labour.

    The harsh truth is that RISE is an unnecessary entrant to the political arena and merely splits the existing YES movement.

    It is a nonsense that when the SNP and Greens are polling at almost historically high numbers that new parties set up hoping to capture magic.

    At best, RISE is ill thought out and unnecessary,

    At worse, it is a vanity project that can only do more harm than good.

    If it were any other, RISE would have polled higher without damaging the SNP and Greens. Instead, Lab voters migrated to the Conservatives and SNP in the main.

  22. Bill Melvin says:

    Politics is changing and Scotland is crying out for Independence but people everywhere who want the opportunities that Independence can bring us need a reality check. The SNP got us to where we are and we are close to convincing our fellow countrymen in enough numbers to get Independence but too many egos at work amongst these smaller groups who think there is some sort of short cut to the privilege of running the country. Having only joined the SNP during the indy ref I am constantly impressed by the resolve, determination and energy of those long serving campaigners now seeing stuff they have dreamed of for years. If we want true independence then the SNP is the vessel which can deliver it, Scots just need to get on board and work till the case is self evident and undeniable, then it doesn’t matter what the UK Gov, Ruth Davidson or any other politician getting a say on the back of minority control has to contribute, the people will decide. After Indy its all change, we still need the best in Gov but with full levers of power we can make this country great.

  23. howauldzyergranny says:

    RISE’s campaign was so antagonistic I voted for Tommy Sheridan.
    I say this as someone who actively despises Tommy Sheridan.

    1. Black Rab says:

      How can you hate Tommy Sheridan. He got rid of the barbarism of warrant sales.

  24. Jim Bennett says:

    RISE entirely failed to do anything that its twitteratti promised. I think Solidarity beat them everywhere they stood – unbelievably humiliating. However, the Solidarity/RISE fight is the two blind men fighting overa comb cliche.
    SSPTUSCSOLIDARITYCPSP silliness is one of the key reasons; an entirely fragmented left, full of ego and pythonesque infighting. RISE activists deluded themselves into believing their own social media twittering.
    The neat advice for RISE wouldn’t be to stand for any elections or join the SNP/Greens. An entryist campaign into the Labour Party, using their remaining base to fight for Left policies, building on the home rule strain and using LP resources would bring more results. It’s that or simply wrap it all up and dissolve into single issue campaigns.

    1. RabMacPhoto says:

      “Pythonesque infighting”

      T’was ever thus with Socialist alliances; they run ok for a while, then disintegrate into bitterness, acrimony and playground level argument – “We’re mair radical than youse”…”Naw yeese urnae, we’re the maist radical so there” etc etc ad bloody nauseum.

      1. Darby O'Gill says:

        Sadly, very true

  25. frankie says:

    The storming of the Winter Palace never happened (Only in Eisenstein’s movie) so if RISE could have found such a place they would indeed have been the first to do so.(Read Dr Jimmy White’s book) This is part of the problem I have with RISE. Their romantic notions of revolution and socialism. It is embarrassing and the equivalent in Scottish terms would be basing your entire belief system on the film Braveheart. Please stop it.

  26. Redgauntlet says:

    To carry out a post mortem, you need a corpse, and I don’t know if the votes which RISE got constitute a body sufficient for such ends…

    It is a mystery to me why Scotland, unlike most European countries, is incapable of producing a small but robust and fertile left wing movement. With our radical tradition, you would think it would come naturally: John MacLean, James Connolly, Kier Hardie.

    And more so now than ever with rising inequality, lack of social mobility, thousands of foodbanks, and the destruction of the Welfare State, in a neo imperial British State involved in military adventurism in several Muslim countries…

    There seems to be no real interest in tackling chronic poverty and social injustice, in any of the main parties in Scotland. Instead of talking about child poverty, we get “baby boxes”. More fancy footwork from the SNP. There is simply no excuse for chronic poverty in our age, much less in the case of children.

    When SNP folk tell me that, once we are independent, all these problems will melt away, you know what? I don’t believe you. I don’t believe most SNP voters are any more interested in abolishing poverty than the Tories or Labour are…

    …which probably goes some way to explaining the low turn out. If the choice is between the Tory Tories, the Red Tories, and the Tartan Tories in the Constituency vote, why bother?

    Maybe, as somebody else says above, the Scots are “no that bothered” about poverty and so not as Left wing as they like to paint themselves…

    As I write, there are 10,000 missing refugee children in Europe, mostly from Syria and Afghanistan….though you would never have known it from the zero coverage it has received in the press.

    Hopefully this is the last of the reflections on the Scottish elections, because the effect on politically active Scots is to make them more parochial and narrow and self-obsessed…

    10,000 missing bairns….

    1. Mark Crawford says:

      Maybe it also has something to do with the SNP’s basically Maoist policy of winning independence through a united front (which echoes Mao’s call for nationalists and communists to temporarily put their differences aside and fight the Japanese as part of what was known as the Second United Front). It’s all very weird when you look at WoS and see the use of Maoist iconography, references to “Great Leaps Forward” etc. Totally postmodern, nonetheless.

      1. Redgauntlet says:

        It’s meant to be a mass movement, not a party, right? Can anybody name me a country which won indie through the offices of one conventional political party alone? Is there a historical example? I can’t think of one. We are groping around in the dark.

        How did Norway achieve indie from Sweden? Here is what Wiki says:

        “The conflict came to a head over the so-called “consul affair,” in which successive Norwegian governments insisted that Norway should establish its own consular offices abroad, rather than rely on the common consulates appointed by the Swedish foreign minister. As the long-standing practice for the conduct of joint foreign policy had been that a Swede always hold the office of foreign minister, the Swedish government and king opposed this insistence, seeing it as a rejection of the throne’s right to set foreign policy.

        While Norway’s Liberal Party had pioneered an uncompromising position through the so-called “fist policy,” the Conservative Party also came to adopt a strong policy in favour of at least de facto independence and equality within the personal union. Although both parties made efforts to resolve the issue through negotiations, Norwegian public opinion became gradually more entrenched.

        Both Sweden and Norway increased their military expenditure, and Norway modernized the frontier forts at Kongsvinger and Fredriksten and built a series of new military strongholds along its border with Sweden.

        In early 1905, Christian Michelsen formed a coalition government consisting of liberals and conservatives, whose only stated objective was to establish a separate Norwegian corps of consuls. The law was passed by the Norwegian parliament. As expected and probably as planned, King Oscar II refused to accept the laws, and the Michelsen government resigned. When the king declared himself unable to form a cabinet under the present circumstances, a constitutional crisis broke out on 7 June 1905. Later that day, the Storting voted unanimously to dissolve the union with Sweden, taking the line that Oscar had effectively abandoned his role as King of Norway by refusing to appoint a replacement government. Norway considers 7 June to be the date that it regained its independence, even though Norway had possessed the legal status of an independent state since 1814….”

        One single all sizes fits party is doomed to incoherence or dissolution…

  27. Ian Vallance says:

    I have no doubt that a well funded well organised and well run campaign could have seen fascists elected to Holyrood. But would that make their ideas “right”? Just maybe Rise didn’t make a “break through” because their basic ideas are fundamentally flawed and deeply unattractive to the vast majority of people? It is a common mantra of the zealot when faced with opposition to their ideas to find any excuse for failure other than that they might just be wrong.

    1. Redgauntlet says:

      Nobody got to hear what the basic ideas of RISE even were…what are they?

      1. David McCann says:

        Your cynicism is showing when you state that the SNP members are no more interested in social justice is quite simply wrong.
        Our local SNP branch recently donated a considerable sum of money to the refugee crisis at a time when our funds were low, following the referendum, and what prey is so wrong with baby boxes? The policy has been widely praised and is a huge success in Finland where it was initiated.
        The SNP have been trying to get elected for over 80 years, to change Scotland.
        Perhaps you have a better idea to achieve change, so perhaps you will share it with us.
        In the meantime I will continue as a self serving member of the SNP

        1. Redgauntlet says:

          David McCann, I am pretty fed up of SNP gloaters by now….the SNP received the backing of between 20-25% of the Scottish electorate…

          50% didnay bother voting…at the moment in history we are at, that is disappointing. Indie either happens soon or it will go off the boil. Asking the whole of Scotland to vote SNP is hardly a strategy…

          1. Onwards says:

            RedGauntlet – Rise got 0.25% of the total vote if you want to play the game of involving the entire electorate.

            Even if you don’t think the SNP are as left wing as you want them to be, surely they are better than the Tories ?? Can’t they be seen as a means to an end at least ?

            Of course turnout was down. We had a combination of the minor parties telling everyone the SNP majority could be taken for granted, whilst badmouthing them all over the media, saying Sturgeon was the new Thatcher etc. No wonder many people would have been discouraged to stay away.

            There was absolutely NO tactical thinking in the slightest, or any understanding why the SNP had to take the moderate strategy it did. Getting attacked from our so called YES allies was short sighted in the extreme and only benefited the Tories.

            The threat to the pro-indy vote wasn’t on the left. It was in wealthy Tory, NO voting areas on the right, where 3 way splits could target the SNP through tactical voting.

            You are right in that there is a limited window of opportunity to achieve independence. That’s why the RISE anti-SNP strategy was so short-sighted, and why it was so frustrating for SNP members over the last few months. The party had to try and walk a tightrope in the middle, taking pelters from both sides.

            At the end of the day, there isn’t room for 3 very similar parties on the radical left, fighting over the same relatively small slice of the vote.
            If RISE members really do want independence, the smart move is to join the SNP or the Greens. The Greens could do with a few hundred new members keeping them straight on independence, where they aren’t exactly trusted.

          2. Redgauntlet says:

            Onwards, political parties don’t win national independence….national movements do…

            The YES movement accounted for about a third of the 45% of the vote on 18Sep. If the result has been just 30% for YES, indie would be dead in the water for another 20 years…if it wasn’t for the Scottish Left, it would be over…

            Of course I prefer the SNP to the Tories, but your calling for people to go join the Greens and forget about RISE is hardly consistent because the Greens used to poll next to nothing either….and by the way, when I was a bairn in the 70’s, I would go leafleting for the SNP with my dad, who is still an SNP member, when the SNP were polling 14% and dismissed as a bunch of cranks…things can change fast…

            Stewart Hosie won’t play in Govanhill…nor will John Swinney…and they won’t play there ever probably. The key to indie is a revitalized Scottish Left which can win a big chunk of the Labour vote, and get left leaning supporters to the polling station, the ones who didn’t vote the other day…

            Nobody is disagreeing that RISE had a disastrous result. But your remedy, which is basically that everybody else think like you, is hardly persuasive, mon….

  28. Scott Macdonald says:

    I’m presently pondering whether to support SSP reaffiliation to RISE.

    There was a real lack of recognition and understanding of RISE’s profile, purpose and political character among the non-politico working class – few had heard of it. Not even a suite of strong class-oriented policy, high-quality candidates and occasional sympathetic media coverage helped make a dent in the dreary news cycle, livened only by Gary Tank Commander’s cheerful interrogations.

    Without the SSP – it’s unlikely RISE would have gotten off the ground as any manner of electoral force. As it happened, RISE simply wasn’t a player. Would the Scottish Socialist Party have been – had they not affiliated?

    I’ll never know, but the SSP is a known quantity and brand – it is one that needs refreshing – but the clue was in the name, everyone knows what it means on hearing it. Most people know what the Scottish Socialist Party stand for, and how it works. RISE, despite running a ticket of 5/8 top SSP candidates, and a programme of 90% SSP policy – didn’t have anywhere near the same recognition.

    The context for this is undoubtedly the referendum campaign, much of which’s eventual near-success was in awakening the shape of class politics. The polls didn’t converge much until RIC and Yes started playing similar sheet music on preserving that which is important for working class people.

  29. Jim Monaghan says:

    Actually in 2003 there were other left parties competing for the votes too. In fact the Socialist Labour Party, who polled well behind the SSP in that election, had over 20,000 votes. There were also Independents such as Dr Jean Turner, Margo MacDonald and Dennis Canavan, and the Pensioners Party who put forward an ‘old Labour’ style manifesto. The SSP, Greens, Pensioners and Indepedents returned 17 MSPs between them. The crowded field argument doesnt stand up to scrutiny.

    1. Piemonteis says:

      It can be argued that, back in 2003, the voting system wasn’t properly understood, and the regional vote was considered by many as a second preference.

      The “Both Votes X” campaigns have intensifies since 2007, meaning there is less fluidity between the constituency and list vote, and therefore fewer votes up for grabs for smaller parties.

  30. Gerry Fisher says:

    This analysis takes me back to the “split” in the SNP after the 79 election, which brought in Messrs Sillars and Neil, to join Alex who was the leading member of a group which arose in the Party which was determined to move the Party to the left to defeat the Labour who were in control. While I was clear that we had to beat, indeed destroy, Labour to achieve Independence (although a former Labour Party member who had stood in Council elections while working in England) it did seem to me that we had to appeal across the divides to get a majority of all the voters if we were ever going to get that Independence which could give all Scots the opportunity to decide the political colour of the Nation and all of its subsequent changes. I find, as ever, the idea of people telling me and everyone else that they want Independence but it has to be a Socialist, or a republican, independence or they will not agree to it, not merely stupid but illogical and undemocratic, since they will not ever get the chance of their preferred governance without independence in the first place. And the decision as to socialist, social democratic, conservative, monarchist or republican is not theirs to make but belongs to whoever commands the majority of the votes in an independent Scotland. Independence first without conditions
    then, and only then, can we get the form of political system which the voters choose. And that choice for independence cannot, in my view, be compatible with membership of the EU and subordinate to a Court which can strike down laws made by its Parliament, denying the Sovereignty of the Scots which is at the heart of the meaning of Scottish Independence

    1. Redgauntlet says:

      But, Gerry Fisher, that is exactly what the SNP just tried to do 18S – impose a preordained version of indie on Scotland: keep the monarchy, keep the pound, stay in NATO etc…

      ..I don’t think there is anything undemocratic about it, but if the SNP were a movement instead of a political party, they wouldn’t have to define policy, they wouldn’t have to publish a White Paper…the argument would be, as you rightly say, that these things will be decided once we have attained independence, the principle of which is sound.

      But the SNP are a political party, not a movement, and like all political parties, they come up with policies aimed at wooing voters.

      It’s for just that reason that I don’t think the SNP can win indie for Scotland on their own, and that you need several pro indie parties all drawing in people of different political persuasions….

      1. Doug Daniel says:

        “But, Gerry Fisher, that is exactly what the SNP just tried to do 18S – impose a preordained version of indie on Scotland: keep the monarchy, keep the pound, stay in NATO etc…”

        The alternative – a Scottish republic outside NATO using its own currency – would also have been a preordained version of independence. Well, I say “also”, but what was presented wasn’t preordained, or certainly not in terms of the issues you raise. The point of those no-change stances was to avoid putting people off by making too many decisions all in one go. We weren’t saying “keep the Queen forever”, we were saying “the referendum isn’t about the Queen, so deal with that after independence”. Same with the pound and NATO.

        It may or may not have been the right decision, but to say those were about a preordained version of independence just isn’t accurate.

        1. Redgauntlet says:

          Hi Doug.

          If the SNP simply said that they would defer any decision about Head of State / currency / NATO until after Scotland is indie, I would vote for them every single time.

          What I find impossible to do is vote for a party which endorses the monarchy. To radically change Scottish society, you must get rid of the monarchy. If Scots voted to keep it, then I would have to hud ma wheesht, but the SNP actively endorse the monarchy…”She’s our Queen too” said Salmond. Well, she’s no mine…

  31. Piemonteis says:

    For a separate or coalition left-wing entity to succeed in Scotland, it needs to take council elections seriously, and that’s something RISE has failed to do since it was formed. No group has an entitlement to a seat in the Scottish Parliament, and hard work needs to be done locally to earn the legitimacy that will make it electable on a national level.

    There was a council by-election in Anderston/City in Glasgow on the same day as last week’s vote, and RISE failed to stand a candidate, in an area they should be looking for increased exposure.

    Much of the Greens’ electoral success since the 2007 purge of minor parties has come about by winning local council seats in areas such as Leith, the West End of Glasgow and Dunblane, and the elected members have managed to make a name for themselves on a regional level. Many agree, for example, that Aberdeenshire councillor Martin Ford would have had more success on the North East list than co-convenor Maggie Chapman.

    Whether it’s RISE or the SSP, that’s where left-wing electoral success needs to start: in the councils.

  32. John Mooney says:

    Attempting to take the “Rise” out of SNP. voters with stupid and ill considered attacks plus what appeared to be ego trips by Shafi and Boyd indulging in student era political diatribes.Go figure! :o)

  33. Fran says:

    Lets see what the future holds for Rise. Don’t see the likes of Cat Boyd giving up any time soon. She’s a powerhouse and is making a lot of sense to a lot of women.

    1. Black Rab says:

      Cat Boyd makes complete sense, all socialists do essentially. RISE and Cat Boyd are for the future, not now.

  34. Billy says:

    I think one reason for RISE rather than SSP is because a lot of people who founded RISE were people who left the SSP over the whole Sheridan debacle and obviously out of pride wouldn’t go back. Pat Smith, for example, was originally on the Edinburgh list even though she has called Colin Fox a liar in court!

    The points cited in the article are all good ones that will impact any new political party. Messaging was also in the wrong order, they should have introduced themselves by talking about all of their policies and visions and then finished campaign by saying ‘not only should you vote for us, but you can also do so without damaging chances of pro-independence majority.’ Instead they seemed to be saying ‘you’ve never heard of us, but give us your second vote. Oh yeah, here’s some policies.’

    1. Davy says:

      Billy wrote: “I think one reason for RISE rather than SSP is because a lot of people who founded RISE were people who left the SSP over the whole Sheridan debacle and obviously out of pride wouldn’t go back. Pat Smith, for example, was originally on the Edinburgh list even though she has called Colin Fox a liar in court!”

      I think those people you are referring to had been in the SWP platform within the SSP , who followed Sheridan out of the SSP to opportunistically support Sheridan’s vanity project in setting up Solidarity.
      I agree that probably played a factor , for those exSWP members in setting up RISE rather than just joining SSP.

  35. Frank says:

    The politics of Rise were all wrong. Shafi and co all come from an SWP background and they made two mistakes in this election which were typical SWP. First: the tendency for hype and hyperbole based on a misreading of the Scottish situation, which led to absurd claims such as the Scottish Syriza. This also included their leading members stating that Rise was a left unity project despite the obvious existence and exclusion of Solidarity and TUSC. Moreover, they got overexcited about the independence movement just at the moment the movement went into decline. An entire thesis could be written about the left’s attachments to movements which have went into decline. The SWP were still organising Stop the War meetings many years after the war had started and ended! The second SWP trait is Sectarian Division which led to their silly strategy of trying to win SNP votes whilst simultaneously attacking the SNP.

    Their future does not look good. They could dissolve into the SSP. Yet, this strategy is problematic because the SSP brand remains toxic following the Sheridan debacle and the party has not polled well since 2003. Colin Fox is looking tired as their leader and has been at the helm now for 11 years which is not healthy in any party. The other alternative would be to concentrate on building their own organisation but again that future looks bleak because there is no electoral space for them.

    My advice for the likes of Cat Boyd and co would be for them to join the Greens or the SNP. It’s the politics of ego mania to form your own party. But joining mass party’s requires compromise and rejecting dogma. I’m not sure if Rise would be capable of this?

    1. Redgauntlet says:

      Frank…I doubt Cat Boyd needs your advice, huh? All you patronizing SNP posters really get on my tits…

  36. Frank says:

    That was a bit uncalled for?

    1. John Mooney says:

      No point in arguing with Judean front zealots,leave them to their retro 1970’s mantras howling at the Moon,cheers.:o)

      1. Redgauntlet says:

        Rather vote for the Judean People’s Front than be a slave to pomp and royalty and inbred class privilege…they should maybe change the name to SMP…the Scottish Monarchist Party….

        …away and tug yer forelock and bend the knee, John Mooney, that’s all your good for…Burns, Wallace, MacDiarmid, all of them would turn in their grave at this two bit faux nationalist party you happy clappers are so smug and pleased with…

        1. John Mooney says:

          Are you a unionist troll in disguise? or just another inadequate clown with a keyboard who does not even have the guts to post under your own name,in the old Glasgow phrase a “CHANTY RASSLER” Cheers. :o)

  37. Frank says:

    Oh dear. Scratch beneath the happy clapper surface of many on the radical left and you will find an authoritarian personality bursting to get out. Seriously, you do Rise no favours coming on here and being abusive, whilst hiding behind a fake identity.

    1. Redgauntlet says:

      Point out where I am being abusive Frank? Enlighten me? And I’m no in RISE…

  38. Frank says:

    When you described people as patronising and getting on your tits. And I’m no in the SNP!

    1. Redgauntlet says:

      That counts as “abusive” in your world, Frank? What is this, Little House on the Prairie? The Waltons…???

  39. Frank says:

    You are violating my safe space comrade.

    1. John Mooney says:

      Not to worry Frank, the juvenile ranter can howl at the moon all he likes .he is more to be pitied than traduced,I remember clowns like him outside the shipyard gates in the sixties,they eventually morphed into new Labour clones as the grew older,same old same old hypocrites! :o)

  40. Julia Gibb says:

    “the parrot is dead!”

    Never mind Bella will keep you going for a few years. Look on the bright side you have a party magazine.

  41. niall says:

    Get all your voters to join the Labour party and re animate it’s corpse into something socialist.


  42. Ian Kirkwood says:

    Is RISE dynamic and imaginative? Radical socialism is seen as a failed experiment in much of the world. Are there additional ways to achieve the RISE objectives? At the point where Marxism had identified capitalism as enemy number one, Marx himself pointed out that even capitalists are reliant on landowners for spaces on which to run their enterprises. What do you see if you look beyond capitalism to the layer behind?

    This is key, because today society’s investments that raise site values are still given free to owners. Those not owning land are rendered outcasts by such a tax system. I strongly suggest focusing on how collecting the rents of land would re-enfranchise the outcasts and start the process of consigning inequality to history.

    There would be rewards for the party that can grasp and articulate the reforms that would flow from AGR (otherwise known as LVT). Please look at the SLRG facebook page to see how AGR would fulfill all RISE’s hopes. http://www.facebook.com/AGRforScotland

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