One Year To Go: Radical Perspectives

With exactly one year remaining ahead of the referendum, Radical Independence activists from across Scotland assess where we’re currently at and what we steps we need to take to win the fight for a new Scotland…

It’s comin’ yet for a’ that…

One Year to Go: “My self-interest in Scotland achieving independence is that I want to help create a better society for my children to live in.”

Tony Kenny is a Radical Independence Glasgow North-East activist.

There is a degree of self-interest in all of our actions. Few of us are born secular saints weaned at the fountain of altruism. My self-interest in Scotland achieving independence is that I want to help create a better society for my children to live in.

I frequently use the phrase ‘Scotland is stinking rich’ because I hate getting bogged down in the polite responses to the deliberate ploy of obfuscation designed to muddy the waters over our national finances. The No side want to subtly reinforce the ‘too poor’ nonsense in lieu of actual supporting evidence. We have been subsidising the rest of the UK for over 30 years, it’s time we used that money to counter the effects of the the stagnation and poverty we see in Scotland instead of funding tax breaks for the rich. In short, we get to use our money to use in our best interests.

Nothing will remain the same after independence, we either vote for positive change or malign change. Positive change gives us an opportunity to affect change in the system as a whole. There are no opportunities to be a beacon of progress as part of the UK. An independent Scotland will rid ourselves of archaic Monarchy, imperialist wars and weapons of mass destruction; eventually. We can become a beacon of progress and a launchpad for people in England to base their demands for a fairer society for them too. George Osborne came up to Scotland to tell us we would all be poorer if we go the way of Norway: he must think we are fools, the World Bank goes to Norway for loans, and Norway is not resource rich as Scotland! We need a real plan, not based on the false ideology of hoping for a labour victory. Considering inequality widened under the last labour government, putting your hopes in Labour is a cruel joke.

A no vote continues the erosion of wages, term and conditions. Explosion of zero hours contracts and the austerity war on our poorest and most vulnerable. We are not far off from having to line up in the morning to get picked for a day’s work. Rewind to the 1930′s. The race to privatisation of the NHS in England ensures that we too will be forced down that route no matter how hard any Scottish government fights to prevent it. The Barnett formula contains within it a mechanism for the NHS. Less public money goes to the English NHS due to private finance, which ensures a lower devolved settlement for the NHS in Scotland.

One of my children has asthma, no fault of his or others who have chronic or lifelong illnesses. My selfish interest is not forcing those with no choice into having to pay through the nose, or even the indignity of using poor hospitals. All of this is the reality of our short-term future within the UK, no hyperbole, no flag waving, just cold raw matter of fact. When faced with this, there is no shame in any of us being selfish.

One Year to Go: “This is about making people understand that optimism can triumph over inertia.”

Janet Moxley is involved in the Radical Independence Campaign and the Scottish Green Party in Biggar

I’m looking at the last year as someone fairly new to taking a stand on politics, so I wanted to first of all reflect on what has happened thus far. The campaign has been characterized by bags of effort, but perhaps a lack of vision from the mainstream Yes movement, whereas the Radical Independence movement has started to change the game and really get people sitting up, listening and discussing some of the key issues affecting Scotland today. How do we want to deliver our services? Who should own land and property? Where does power lie now and where should it be located? What is the role of the state? How should our tax and benefit systems operate? How should we defend our country and from whom?

These are key arguments. Partly powered by social media the Radical Independence has brought together a vibrant assemblage of individuals or a broadly left/Green persuasion with a shared interest in fundamentally changing the power structures of Scotland. People who never knew each other are sharing knowledge, experience and skills, and bouncing ideas off each other. I’ve realized that a guy with glasses who I’ve seen around my town on and off for years but never got to know has some bloody good ideas! I’ve found that other people can see the problems with market forces and self-serving power and the value of strong communities and environmental responsibility. This is an energising place to be!

The Radical Independence concerns may sound abstract and academic, but framed in real-life examples they resonate. People easily understand that privatizing Royal Mail or the NHS will not bring any benefits to them, only to owners of shares in the private companies wanting to run them. People in rural areas know that in the big estates still hold sway over many aspects of life from owning the land they farm to implementing major projects such as unconventional gas extraction in the face of community opposition. The influence of large corporate and private land owners on our towns and cities is perhaps less well understood, but no less pernicious. People know that there would be no need for an independent Scotland to have nuclear weapons. And people are sick and tired of finding that their voices are drowned out as democracy is subverted by corporate power, inherited wealth and plain old self-interest.

The main stream Yes movement needs to tap into this debate. They should not fear scaring people with change. People are scared about what the current power structures are doing to them, but feel powerless to change things. They understand that it is needed, but need to be convinced that it is possible. The fear that it might not be is what is holding people back from signing up to independence. This is about making people understand that optimism can triumph over inertia.

While the Yes campaign has done some good grass roots campaigning, it needs to reach out beyond its SNP base to engage with other groups, Greens, disillusioned Labour voters, people who are disillusioned with party politics and the undecided voters. I hope in the next year it moves the debate beyond the traditional arguments of disempowerment and aggrevience “They stole our oil”; “The media is biased”, “Labour betrayed us in ‘79” “They’re lying”. It might be true, but it doesn’t inspire. Chips on shoulders and tit for tat accusions aren’t going to win this debate. The independence debate must keep focused on the main issue and not get bogged down in dealing with side issues as the No campaign wants us to do. We must keep setting the agenda!

The independence movement needs to show vision, show a new kind of positive politics, and to keep putting in the hours and the energy. If we keep going and keep positive we can build a new Scotland. It will be hard work. There will be soggy days leafleting and meetings in chilly halls. There will be difficult conversations. It will be tiring. But there will also be empowerment, friendships, laughter and strength. There is something special and strong going on here. We need to build on it!

One year to Go: “Hardly anyone was ever going to vote for independence on the prospectus that some impressive people promised things wouldn’t get any worse.”

Gary Dunion is a co-editor of the Bright Green blog []

I attended the launch of Yes Scotland, in the modest surroundings of an Edinburgh Cineplex in May last year. We watched a film rich in views of Scottish glens, and the views of rich Scottish personages.

Within a year, the campaign that began with the rather patronising assurances of besuited bosses was railing daily against welfare cuts and anti-immigrant rhetoric being imposed on Scotland by Westminster – a transformation for which the Radical Independence Campaign can take a great deal of credit. Where once cutting corporation tax was the flagship policy opportunity offered by Yes Scotland, now it is abolishing the Bedroom Tax.

The journey of the Yes campaign has accelerated the maturation of Scottish politics from what some regarded in 1999 as a jumped-up County Council to a confident, progressive and politically distinct polity (however much Scottish Labour’ fight to hold back the tide).

This has, to my mind, three great consequences.

First, it gives us the best chance of winning in a year’s time. Hardly anyone was ever going to vote for independence on the prospectus that some impressive people promised things wouldn’t get any worse. The uncertainties are inflated beyond reason by the No campaign spinners, but clearly independence is an investment of faith, and there has to be some payoff to make it worthwhile. We’re now starting to see that prize clearly.

Second, the shape of the referendum debate will have a great influence on the shape of our new country, should we win. Anyone who thinks independence alone is a magic pill that will cure the sicknesses we’ve contracted from Westminster is deluded – it’s up to us to decide what to do with independence, and that decision starts now. I am delighted that we are seeing a growing consensus that the point of independence is the opportunity to take a different path from our corporately-captured metropole.

Third, the independence campaign – in all its diversity – now represents the most positive, most optimistic, most energetic force for progressivism in these islands. The “centre-left” party in the UK has not even been able to bring itself to speak up for the abolition of the Bedroom Tax, or for the renationalisation of the railways, or for the rights of newcomers to the country – all positions that are uncontroversial within the independence campaign. The contrast between our campaign and these enfeebled, diffident “progressives” is stark. This campaign is an inspiration to many beyond Scotland’s borders, as indeed I hope our independent Scotland will be too.

I hope that one proof of life for the renaissance of the left that Scotland has witnessed will be a Euro result that upsets that narrative. UKIP enjoys blanket support from the London-led media, but Scotland may yet prove its Waterloo. The ultra-nationalists crashed and burned in the Aberdeen Donside by-election, shortly after their leader’s tribulations in Edinburgh.

Meanwhile, the Greens have nominated a candidate from the left of the party, Maggie Chapman, running on an essentially Radical Independence agenda – no to NATO, independence from the City of London through our own currency, pro-migrant (she’s an immigrant from Zimbabwe herself), pro-renationalisation, and standing for devolution beyond Edinburgh, giving real power to local communities. She’s made no secret of her desire to work with progressive independents, other socialist parties and those unused to electoral politics to make the case for modern, radical, left, internationalist politics.

For Scotland to tear up the script, cancelling UKIP’s planned triumph and instead rewarding an unapologetically radical, left candidate with her party’s first Euro seat, would magnify the gains of the radical independence movement. It would show real passion and vision, making independence itself more likely. It would send a message to our own politicians that this is what we will mean when we vote Yes in September – we are voting for a different kind of nation, true to the values of the Scottish people. And it would be a morale boost to our somewhat beleaguered comrades across the UK; a red banner raised on a political battlefield that to many is starting to look like a graveyard.

So my hope for the next year is that a Green victory in May will be one of many victories for the broad alliance of progressive forces in Scotland. That the coalition which began in earnest at the Radical Independence Conference will succeed in winning a genuinely radical, progressive, independent country in which to live. And that in the process we will give new energy to our friends fighting for the same, across the British Isles and across the world.

One Year to Go: “… the idea of linking the demand for independence with radical social and economic change is not new, but today it is an idea whose time has come.”

Duncan McCabe is a campaigner in Radical Independence Dundee

The first Radical Independence Conference was held almost a year ago, and since then an active campaign organisation has developed with branches across the country. Although the current campaign is a new development, it builds on an historic tradition of radicalism linked to demands for independence that can be traced back to the time of the French revolution.

Ideas of liberty, equality and fraternity transformed the basis of philosophy, politics, economics, music and poetry, inspired all sorts of people from Beethoven and Burns to Telford and Priestly, but most of all it pervaded the consciousness of ordinary people all across Europe.

In Scotland the influence was felt in the 1820 Radical Rising as Weavers marched, probably with a penny edition of Thomas Paine’s Rights of Man in their pockets, under the banner ‘Scotland Free or a Desert’ only to be cut down by Dragoons near Bonnybridge. Their slogan has resonated across two hundred years, and it certainly did with me during the 1980’s. Thatcher created an industrial desert across Scotland with all the social problems we are still wrestling with today.

This radical independence tradition reasserted itself in the 1920’s as John MacLean proclaimed the Scottish Workers Republic. So the idea of linking the demand for independence with radical social and economic change is not new, but today it is an idea whose time has come.

The thirty plus years of the neo-liberal agenda has made mass unemployment the norm for Scotland and for much of the rest of the world, with most new jobs low-paid and insecure. Globalisation has vastly increased inequality, destroyed vibrant local economies by opening them up to unrestricted competition from low wage, no tax paying multinational corporations, and has transferred public assets into private hands with over $30 trillion sitting in tax havens globally as ordinary people face perpetual austerity.

As the world faces converging economic and ecological crises we need to be part of the solution NOT part of the problem. An independent Scotland must be part of a global challenge to the neo-liberal new world order by promoting radical socio-economic alternatives, new forms of participatory democracy, seeking equality not just in the present but, through concepts of inter-generational equity, in the future as well.

A new narrative of hope is required to engage the 99% in a belief that liberty, equlity and fraternity is still a possibility and that our collective actions can make another world possible. This referendum campaign offers us the opportunity to open a fundamental discussion about the type of society we want to live in – a discussion that is not even possible within the confines of a British state wedded to hierarchical power structures, wealth inequality and class privilege.

The entrenched intransigence of the Westminster establishment has made change almost impossible to imagine, but here in Scotland we now have an opportunity to break free, to develop new ideas and become the people we always wanted to be.

It’s an opportunity we may not have again, and we simply can’t afford to waste.

This article was originally posted on the Radical Independence Dundee website.

One Year to Go: “…we do need to remind people of the consequences of voting No.”

Isobel Lindsay is Vice-Chair of Scottish CND

The opportunity to make a major historical change doesn’t come often. We are privileged in having that choice and it is a vote we can win. But there are two things we have to do. One is to get voters thinking about what could be done with the powers of independence. The other is to get them thinking about how vulnerable Scotland would be if the vote was No.

It is the positive case that is the more important. We have a strong evidence-based argument to show that when Scotland is given the opportunity, we reject the neo-liberal consensus of Westminster and choose policies that are in the social democratic mainstream with a significant Green dimension. The Scottish Parliament chose to keep the health service clearly in the public sector. It chose to support universal benefits and not a divisive selective system for elderly care, university education, prescription charges. It rejected any new nuclear power stations and has strongly promoted renewable energy. It has retained an integrated comprehensive education system not the fragmented system in England. It made some progress on land reform. Where it has had power, it has chosen differently from Westminster and that strong evidence shows that if it gained power over welfare, over taxation, over trade and employment policy, over defence and international affairs, it would make different choices. It is inconceivable that a Scottish government would have implemented the bedroom tax or the type of assessments being carried out by Atos. Or that it would be pouring money into Trident. We have a political majority in Scotland to introduce a constitutional clause prohibiting nuclear weapons on our territory.

As well as the evidence of how we have chosen in the past, we need to engage people with a coherent vision of what we could do in Scotland. This is what the Common Weal project is seeking to do – to show that we can move away from the British low wage, high inequality economy, that we can look to the social services in more successful Nordic countries, and we can look to the positive contribution to international affairs made by some of the world’s small countries like New Zealand, Finland, Sweden, Switzerland in contrast to the British warfare state. A Yes vote is about principled aspiration.

But we do need to remind people of the consequences of voting No. Politics at the Westminster level is metropolitan-centred coupled with a desire to be important on the world stage. Scotland is regarded as a bore; they don’t want to waste their time on Scottish affairs and are resentful at being pressed into doing so. They are ignorant about what goes on here and as long as they can keep control of oil, keep their military real estate, keep the balance of payments contribution we make, that is as far as their interest goes. There will be a huge sigh of relief if Scotland votes No because they no longer have to pretend to bother. They are not going to waste legislative time on us and they will control our finances. Those of us who went through 1979 – the terrible feeling of anti-climax and then the Thatcher years – know how important that Yes vote is.

One Year to Go: “I want everyone eligible to vote to take that chance…and understand it is ‘their’ referendum”

Alison Balharry is a campaigner in Radical Independence Glasgow Southside

So a year to go and all to play for; we can get a YES vote.

What are my hopes for the next year to make that desire a reality?

I want everyone eligible to vote to take that chance, or at least have that chance, and understand it is ‘their’ referendum, that they are not voting for any particular party but are voting for a Scotland they will have a say in. Start as we mean to go on as it were.

Already we are hearing that the predicted turnout will exceed current levels of participation.

I’ve been looking into the numbers of unregistered voters and where they’re likely to be. Overall there’s about 10% of eligible voters who are not currently on the electoral register.

As would be expected that includes people who are increasingly marginalised; those that have been left behind by mainstream politics. Children in care who will be eligible as 16 year olds need to be made aware of their rights. People with no fixed abode or in temporary accommodation can also register. Then there are people who may feel excluded because of illiteracy, age, isolation, language or a specific disability.

We all need to ensure people who want to register, can register.

Another group that we need to get registered is students. In Edinburgh the overall figure who are not registered is around 16% and that’s because of the high number of students.

Students can register at both their home and term addresses but obviously vote only once. Given the date of the referendum it’s vital for students to be made aware that they can register at their term address. It’s likely, as with other elections, the guidance will allow registration up to 11 days before the vote. The detailed document from the Electoral Commission will be published later this year.

Also I wonder how many people think, that because they’re registered for council tax, it means they’re on the electoral register. It doesn’t.

Do people even know if they’re allowed to register? The referendum isn’t based on the UK General Election rules for eligibility.

It’s reckoned there’s around 120,000 EU nationals in Scotland and only around half of them are currently registered to vote. Perhaps people are not aware they can vote, after all, most of them can’t for a UK wide election.

So for me it’s about inclusion from the beginning. This is about the people who choose to live in Scotland and on the day we each have an equal voice, and after we say YES that’s how I hope we continue.

One Year to Go: “We are having fun, and we are engaging as diverse a group of people as East Kilbride can offer, and we appear to be winning.”

Nicky Patterson is a Radical Independence Campaign activist in East-Kilbride

I joined the Radical Independence Campaign properly before Spring began in 2013, but I suppose in a way I was always a member. I remember vividly reading about the Radical Independence Conference in November 2012 and being super excited about the ideas and prospects being discussed.

For a while I had been avidly following the Nordic Horizons discussions, and long before Salmond announced the referendum I, along with many many others, was calling for radical decentralisation of the power and wealth clamped to the keels of Westminster, Whitehall, and the City.

As a Green socialist I am invigorated by the twin spirits of anarchism and communism: of liberty from centralised bureaucratic authority; and of common stewardship of the soil and collective contributions and distributions for the purposes of happiness and wellbeing.

I have recovered from several suicidal episodes recently as a result of impoverished mental health and have made these above aims, along with and in contribution to my family’s wellbeing, my life’s purpose.

RIC has been a truly inspirational experience so far. For me the spirit of the campaign transcends all before it in recent years. To date I have not directly encountered any of the factionalism so heavily hung around the spindly neck of the British Left for generations, and the mood has been resolutely for progress. I have made literally hundreds of new friends; younger, vibrant campaigners with the passion and hunger I possessed as a younger (I’m only 30 now!) SSP anti-war campaigner; older, more experienced campaigners with a light in their eyes that they tell me hasn’t been so bright since the late 60s.

Yes, there is a sense of collective purpose, of intent… and more importantly of optimism.

As a branch in East Kilbride we have adopted the Ghandian principle of “being the change we wish to see”; and in EK the changes are many. We have set about with a programme of community regeneration: fostering connections old and new between people and their soil, their materials, and their conditions. And in doing so we are able to demonstrate our prototype for the new Scotland – the new society.

At the start of September we launched an annual community festival called the Root N’ Toot where local food and drinks producers, local artisans and crafters, campaigners and thinkers, writers and musicians mix to demonstrate, discuss, trade and engage with each other and with the communities of EK. Through this we were able to infuse the politics of independence from a local as well as an international perspective. It was a great success.

In October we will be launching our Rolls Royce Common Project which seeks to bring the enormous outgoing estate into community ownership. This is the site of the (not nearly famous enough) “Chile Engines” blackening by Rolls Royce workers in solidarity with the victims of Pinochet’s brutal dictatorship. This site for a large part made East Kilbride. Almost every resident has a connection to it and many of the RIC EK members had fathers or grandfathers who served as shop stewards in the factory buildings.

This is the quintessential piece of working class heritage here, in a town which has nothing of real substance to call its own. Rolls Royce made the people and the people made Rolls Royce; the site belongs to them. But naturally the council have already made plans for demolition and development of private housing and other unnecessary superfluities. Our task is set.

In November we are planning to engage with the local Royal British Legion and other veterans’ associations to establish a remembrance festival that remembers not only British service personnel, but the victims of imperialist and fascist wars throughout the world in this recent modern, “enlightened” age.

And our programme continues off into the distance. We are having fun, and we are engaging as diverse a group of people as East Kilbride can offer, and we appear to be winning. We are positive that not only are we increasing the Yes vote, we are increasing the enthusiastic Yes vote, which we hope will prove to be as infectious as we have found it ourselves.

We are optimistic that our endeavours will establish new traditions of collective participation, of community engagement, and of active campaigning in East Kilbride.

We are therefore optimistic that we can change our society from the bottom up. Properly: with people and their ideas, and without incumbent structures and toxic powerbase hangovers.

Yes, with one year to go we are exhausted already! But it is that excited exhaustion that wakes us up early in the morning with our ideas and the giggles they bring: it is the satisfaction of having achieved something, and having yet other things to achieve, within reach.

Time is flying by.

One Year to Go: “Our role is to help people realise what is possible – once we have the freedom to make it happen.”

Sarah Glynn is an architect and academic with a particular interest in housing. She is active in Radical Independence Dundee.

I support Scottish independence because it provides the most realistic possibility – probably the only possibility – of achieving a fairer more equal Scotland in my lifetime. Of course poverty and inequality won’t disappear overnight – though the remains of our welfare state would be immediately preserved from the wrecking ball that was set in motion by Labour and speeded up by the Tories. However, without independence and control over our own economy and our own tax and benefits systems, we don’t have the option of making Scotland a better place.

Fairness and equality is the most important message of the YES campaign, but mainstream politicians are too busy trying to appease people of all political views to set out an alternative agenda that can explain how these fine sounding words can be made a reality. That is where Radical Independence comes in. We need to show – with the help of examples and of work done by organisations such as the Jimmy Reid Foundation with their Common Weal project – how this can be done. We need to help people, who have been worn down by 30 years of neoliberal free-market governments, to see that there is an alternative. We need to move the political agenda on from the limited debates between the mainstream parties, to question what it is we want to achieve; and so move beyond the narrow focus on GDP and look at quality of life – both now and in an environmentally sustainable future.

So – for example – take housing. Although housing policy is already devolved, with social housing given greater importance here than in the rest of the UK, that doesn’t mean that we are free to develop a substantially different approach. Benefits, as we have seen, are still determined by Westminster, as is the tax revenue we are able to spend. Independence would free us from benefit cuts and caps and from the bedroom tax; and it would also free us to take firm measures on tax evasion and avoidance and to stop spending on nuclear weapons and imperialist wars. In addition, it would enable us to institute a more progressive redistributive tax system, raising money from higher taxes on higher incomes to invest in goods for the benefit of society. A truly radical housing policy would focus on creating good homes and communities for people to live in – which means separating housing from financial speculation. At the moment, a person’s life chances can depend on property ownership, but it needn’t be this way. Investment in good quality social housing could ensure that those who didn’t own a home were not financially penalised; while local management and tenant control would avoid the bureaucracies of the past. These are realisable ideas for which there are historical and contemporary examples, especially from the Nordic countries. In 1960s Sweden there was no financial advantage in owning rather than renting a home. In Helsinki today it is often not possible to identify which flats are social homes and which are private, and new housing is integrated with public transport and communal heating. In housing, as in so many other connected areas, we can help people believe that there is a better way of doing things.

Theoretically, this better way could be applied to the whole of the UK, but existing political forces mean that not only is this extremely unlikely to happen, but that inequality in the UK will keep increasing into the near future. In an independent Scotland under SNP rule we would already fare better, but independence would also provide fertile territory for the growth of really radical policies that could make a substantial difference to all our lives, and provide a source of inspiration to the rest of the UK and beyond. Our role is to help people realise what is possible – once we have the freedom to make it happen.

One Year to Go: “What starts as a revelation about the size of meetings may become a revolution in how we run our country.”

Peter McColl is the Rector of Edinburgh University and a member of the Edinburgh Green Party

With one year to go to the referendum, we are in a strange place. On the one hand, there are those who contend that the debate is alienating and boring. On the other, there are propositions like the Jimmy Reid Foundation’s Common Weal Project that get many people excited about Scotland’s potential.

I think Fraser Macdonald described it well when he wrote in his Guardian article that the independence debate had put the fun back into Scottish politics. That is certainly the feeling I’ve had. For the first time we are able to talk about possibilities. We are unrestricted by the rolling agenda of privatisation and cuts that dominates at Westminster.

The year ahead offers us a great deal more possibility to think about how our country could be. And that’s thinking that should appeal to everyone. While those who value the Union may not want to have this debate, it is here. And there’s lots they can contribute. There is a positive case for the United Kingdom, and that is what we need to hear. As figures like Henry McLeish have pointed out the current Better Together campaign is doing nothing to build the case for a better UK, which is what it should be doing.

The turnout at events about independence has been a revelation for many of those who have been involved in political campaigning for the past ten years. With hundreds of people packing halls across the country there is clearly a huge ambition to talk about what Scotland could become. Discussing how Scotland could lead the world in peace-building, how we could have a citizens’ income for all, how we could run our own nationalised post office, how we could benefit from the huge potential in renewable energy is turning people on to politics. What starts as a revelation about the size of meetings may become a revolution in how we run our country.

This tells us a deeper truth about politics – that it is not politics itself but the focus-grouped, corporate politics developed in the 1990s that turns people off. The longer we keep talking about what politics can deliver for us, the more uncomfortable those who are committed first and foremost to corporate politics become. That discomfort is a good thing. For too long our politicians have danced to a tune paid for by big money. Now it is time for them to dance to our tune.

If you care about creating a fair social security system, about how Scotland can live up to its global responsibilities, about how we can create a new economy that pays fair wages and creates worthwhile jobs now is the time to join the debate. We have much to gain in the creation of a new Scotland and a new political settlement on these islands, and so very little to lose. And the greatest gain open to us is a new politics. We must build a politics in which the demands of the people trump those of corporations and the irresponsible rich.

With a year to go we have it all to gain. Let’s work, let’s build, let’s take our politics back.

One Year to Go: “We have to ‘dig where we stand’”

Lucy Brown – Radical Independence Dumfries and Galloway

My main hope is that over the next twelve months we can reinvigorate a debate in our local communities about how we are governed. We need to make the argument for how independence can be a means (rather than an an end) in an ongoing process of reclaiming power.

If we fight for it, independence can signify a departure from the old way of doing things.  By providing a space in which we can imagine another future and articulate an alternative narrative of what “independence” could really mean, the Radical Independence Campaign can continue to challenge the neoliberal dogma which informs policy at both Westminster and Holyrood.  We can say no to austerity and the attacks on our public services, and yes to fighting for a welfare system which looks after its people.

We have to make the case not only for why a more socially and environmentally just Scotland is possible, but how Scottish self-determination is part of an internationalist project and how it could help us fight for a better future for our class, across all borders.

But real participation and engagement needs more than just a “one size fits all” view of our future.  For the Radical Independence Campaign to be meaningful, we have to ‘dig where we stand’ and come together in our local communities and workplaces, talk with each other, and offer real solidarity in the face of problems which will be with us long after the referendum.  So in Dumfries and Galloway, we have been collectively identifying the problems holding our region back – whether it’s unemployment, depopulation or fuel poverty – and arguing how they could be ameliorated by Radical Independence.

We need Radical Independence from exploitative bosses, opaque local authorities, corrupt councillors, self-interested land owners and the corporations that degrade our environment for private gain.  We have to challenge entrenched networks of power at every level they operate by presenting an alternative vision of society whose logic is derived from the needs of people and not profit.

The referendum provides a symbolic anchor for all of these debates.  Our task therefore is to argue not only that ‘Another Scotland is Possible’ – but that it is necessary and, regardless of the outcome of the referendum, it is worth all the fight we have.

One Year To Go: “My generation, and the future generations after me, are relying on YOU.”

Liam Mclaughlan is a school student in Easterhouse, Glasgow and is a Radical Independence Glasgow North-East activist

With one year to go till the biggest decision in Scotland’s history, its important to analyse how the campaign has went so far, and how we will win it when the public go to the ballot on 18th September 2014.

So far, the debate as a whole has been largely flat, boring and at times very off putting. With the barrel load of negativity that we need to endure from our opponents over at ‘Project Fear’, it’s with little surprise this is the case. However, I have been at times very frustrated with how our campaign at Yes is going and the kind of narrative that often reaches the mainstream media. In particular, I have been extremely worried about how our message is failing to reach those who stand to benefit most from independence, the young and most vulnerable who have been and will continue to be neglected by the British political elite.

This debate needs more passion, more urgency and less of the mentality of some who seem hell bent on offering a mini-UK scenario in which not much will change; the poorest in society will continue to be exploited by those at the top, our head of state remains unelected, we continue to remain part of a nuclear alliance and we continue to support imperialist warmongers in their quest to control the Middle East, with the only change being the flag we claim to define us.

Well I am not defined by any flag. I support and campaign for independence based on my view that only through independence can we become a society to be proud of. A society which protects its poorest and most vulnerable, a society built on the values of social justice and equality for all. That’s the kind of Scotland I dream of, one which becomes a beacon of progress to the rest of the UK and the rest of the world to demand the same. This is a vision I am sure is and would be supported by a large percentage of the people of Scotland and a yes vote in 2014 is only the first step on the road to this sort of society. We need the power to take our future into our hands and to escape the austerity agenda being forced upon us by a Government we continually refuse to support.

This dream is undoubtedly impossible if we choose to remain part of the United Kingdom. The path in which this state is determined to lead us down is one I am ashamed to say we allow to happen. The UK is a society which throws the disabled out of their homes for merely having a spare bedroom, criminalises the most vulnerable for being poor, supports and initiates illegal wars which result in the deaths of thousands of innocent civilians and soldiers. A society where the rights of workers and trade unions continue to be attacked and a society which is determined to make the most vulnerable pay for the mistakes of those at the top. We deserve better, and we can have better.

Now is the time for change. I cannot emphasise enough how important this decision next year is. The ONLY way we will come out of the referendum with a victory next year is by offering real social and democratic change. The consequences of losing this vote next year is unthinkable. My generation, and the future generations after me, are relying on YOU. I want to wake up on the 19th September 2014 knowing that I played my part in this first step to a fairer, socially progressive Scotland, not waking up feeling we missed the chance of a lifetime.

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