Indy Radicals Organise
For supporters of an independent Scottish Republic it might have been tempting just to hide under the covers during the holiday weekend until the wall to wall Jubilee mania ended. Fortunately there was one positive alternative to the deference to the Royals – the first organising meeting of the Radical Independence Conference (RIC).
The RIC, which now has backing from the SSP, both Green MSPs, a swathe of student leaders, trade union officials and cultural figures like Iain Banks and Pat Kane, has the potential to enormously re-energise and inspire the Scottish left. The organising meeting on Saturday 2 June was made up of approximately 100 people – showing just how big the conference itself could be. Commitment to its basic five point programme – commitment to a republic, opposition to all discrimination, a social alternative to austerity, a green Scotland and a country that is internationalist and against war is simple but has the potential to act as the voice of the progressive green and socialist left in the independence campaign. Discussion covered four topics – making the conference as diverse as possible, the format of the conference itself, media work and campaigns.
There was wide agreement that the conference should reflect the diversity in Scotland - unlike the official Yes launchwhich disappointingly was 80 percent male. This discussion also took place when determining the conference format. There was widespread agreement that the conference shouldn’t be dominated by the usual faces, and that no single group must dominate. Media work was also discussed with plans to launch a twitter for the RIC. So far there has been little notice of the RIC bar one article in The Scotsman - ironically from Scottish Thatcherite George Kerevan, who correctly identified the threat to Labour Unionism in Scotland that a pro-indy left could pose. Discussion of conference campaigning covered many aspects – from the need to campaign for 16-17 year olds to have the right to vote, to the understanding that we have a limited amount of time to make the case for independence.
The Radical Independence Conference has the potential to bring together different strands of the left that are independent of any groups or parties. The Scottish Socialist Party can play a role both in the RIC and the official Yes Scotland campaign, with the understanding that the RIC will not attack the official campaign, but can take positions – on Independence, the banks, child poverty, etc - that the official campaign may be unable or unwilling to take. The RIC represents a fresh start for the Scottish left with a prize too big not to take seriously – the breaking of the British state, and the formation of an Independent Scotland that can be influenced and directed by left and progressive ideas far more effectively than the dinosaur UK state.