Yesterday saw the launch of the Radical Independence Conference to be held on 24th November 2012.
This gathering has been eagerly anticipated on the left for a long time. We are going into a remarkable period in Scottish history, one where we have the opportunity to shape the destiny so long denied to us. Finally, after over 300 years we may again determine our own future. This is not an opportunity to be squandered: it is far too important to leave to white men in suits doing horse-trading, the debate cannot be mediated through corporate journalism, and or shaped in corridors where power is already invested. It must resonate the length and breadth of Scotland and directly engage all of our citizens.
It is critical that all sections of the left come together to make our interjection within the independence movement as vocal as possible. This is not only an issue for the left in Scotland, or even the UK, but a critical juncture of international importance. In our hands we have a tool to smash the imperialist, war mongering UK state. A state which covered up decades of colonial abuses and led our young people into an illegal war which killed hundred of thousands. A state which maintains weapons on mass destruction on our shores and displaced Chagos Islanders to make way for an American military base. And a state which has presided over the theft of Scotland’s oil, land and coastline to fund these murderous follies.
We call on all progressive people and organisations to support, attend and participate in a conference to found an extra parliamentary, pro-independence campaign which puts forward a vision for Scotland that is:
Green and environmentally sustainable.
Internationalist and opposed to Trident and war
For a social alternative to austerity and privatisation
A modern republic for real democracy
Committed to equality and opposition to discrimination on grounds of gender, race or sexuality
This campaign belongs to everyone who holds a radical vision of an Independent Scotland. Socialists, environmentalists, trade unionists, youth, anti-poverty campaigners, cultural figures and all individuals who support the aims of this movement are encouraged to get involved.
Opening Statement, Radical Independence Conference
Perhaps I have a biased perspective, but to me the question of Scottish Independence is a no-brainer for all those of left persuasion. But there are two particular groups that I feel a little frustrated with, they are my comrades and I value their opinions, but at the same time its frustrating when the people that you would naturally look to for solidarity are at best “meh” about the struggle that we have engaged in for centuries just as the prize is within grasping distance. I believe they both have much to contribute to the discussions underway, but up until this time have been less than eager to grapple with the issues that we face.
I understand that given Scottish participation in the British Empire and the profits that were made out of that engagement it is difficult to see the struggle in terms of colonialism, but it was always the rich of Scotland that benefited. Yes, jobs and infrastructure were created on the back of third world exploitation, but the working class of Scotland have far more in common with the working class of the third world than with their upper class countrymen, and it is from their hands that we must wrestle back our land and re-create Scotland as a beacon of global justice …and we can only do that if we spend our time fighting those who would exploit us, not bickering with those who share our vision of an equitable global society based on need and not profit.
The Anarchist Movement
After many years of writing off anarchos as mad nutters, since the G8, on through the Hetherington and beyond I have developed a new respect for anarchists. I’ve come to understand that while our tactics and culture may not be the same, our end-goal is near enough identical, and that there is value in their approach. Which is why the main narrative predominent within the anarchist movement towards the question of Scottish National Liberation irks me. I understand entirely the anarchist position of “No borders, No nations”, and how that gives rise to a “plague on both your houses” attitude toward both the nationalist and the unionist positions, but in my opinion that is a naive analysis which does not take into account the wider power structure.
To not support national liberation is de facto to support the continuance of the status quo, to continue to allow the British State to carry on with its agenda unhindered. Scottish independence would effectively end the UK state and in doing so bring about a constitutional crisis. Not just in Scotland, but also in the rest of the UK a space would open to discuss questions such as the monarchy, membership of NATO, ownership of nuclear weapons and our position within the UN, giving the opportunity for radical voices to make themselves heard. I would greatly appreciate the involvement of anarchists in the discussions and debates that we have over independence, they have a great deal to contribute, not least about how to dismantle a Scottish state once we have it.
The English Left
First off, I’d really, really like the English Left to acknowledge that they are the English Left. I always detect a twisted anti-patriotism when the English Left hides behind Britain, as if it is ashamed of England. To abandon English as a national identity to the likes of the EDL is to ignore the struggles of generations of English people who have come from beyond its shores to found the multicultural society it now enjoys. England has a long and proud radical history, and one which should be promoted.
Yes, many organisations work UK-wide, including the trade unions, but that is because they follow the constitutional structure of the UK. In Scotland we have much in common with the English (and Welsh) left – we do, after all, share an island - but we also have much in common with the working class of other parts of Europe and the wider international working class. We have an opportunity here in the North to create something new and progressive which can offer a practical model for English development. It may seem like we are abandoning you to the Tories (sorry about that!) but as the radical force within an independent nation we have far more opportunity to offer comradely solidarity than one operating within a colonial outpost.
I don’t support Scottish Independence because I am a nationalist;
I support Scottish Independence because I am an internationalist.