Radical independence: rediscovering hope

I gave this speech at a Visions of Independence event on behalf of the Radical Independence Campaign

The Radical independence campaign was set up in 2012 with a fairly large and disparate group of lefties – greens, socialists, swappies, trade unionists, and folk on the left of Scottish politics who felt there was no one articulating a vision for the kind of Scotland they wanted to see.

It was a group of people who were fairly convinced that independence was the right way forward for our country but that the over riding policies and messages of the Scottish government weren’t doing justice to the full spectrum of possibilities opened up by independence.

The focus on making us all wealthier and attracting businesses to Scotland with lower taxes was at odds with what many on the left saw as the real prize of independence – a fairer, more equal society.

Of course we have an awful lot in common with the Yes campaign and there are loads of aspects of the Scottish government’s white paper which we would agree with. But part of the reason for our existence as a campaign is to set out an alternative vision – that another Scotland is possible.

A Scotland that rejects austerity and the vile rhetoric of scroungers and skivers, but which advocates for genuine social security with dignity and solidarity with each other. As a green within RIC, I advocate for a citizens income – something which more and more people including Common Weal support. To pay for this, we must have progressive taxation of the richest individuals and corporations and ensure they cannot get away with the horrendous growth in wealth in parallel with the food bank despair and poverty we see today. Lowering corporation tax goes against all that, and we disagree strongly with the SNP.

Another Scotland is possible where power doesn’t just lie with politicians but with the people. With independence we cannot allow power to simply transfer from Westminster to Holyrood and stay there. Real democracy, in local communities and in our institutions and industries is the means by which we can truly call ourselves a self-determining nation. In our book, monarchy and all that goes with it from the crown estates to tax free palaces has no place in that new Scotland.

And another Scotland is possible where we don’t simply rely on depleting reserves of polluting, climate changing oil to fund a growth in wealth. There’s a recognition within RIC that we must move towards a greener, more sustainable energy policy and avoid simply becoming another nation reliant on fossil fuels to keep it’s head above water.

So that’s some of the areas where we might differ from the white paper. But more importantly of course, we stand side by side in our opposition to the status quo and the No campaign. There’s a lovely part of the radical independence declaration which you can find online, which sets out our feelings on the no camp…

For 30 years we have waited for Britain’s rulers to live up to our hopes. They either didn’t notice or didn’t care.

But now they notice. Now they see the chance for working men and working women to take back a nation. Now they tremble at the thought that we might really do it.

Because what drives NO forward is the fear of those who stand to lose their privilege. They fear their kingdom of greed faces its demise. They fear real democracy. They fear that in a land beyond Westminster we will rediscover hope.

So how do we rediscover hope? Well I think a large part of shifting a nation’s feelings from fear to hope is about giving people power and the chance to be part of shaping a new nation. Ric exists as a collection of local branches across Scotland. In Edinburgh alone we have around 2000 folk who’ve declared their support for the campaign and many of them are getting more and more involved in shaping that new nation.

About every three weeks we go out doing a mass canvas of an area, talking with people, but importantly listening to them, their fears and hopes for Scotland and the future. For many of the people we meet on the doorstep, that conversation is the first time anyone’s ever asked what they think. That’s an incredibly powerful thing and more and more people are realising that this referendum isn’t about currency or Europe or whether we still get to watch Eastenders. It’s about them – it’s about all of us creating the society we want to live in.

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