Radical independence campaigners seek 'a new vision of Scotland'

By staff writers
24 Nov 2012

Scottish independence is not a go-it-alone creed, but a call for a new, collaborative society, speakers at today's Radical Independence conference have said.

Speaking to around 800 participants at the sold-out gathering in Glasgow on Saturday 24 November 2012, Green Party MSP and co-convenor said that the 'Yes' campaign for the 2014 referendum on self-government needed to offer a vision of a transformed society, not a Scottish version of the UK status quo.

He emphasised a green, non-nuclear future with a strong commitment to local democracy, economic justice and social equality.

"I don't want to replace a centralised UK with a centralised Scotland," Harvie declared to loud applause, challenging what he called "the tyranny of largeness".

"Independence can help us turn our energy revolution into one that is for the common good," he added, saying that Scotland needed to seize the country's energy resources in order to transition to a non-carbon future.

At present, he reminded the conference, remewables are in the hands of multinational corporations. "The opportunity to transform our energy economy is the opportunity to transform the ownership of it," said Harvie.

Economically and financially, the UK is "structurally and culturally incapable" of real banking reform, beholden to the City of London, he said.

If the 'Yes' movement can show how an independent Scotland could offer a new path away from the domination of reactionary, neoliberal policies it can win, the Green MSP argued.

Other speakers at the day conference warmed to accompanying, visionary themes.

"We need to unite for equality, because this government is dividing us," declared disability right campaigner Susan Archibald.

"People like me will only vote 'Yes' if we show it will benefit the most vulnerable," she declared, joining parliamentary researcher Nathan Sparling in articulating a powerful case for social justice.

"independence means change, to allow Scotland's people to set the agenda," he told the meeting.

"Independence isn't a competition between the Saltire and the Union Jack. It's about what kind of society we want," said trade unionist Kat Boyd.

"Let's have a Scotland for the millions, not for the millionaires," she continued, in the first of several references to Donald Trump and other "wealthy interlopers" in Scotland's future.

Independent MSP Dennis Canavan, meanwhile, stressed that internationalism not nationalism needed to be the keynote of the 'Yes' campaign.

Independence is not an end in itself, but a means to the end of a better, more just society, he added.

Canavan received a huge cheer when he told the Radical Independence Conference that the Crown Estates, who currently own tracts of Scotland, should be "the People's Estates".

The veteran parliamentarian also said that the House of Commons in Westminster was "not fit for purpose" as a governing body for the Scottish people.

"We are power! ... Let's take this power and build a better future for our Scottish society," declared Peter McColl from Bright Green Scotland.

Meanwhile, Jean Urquhart MSP, who along with John Finnie MSP - unable to attend due to being unwell - had left the SNP over its recent vote to stay in NATO, stressed that the independence debate and referendum would not be possible without the Scottish National Party and Alex Salmond.

But she also said that there were different outlooks within the SNP and beyond on Scotland's future.

The overall tenor of the morning was to stress the need for 'Yes' unity among radical visionaries of different stripes and colours.

Representatives and member of a swathe of different bodies - from SNP members, Greens, independents and socialists, through to Labour and trades unionists for independence, along with progressive civic, peace and faith groups, are gathering under the 'Radical Independence' banner.

The conference breaks into a series of workshops in the afternoon, before gathering again in plenary to consider the future of the 'Yes' movement and ways of putting visionary, practical alternatives at the centre of the 2014 referendum debate.

"A group of activists, intellectuals, and representatives from across the progressive movement have united to build an extra-parliamentary conference in support of Scottish independence," RIC decalred in te build-up to the event, which sold out on 23 November.

"The aim of this conference will be to maximise grassroots involvement, which is the key to winning public support for independence in the run-up to the referendum in 2014."

* Follow the conference on Twitter via the hashtag #ric2012

* Radical Independence conference and movement: http://radicalindependence.org/

* More on Scottish independence from Ekklesia: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/scottishindependence

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