As Scotland heads into the final 12 months before referendum day, momentum is gathering for this year’s Radical Independence Conference.
This Saturday, 23rd November, a broad range of organisations and individuals will discuss and plan a blueprint to transform Scotland after independence, as well as workshops on how those in favour of yes can build a campaign that can win on September 18th, 2014.
The left-wing campaign, launched at a breakthrough conference of over 900 people last November, has been endorsed by politicians, campaigners, trade-unionists and high-profile musicians including Stuart Braithwaite of Mogwai and Charlie and Craig Reid of The Proclaimers.
This year’s event comes three days before the Scottish Government unveils its Independence White Paper which will add to the excitement.
Independent MSP Jean Urquhart said: “Last year RIC established its place in politics in Glasgow, and one year on, the movement is nationwide. The biggest challenges this year are to engage with voters from Shetland to the Borders, especially those who do not vote or are not registered to vote.
“I believe that the radical message passionately delivered by Radical Independence will be key to empowering those in Scotland who feel disenchanted or powerless by politics as usual.”
Patrick Harvie put the conference in international context: “Around the world all countries are facing unprecedented social, economic and ecological challenges. Scotland has the opportunity next year not just to wave flags and talk about national identity, but to accept responsibility for these challenges and take our society and our economy in a new direction.
“The Radical Independence Campaign has the chance to connect with people by articulating the need for that transformational change, and how it will benefit people across Scotland.”
The Radical Independence Campaign has also attracted support from civic and cultural figures who will be attending the conference in numbers. Keen to promote inclusion, the gathering will welcome everyone in the progressive movement to share ideas and inspire one another.
Isobel Lindsay of Scottish CND said: “Most of the Left in Scotland are now pro-independence and have increasing confidence and ambition. Last year’s RIC was an important contribution to this. This year’s conference will give us the vision and political energy to take back into our local communities.”
Yes Scotland member Dennis Canavan said the movement was a chance to bring some progressive thinking to the independence debate, and said: “Independence is a great opportunity for radical change and this Conference is a great opportunity to to help shape Scotland’s future.”
The Proclaimers, long-standing proponents of independence have also endorsed the conference: “Best wishes to the Radical Independence Conference 2013. We are life long supporters of Scottish independence, who want to see an independent nation, where the resources are used to the benefit of all people, not just big business.”
Guitarist Stuart Braithwaite of Mogwai johighlighted the event’s potential: “The Radical Independence Conference is an important event and will play a vital part in shaping a fairer independent Scotland.” he said.
Poet Alan Bisset added: “The Radical Independence Conference is where the most exciting ideas about Scotland’s future are being discussed.
“We’re at a crucial point in our nation’s history, and it’s important that the full range of possibilities for Scotland’s working class and other disempowered communities are given prominence and energy. This conference is that place. It could really change things.”
Trade union members will also be in attendance, as the austerity measures implemented by Westminster come in to sharp focus. Sarah Collins, the Chair of the STUC Youth Committee said: “This conference gives trade union members a chance to debate and discuss how we can build an independent Scotland that puts workers and welfare first.”
Organisers have said they want this to be a pivotal moment in the campaign for independence and a launch pad into 2014 that will place a radical policy platform at the heart of the debate.
Peter McColl, Edinburgh Uni rector is looking for this years conference to continue the work of building a radical social movement: “The Radical Independence Conference in 2012 was the highlight of the political year for everyone who attended.
“The energy in the room, the size of the audience and the commitment to new, fresh debate about the potential for a new Scotland was the most exciting political event I’ve ever attended. The Conference in 2013 will be vital to building the popular movement we need to win a new, radical Scotland.”
Shona McCalpine, a member of Women for Independence said: “We want to get as many women as men to the conference this year. Our job is to get women to see that their best chance is with a Scottish Government – they need good public services and fair benefits and they’re not going to get that with British Governments whether Tory or New Labour.”
As well as groups mobilising from all over Scotland, there is international interest in the campaign. Benoit Renaud of Quebec Soidaire who spoke at RIC 2012 highlighted the international dynamic at the heart of an independent Scotland:
“The Radical Independence Conference is the place to go if you want to prove that another Scotland is possible. It’s where people make scottish independence matter for peace, ecology and social justice.”
Developing links with the Catalonian left, the left-wing pro independence Pupular Unity Candidates will be sending a delegation. Quim Arrufat, and MP in the Catalonian parliament said, “At a time of economic crisis and austerity, independence must be connected with social justice. We look forward to building links with the Radical Independence Campaign.”
Find out more at http://radicalindependence.org.