On Thursday night in the beautiful St Andrews in the Square Church in Calton, Glasgow, Scottish Socialists for Independence held the launch of the organisation.
It was not as jam-packed as some of the Yes organisation launches with 70 people in attendance but what it lacked in numbers, it made up for in the diversity of the contributions.
Singer and MC, Tom Laurie who was involved in the Restoration of the Church reminded the audience of the struggle there has been to bring Scottish traditional music to the attention of funding bodies like the Scottish Arts Council.
A group of musicians led by fiddle player Jim Daley who played some traditional tunes were followed by Peter McAlister who spoke to the audience of the importance of folk song in political campaigns and sang the Anti-Polaris(pre-Trident) song ‘We are the Glasgow Eskimoes’. Alan Bissett described the ease with which he wrote the long satirical poem ‘Vote Britain’ suggesting a long period of creative gestation of all the aspects of British nationalism which are such a trial for Scottish republicans!
Speakers Martha Wardrop of the Scottish Green Party, Bill Bonnar of the Scottish Socialist Party, Paul Holleran, Scottish Organiser of the NUJ and Bill Ramsay of SNP Trade Union Group made the case for a more democratic, green Scotland with a written constitution ,public ownership of key resources ,involvement of trade unions and a BBC more connected to the news and views of the Scottish people.
Mr Holleran welcomed the £5 million that the BBC was making available to employ journalists and resources for the cover of the Referendum Campaign. He emphasised that the NUJ regarded this as something of a victory after a hard campaign against redundancies and lack of balance in the independence debate coverage.
Bill Ramsay emphasised the widespread support of the Scottish electorate for opposition to Trident, support for the NHS and free education despite the negative reports in opinion polls.
Maggie Lennon of the Bridges Projects for Asylum Seeker and Migrant Communities made a plea for a more nuanced approach to Scottish proposals for immigration legislation. She argued for a specific and clear set of proposals for implementation rather than liberal rhetoric.
Bill Bonnar, SSP Glasgow organiser welcomed the setting up of SSI and spoke about the resurgence of youth membership and vitality to the SSP after its recent difficult period following the breakaway of Solidarity.
Eric Canning, Secretary of the Communist Party of Scotland and Chairman of the SSI explained the background to the setting of the SSI .
He said: “The SSI is a loose association of individual and organisations who support an independent republican Scotland. You can be a member of other parties and be a member of SSI provided that you support our objectives of independence and socialism.
“We believe that there is no such thing as the British Nation. The United Kingdom was made up of the four nations of England, Ireland, Wales and Scotland in 1707.
“The balance of that has become very unequal and Scotland is the linchpin of that uneasy relationship. If we remove Scotland from the Union, we undo the relationship established in 1707 which has been used for war-mongering across the globe, with Scottish soldiers in the thick of it. Then England can re-discover its radical political roots.”
Maggie Chetty, SSI Secretary, thanked everyone for coming and thanked the speakers and performers for their support.
She said: “We will use the proceeds of tonight for publicity and a banner for the Independence demonstration on 21st September, Calton Hill Edinburgh. We hope you will be marching behind the banner.
She added: “We are also planning an event around St Andrew’s Day. So please watch our page on Facebook and keep in touch with our networks.”