Last October Alex Salmond stood in front of the SNP conference and talked about an independent Scotland being prosperous and fair. Yesterday on BBC News, with a year to go till the polls open, he has replaced fair with greater equality. Greater equality means resdistribution of wealth in some form, the discussion of which has been virtually taboo in UK politics for some considerable time.
The most recent Yes Scotland leaflet has put levels of inequality on its front page and advocates sharing our wealth more fairly. The shift may appear subtle, but it indicates a convergence of the mainstream Yes campaign with the progressive ideas promoted by Radical Independence.
Make no mistake, it is the influence of RIC over the last year – since the huge turnout at our conference and the emergence of the Commonweal Project – that has shifted the agenda of the Yes campaign towards equality and social justice. We no longer hear the ‘dinna worry – indy means no change’ message, let alone the ‘cut corporation tax’ approach from Yes or the SNP.
This commitment to greater equality can win the referendum. No-one believes that Westminster has any intention of closing the growing gap between the super-rich and the rest of us. And once this commitment has won us the referendum there can be no going back.
The pro-indy political forces in Scotland, SNP, Radical, Green and Socialist must then work together to find the best mechanisms by which this goal can be achieved, and here the Commonweal Project could be vital. No return to the trench warfare of Holyrood will suffice. A new type of inclusive and participative politics has to emerge which puts people not just before profit, but before party too.
The agenda has changed. A new country demands new ideas and we have opened up the space for that discussion. With a year to go, our future lies in our hands. The radical message of hope that RIC presents can and will result in an overwhelming Yes vote next September.