RI Conference Perspectives #2: Facts Are Chiels That Winna Ding

“We are not here to wrap the existing structures in a Saltire, run it up the flagpole and salute it.” Duncan McCabe of Radical Indy Dundee discusses his vision of independence   and the significance of RIC#2 at the Yes Dundee Drop-In cafe event held on Saturday 9th November.

I’ve been doing quite a lot of canvassing recently, knocking on peoples’ doors and discussing the issues that concern them about supporting independence. One of the things I hear again and again is the need for facts. And that’s fair enough. After all, facts are chiels that winna ding – but really there are only two facts that are important in this campaign, and they’re the facts that underpin all the ideas  that are coming out of the Radical Independence movement.

The first fact is that an Independent Scotland would be the 8th richest country in the developed world. Not our figures, not the Yes campaign figures, not the SNP governments figures but those of the OECD. When I tell folk this on the doorstep they tend to look around them and ask “Are you sure, it doesn’t look like it”. And no it doesn’t look like it in many parts of Dundee, Glasgow and so many other places in Scotland.

The reason for that is the second key fact – that the UK is the fourth most unequal country in the developed world and the gap is widening all the time. This growing inequality has been going on for the past 30 or 40 years since the election of Margaret Thatcher in 1979, or slightly longer to the time Labour brought in the IMF a few years earlier. Since then our wealth has been taking a one-way trip, via the City of London or the multinationals, to the tax havens of the world where it joins the $30 trillion dollars that sit there every minute of every day while we face permanent austerity.

There used to be a post-war concensus in politics, not only here but throughout Europe, that saw redistribution of wealth and the creation of social welfare structures as a vital part of a healthy society. But since ’79, we have been told that there is no such thing as society and we all have to be out for ourselves in a rat race with no end. It is this Thatcherite doctrine, continued here under Blair and Brown and now Cameron, that also underpins the neo-liberal globalisation agenda – or more simply Global Thatcherism – a philosophy built on Competition and Conflict.

But these are not our values, and they’re not the values of most ordinary people across the world. Values and ideas are as important as facts, and this referendum is a unique opportunity for us in Scotland to begin to roll back the frontiers of Thatcherism and replace those negative values of Competition and Conflict with our values; of Community, of Co-operation and most fundamentally of all – of Caring: Caring for our  old folk, our young people,  the sick, the disabled, and for our planet and our environment.

I believe that in Scotland we have both the popular and the political will to do this: To take a different direction, a better direction.  Independence opens the door to a new, better, fairer and more equal future.

1421178_596135617114327_1902774254_oIt is here that Radical Independence comes in. We are not here to wrap the existing social and economic structures in a Saltire, run it up the flagpole and salute it. We are here to develop a new concensus  that  actually changes these structures, and by doing so here in Scotland we can send a message of  hope to the rest of the world. It’s time for Scotland to be part of the solution to the world’s problems and not, as we are as part of the UK, a significant cause of those problems.

Last year’s Radical Independence Conference, with its predominance of youthful organisers and participants, was the most enthusiastic and optimistic political event I have ever attended – and I’ve been to a few.  It was a place where people of progressive views of all kinds began to put vision and ideas out into the rather sterile world of mainstream politics.

commonweal logoOne of the most important offshoots of the conference has been the Commonweal Project from the Jimmy Reid Foundation. This project, an initiative largely of Robin McAlpine who was also a key figure in the organisation of the Radical Independence Conference,  seeks to develop that new concensus that Scotland needs following independence,

This project has now been supported by the recent SNP and Scottish Green conferences, and will occupy centre stage at this year’s Radical Independence Conference in Glasgow in a couple of weeks time. A conference whose theme of Failure; Hope; Transformation  will place us firmly on the road, not just to independence, but to a brighter future for all our people.


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