“The whole conference was a positive experience. It inspired me to get out there and engage with friends and strangers, and encourage them to vote YES!” Andrew Thompson writes about his impressions of the Radical Independence Conference 2013.
I have never been a member of a political party, nor have I ever been to any kind of political conference, although I have wanted independence for Scotland for as long as I have been interested in politics. I had not previously been involved with RIC Dundee. Through my work I meet the most vulnerable people in Dundee on a daily basis. It genuinely concerns me that people living in such a rich country can’t afford to feed themselves or heat their homes.
Having given up on mainstream media due to its pro-union bias, I get most of my information online and through social media. Through twitter I became aware of the Radical Independence movement and decided to go to conference on 23rd November 2013. I was hoping to get some new ideas and facts to take back and discuss with friends and colleagues, many of whom are as yet undecided.
The experience was one that would be alien to unionists. There was no negativity, no emphasis on criticising the opposition. The conference was full of optimism and enthusiasm. I spoke to people young and old, some local, some from places I had never heard of. What we all had in common was the overwhelming desire to make Scotland an independent country, where people are not persecuted and criminalised because they are poor or have a disability.
I found myself agreeing with the speakers in the plenaries, particularly Colin Fox and Aamer Anwar, the latter’s comments on the abolition of the monarchy receiving thunderous applause! There was great discussion in the Neo-Liberalism and finance workshop with Gerry Hassan, David Millar et al. I was most looking forward to the afternoon workshop in relation to the democratic deficit in working class communities. This is because I encounter so much apathy when I meet people who think their vote won’t count, or that there is no difference between the people they could vote for. I believe we need to engage with this group of people, give them the facts that they won’t get in mainstream media, and encourage them to vote. I wasn’t disappointed. I was encouraged to get out and show these people that their vote would count in an independent Scotland. Zara Kitson talking about the female vote also made me think.
I enjoyed hearing Robin McAlpine close with eloquence and humour about independence and the common weal, and it all made perfect sense. But I have to say that the youngest speakers stole the show. Who could fail to be inspired by Saffron Dickson and Liam McLaughlan? These people are our future and it’s up to us to give them the chance to lead our country out of the stagnation it faces in the UK. The whole conference was a positive experience. It inspired me to get out there and engage with friends and strangers, and encourage them to vote YES! That inspiration came from one thousand people in a room who will fight for the same cause. Imagine what we could do with entire communities fighting for it?