It’s a month since Scotland voted to remain part of the United Kingdom. A bitter blow for all of us who had dreamt of a new beginning and the prospect of building a more equal society. The independence referendum was lost, not because of vote-rigging, but through the relentless threats and intimidation from a British establishment which, in the final ten days, threw everthing but the army at the bouyant Yes movement which was so briefly ahead in the polls.
A united front of bankers and big business wielded the batons and sticks while unionist politicians offered the carrot of “more powers” utilising an ever-compliant media to spread their hyperbolic propaganda.
In these conditions it is remarkable that as many as 45% of voters resisted and stood up to the British Bull(y)dog. In Dundee of course, we can be proud that 57% voted Yes, with the best results coming in areas that had been thoroughly canvassed by Radical Indy ‘s dedicated team of volunteers. RIC offered a vision of a better, fairer country and people responded by registering to vote, often for the first time, and in places such as Kirkton and Charleston, up to 75% of people voted Yes.
Another Scotland Is Still Possible, but we must now take every single opportunity to win that other Scotland. It can only be built by our own hands. Part of this is voting for election candidates commited to autonomy and equality. Over the next few weeks forms will be sent to all those currently on the electoral roll. More information on this can be found at http://www.dundeecity.gov.uk/electoralregistration. Please re-register to vote. Use your vote wisely. But it is only a part of our campaign: a tactic in the wider campaign for popular democracy and community power.
We must start to build the type of society we want ourselves. The current growth in support for foodbanks is an expression of this desire among many in the Yes movement. But foodbacks are charity. A vital lifeline for far too many people but they can never be a solution. They are an indictment of the new economic order which prioritises the wealth of the few over the needs of the many.
The newly established Dundee Food Co-op on the other hand, does provide a progressive response to the iniquities of capitalism through collective self-help, reducing dependence on the multi-nationals’ processed products and building alternative economic networks through buying (and producing?) local, nutritious, food. The food co-op builds on the model adopted by local charity Soul Garden, which grows food and runs an occasional ‘lunchbox’ at Dudhope Community Centre. But it’s not just food production and supply that can be opened up to popular community control.
Energy too offers the potential for co-operative ownership of small-scale production as well as a potential local energy buying co-ops. This model could, through collective purchasing, reduce bills and was a campaign plank of Ken Livingstone in the last Mayoral elections in London. Partnerships, with local government, housing associations would be required if this was to work but with www.solarcitiesscotland.org.uk already working in Dundee, the potential is there to reduce our appalling levels of fuel poverty.
Get involved in community activities, go along to community council meetings and if there isn’t one in your area – start one. http://www.dundeecity.gov.uk/communities/communitycouncils. The community empowerment bill http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/People/engage could mark a significant shift by making the primary role for government and the public sector a supportive one – enabling community empowerment but not directing or controlling it.
Strategies for gaining independence abound with the most realistic probably that outlined by Robin McAlpine of Commonweal although this, and other strategies, depend on the dispirate forces within the Yes movement working together to achieve a common goal. http://bellacaledonia.org.uk/2014/10/01/a-way-forward/
For now Radical Indy in Dundee will continue to engage at the grassroots while trying to influence political decision-making by, for example, responding to the Smith Commission. The unionist parties and the Westminster establishment must listen to our voices and deliver on their promises or face a huge backlash from the people of Scotland at future elections.