Routes to Independence: Roots of Change
Duncan McCabe looks ahead to #RIC2016 which takes place later this month.
The strength of the Yes campaign lay in its diverse character, emerging from the grassroots to shake the UK state to its foundations. This was not a one party campaign, directed by strategists and dominated by party cadres, but a genuinely popular movement which set its own agenda and sought independence as a necessary step in building a more equal society.
Since those heady days however, the pro-indy movement has been pushed back into party politics with the SNP the beneficiaries of all the hard work done in 2014. The assumption within the SNP has always been that their party, and their party alone, is the vehicle for the achievement of Scottish Independence and all other political opinions should be sacrificed to this end.
Their apparent massive electoral support is the result of this assumption becoming manifest among many Yes voters, but many of those who voted SNP last May did so through gritted teeth and since then that party’s 56 MP’s have produced no significant gains for the people of Scotland.
The substitution of the SNP hegemony over the previous Labour version is not real progress in the struggle for autonomy or equality. Lacking any clear road-map to Indy they are failing their own supporters, especially those who joined the party following the referendum.
The Radical Independence Conference 2016 seeks to fill this vacuum of ideas by allowing key figures from the wider Yes movement a space to outline a variety of Routes to Independence in its key opening session, as well as in a more participative workshop setting. Jim Sillars, Cat Boyd, Robin McAlpine, Maggie Chapman and others will offer different options for a renewed independence movement which rises above the tribalism of party politics.
We need only look to the strength of the grassroots non-party movement for independence in Catalunya to realise how important it is not to have our cause linked to one party alone. Independence is not in the ownership of any party but in the collective ownership of the people. There is not one route to independence, rather there are 5.3 million routes to independence just as all 5.3 million of us have to become the roots of change.
For RIC as an organisation, the conference also emphasises its role of connecting activists across a range of campaigns. According to conference organiser Myshele Haywood,
“Politics is about more than parties. RIC is a place for people to unite around shared values, no matter which rosette they wear during election season. Our diversity makes RIC fertile ground for discussion and exploration.”
The annual Radical Independence Conference will be held on Saturday 20 February, at the Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh.