Scottish Left Project – The People Demand

blipfoto scotland2_0Jonathan Shafi on the opportunities for a new citizens’ politics. See The People Demand here.

Tens of thousands of ordinary people became active in politics during the long independence campaign. A record number registered to vote, seeing the possibilities and the point of politics for the first time. The resulting Yes movement has become one of the most important political forces in these islands. Together, we dreamed, we learned and we talked of how we could build the society we want. These dreams must not be abandoned. Instead, our diverse nation must find new ways to work together to make them a reality.

There is a need for something truly new and original to be born out of the independence movement that can manifest itself at the ballot box in 2016 and beyond. We do not presume to have all of the answers, but we intend to start a conversation around certain core principles that must be represented in politics once more.

That is why this project is being launched. It will be based on the principles of radical social change: participatory democracy, democratic public ownership, the redistribution of wealth and power from the rich to the poor and full independence from the British state and its monarch.

It will stand for the two spirits of ’45: the vast grassroots movement that inspired 45% of the population to vote Yes for social justice and equality in an independent Scotland; and the year of 1945, when the generation that had defeated fascism created the National Health Service, even while public debt was at its highest ever.

Our process for developing this work will be people led, rooted in dialogue and action. We want to hear what people want from a new politics. We want to have the widest possible discussion about how we can work together to ensure parliament represents the millions not the millionaires.

This is a project that will learn from communities, engage with trade unions and develop from the grassroots. In this, we take our inspiration from the rise of groups like Spain’s Podemos, which has made great progress in creating a citizens’ politics. Forums will be created to discuss how the Scottish Left can present the best possible socialist challenge at the Holyrood elections in 2016, and we will crowdsource policies that truly deliver for working people. This will not happen overnight, but the long-term aim of this project is to change the face of Scottish politics. The Labour party has betrayed us for too long. We need a strategy to replace them for good in the communities they claim to represent.

Bringing power to the Scottish people is at the heart of this programme. Crucially, this project will work to ensure that Scottish politics reflects the diversity of Scottish communities. We demand a citizens’ audit of the debt that is imprisoning our national finances. It must be up to the public to decide which parts are legitimate and which not. Tools such as participatory budgeting will ensure that direct democracy is brought into the heart of how Scotland works.

Scotland needs a new citizens’ politics. The days of a professional political class running our lives are numbered. Hundreds of thousands of citizens in Scotland want radical change and their voices must be heard. Let’s talk, lets act, and lets work together to ensure that at 2016 there is a co-ordinated socialist challenge engrained in the communities and campaigns who are at the forefront of changing Scotland.

Deborah Waters, Labour for Independence
Dr Myrto Tsakatika, Lecturer in European Politics at Glasgow University and co-convenes the Scottish South European Research Network and a member of SYRIZA Scotland
Alan Wylie, Community activist and founder of No2Bedroom tax
Cat Boyd, Author of Scottish Independence: A Feminist Response and a co-founder of the Radical Independence Campaign
Jim Sillars
Emma Stewart, Member of EIS
Ken Ferguson, Editor Scottish Socialist Voice
John Wilson MSP
Fionnlagh O’Fee, Student activist with NUS and Labour for Independence
Jonathon Shafi, A co-founder of the Radical Independence Campaign
Dr Nick McKerrell
Claire Gallagher, Community activist and member of Unite the Union



Categories: Commentary

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22 replies

  1. This sounds great, but, not to sound pedantic – why “the ballot box in 2016”? Why can’t we work to challenge the unionist parties in 2015?

    It’s only by making MPs afraid for their jobs next year that we will get any movement on real powers from Westminster to Holyrood.

    To do that, we need to challenge the rotten burghs that are Labour’s “heartlands”. In fact, exactly the areas that “new voters” live in, and exactly the areas that voted Yes.

    In my opinion, of course!

  2. The SNP should lead the way here and there is a great chance to change the political landscape in Scotland forever.

    Some things are just too important to be left to politicians and Switzerland have come up with a great way to engage people and give them a voice.

    If I was the first minster of Scotland I would hold a press conference and deliver a speech like this.

    ” I would like to reach out to the No voters in Scotland and to all of those Scots who have been been engaged in politics all their lives and in the last few years. I would also like to reach out to those who voted for the first time and the 16 -17 years who have become so engaged in our democracy. We must never go away again, each and everyone one of us need to have a say how our country can become a better place to work, live, and grow old in, with dignity.”

    “The truth is we work for you. You vote for us as you believe we will do what is best for the people of Scotland. The people of Scotland do not work for us. Together, we should strive to deliver a better Scotland for all and not just the few.”

    “Therefore, today I announce that moving forward. Our manifesto will include that this enegagment will continue to move forward for all. Today we reach out to every person in Scotland and we are saying to you that we will give you a voice that you can use to develop our democracy.”

    “I’m delighted to announce that we will be holding more referendum’s in the future in Scotland and these will be in our manifesto. These will not be independence referendum’s although that is still our goal. These will be national referendum’s on a living wage, on more powers to the Scottish parliament, and on wether or not our public services, railways and energy sectors should be moved back into our hands.”

    “So the people of Scotland. I say to you all today, this is what we promise. If you vote for the SNP you will get a chance to use your voice to let us know what you want us to do. You will be asked if you want us to introduce a living wage for all, if you want more powers for Scotland and if you want privatisation stopped and the public utilities put back into our hands.”

    “We want you to stay engaged with politics and we want to continue working for you. So we want you YES and NO voters to tell us what you want us to do. Then we promise as we work for you, to deliver on those promises. Vote for us and you will decide how you want Scotland to work for all and not just the few. We’ll ask you and then we’ll deliver for you.”

    If I was the leader of the SNP this is what I would do. Change the way Scotland is run for ever. Switzerland do this and ask all of their people what changes they want and then deliver. We can do the same.

    Why shouldn’t we be asked about certain issues ? Why shouldn’t we have a say ? There is no better example from around the world than this to keep everybody enegaged in politics.

    Instead of elected people telling us what to do on major issues and us working for them it should be the other way round. They should work for us.

    Each question that is going to be asked to the population should be in manifesto’s. Then when we read the manifesto’s we know exactly what we are voting on and exactly what we are going to be asked in a referendum.

    Is there anybody who thinks.

    a) This is not the right thing to do ?

    b) See and problems with this type of democracy ?

    If the SNP put this in their manifesto and announced it in a fan fare.

    In my view, they would win all elections by a land slide. More importantly, we would get the type of country the majority wanted.

    • The manifesto should read like this:

      We will offer the people of Scotland a say in their democracy. Therefore we promise to ask the people of Scotland the following questions via a national referendum :

      1) Should all workers in Scotland receive a living wage YES/NO

      2) Should Scotland have Home Rule YES/NO

      3) Should the railways and energy companies return to the state YES/NO

      We promise if the result of any of these referendum’s produce a YES vote we will implement the changes within 12 months of coming into power.

    • The Swiss don’t need to wait for permission from their political parties to hold referenda. All you have to do is to collect 50,000 signatures in 100 days. That’s direct democracy.

  3. Swiss voters have already voted on bonuses and executive pay and they are now proposing on voting for an income for all.

    This is a good read :

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-25415501

    I’m convinced it would work in Scotland because the political engagement we now have.

    The manifesto’s would be the litmus test. There would not be numerous referendum questions asked to the public. Only the ones that are in the winning Party’s manifesto.

    When you vote, you know exactly which type of refendum questions you would like asked.

    If the SNP did this it would

    a) Bring the YES/NO voters together

    b) Change the country for all and tackle poverty and inequality

    c) Keep everybody engaged in politics

    d) Push through important policies that they couldn’t do otherwise

    e) Win every election bya landslide moving forward

    What’s not to like ?

    • This is an excellent idea, and it doesn’t really matter who puts it in their manifesto, who announces it. In fact they all could and should!

      • Just to add:

        Derek Henry’s proposal offers a practical way forward for us to be able to effectively act on Jonathan Shafi’s call. It is a clear demand to make of all the political parties to enable us all to stay involved and stay shaping the political process.

  4. This Project aims to Crowd source polices so if all those proposals got a positive majority vote then they would be the polices so join the left project and be part of the change you want to see

    • Great. This seems an excellent way of using the spaces that Commonweal plans to continue opening up, and using the new media spaces such as Bella, to have a focused, collective and open process to strategise the best means for moving forward, as well as the best policies, and to act on them.

  5. 2) Should Scotland have Home Rule YES/NO

    I thought this question had just been asked and answered with a NO ?

  6. Just vote for any of the new parties, SNP, Scottish Greens, SDP etc or better still join, be welcomed and kept in the ‘spirit’ which is growing daily. We’ll get what is needed. The Common Weal is a good idea but too slow, I don’t think we need to reach out now to ‘undecideds’. I feel everyone is relieved that we are all on the same path – even England,Wales and Ireland.
    Austerity a thing of the past and the mean, greedy fascists who have been in government for far too long, left by the roadside stripped and shoddy.

  7. the link disnae work – great stuff from Derek Henry though, it helps to have other countries examples (switzerland) to argue against the predictable ‘it could never work’ brigade.

  8. I applaud attempts to harness the spirit of the yes campaign. I am also wary of the intentions of some groups. I know the labour party are desperate to hold onto power and will do anything to further their interests.
    Yes Scotland have the inspiration, proven ability and the following of a large section of the population. Let’s keep moving forward and not muddy the waters with so many think tanks. Join us,add to the movement and let’s show we are here to stay

  9. Engage with the unions: why? They are part of a Labour movement which led the charge against independence. They fund Labour activities and sponsor Labour MPs. Many Labour MPs are ‘buggin’s turn’ bigwigs from within the unions. They will be Labour’s spy in the camp. I know; I was a shop steward for 10 years and witnessed their cliques within cliques and political manoeuvring; seldom to the benefit of their members.

  10. Excellent article Jonathon. Your thoughts align closely with the sentiments expressed by speakers at the Perth For Independence rally we spoke at on Saturday. These grass roots campaigns are key to building and maintaining our work on the streets, on doorsteps and in halls and community centres throughout Scotland.

    Notwithstanding many thousands will be signing up for Peopledemand.org is there an admin address where people can act today to volunteer time and talent to the project?

  11. Scottish Left Project, The Common Weal, Left Alliance, Scottish Socialist Party……are we seeing the usual fragmenting of the Left ? Will the Scottish Left Project campaign against the SNP, stand in elections against the SNP ? You’re far more politically educated than me I’m sure, so you’ll have considered the possibility of splitting the anti-unionist or pro-Independence support and eventually the vote ?

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