Jonathan 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
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