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Another Scotland Is Possible

The Radical Independence Campaign recently held their Highland conference in Inverness and here Donnie Fraser describes how it came about and what a great day it was

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RIC - Another Scotland is Possible

 

We are delighted to present this short article written by RIC Inverness convenor Donnie Fraser describing the recent Radical Independence Campaign's Highland Conference.

 


 

Another Scotland Is Possible

It all started on a cold winter's night at an RIC meeting with only three folk present. Maggie, one of a thousand to have been inspired by the national RIC conference in Glasgow, suggested that "we should have a conference in Inverness", Conor and George agreed, and so it began.

The outcome was last Saturday's RIC Highland Conference - Another Scotland Is Possible. From a meeting that could have been held in the proverbial 'phonebox (with or without the dog), to a gathering of over 200 folk in Inverness for an all-day political conference in the space of a few weeks.

No mean feat I would suggest! Even more so when you consider it wasn't being done under the banner of any one political party but a collection of individuals bound together by a shared belief that independence can help us build a better, fairer, Scotland, not in and of itself, but through the potential that can be unleashed by a Yes vote in September.

Once that acorn was sown the event took on a momentum of its own, planning committee meetings reporting to full RIC meetings – now with 30 in attendance rather than three! Speakers were arranged, a venue was sorted, another committee formed to organise the Céilidh at night and slowly it all started coming together until a late surge to deliver some 5500 leaflets through doors in Inverness.

We didn't know what to expect. Would people turn up? Would the speakers want paid? Would they want trayfulls of green M&Ms? Well I'm happy to say they were all brilliant and gave up their time gladly, just happy to contribute to the wider vision of a radical Scotland. Not just on Independence itself but of issues of interest to the Highlands. Speakers from all parties and none, (well not quite all parties, neither of Westminster's ‘austerity' coalition were represented) SNP, Independents, Greens, Socialists and the non-aligned reflecting the broad progressive movement of which we are part.

But perhaps the best thing wasn't any particular speaker but just the positive vibrant energy that was buzzing about the conference, in fact I'm only aware of one negative comment from someone who complained that the speakers were too "central belt biased".  A criticism I felt unfounded given that if you removed all the speakers with no RIC or Highland connections I think you'd be left with Patrick Harvie and Lesley Riddoch who drew the biggest audiences for their respective workshops!

The day itself was split into four sections with two blocks of workshops being sandwiched by two more traditional opening and closing sessions with speakers on the platform and questions from the audience, though Lesley reversed the roles later on when she was asked what would get young folk more involved – "Well how should I know, let's ask the young folk!"

And that was like much of the humour, whether it was Lesley and John Finnie trading dance-floor suggestions with "Boogie not Bigotry" against "Handbags in the Middle", or from Grace in the audience who listened to Dan Mackie (Labour for Independence) explain how he'd become disillusioned with Labour under the Blair leadership and remarked, "Aye son, I grew disillusioned with Labour as well, but I was 16 and it was the 1940s!"

It obviously wasn't all laughs as speakers made clear their rejection of Westminster party politics, of the greed and corruption, of immigrants and benefit claimants being made scapegoats for the greed of the bankers and of the whole rotten system that leads many to survive on foodbanks while the gap between rich and poor accelerates. Accompanying this was the clear message that September 19 sees the start of the real work to build the Scotland we want to see.

There were too many speakers and contributions to do justice to them all so I'd like to close with a couple of small quotes that best encapsulate the spirit of the day, from Cat Boyd (RIC) who claimed:

"Britain is for the rich. Britain is for the already powerful. For the haves.  We have a chance to make a new nation. A new Scotland. To make Scotland ours."
Cat Boyd

And from Patrick Harvie who declared that:

"This referendum must not be about blaming others, but about taking responsibility for ourselves."
Patrick Harvie MSP

Simple words but with the weight of destiny upon them.

Perhaps the success of the day will be seen in how we capture that energy and translate it into active bodies on the ground in the ongoing struggle to build a different Scotland, a Scotland which puts the interests of its people before the interests of big business and the rich, so perhaps the most encouraging aspect are the plans we now have to launch RIC in Moray and Caithness by those who want to get involved in their own area.

And no report would be complete without reference to the most talked about moment of the day, Alastair McIntosh's wonderful poem The Rising of the Kelpies and its stirring finale:

Scotland's name will be a light  
a healing of the nations –
the day we set off Trident
The day we press red button of dispatch  
each one of us within the polling booth
no cruel explosion but a soft implosion
within the very politics  
they thought this evil would protect

Sent back again, sent back by us
to think again –  
Repent! Repent! Repent!

A! Fredome is a noble thing!  
(we'll hae nae thermonuclear warheads here)
Away! Away! Away! Away!
thus speaks the great Each-uisge on  
its Easter rising day *

* from the forthcoming book, Scotia Nova: Poems for the Early Days of a Better Nation, edited by Alistair Findlay & Tessa Ransford, Luath Press, due June 2014.

Donnie Fraser
RIC Inverness convenor
Email: ricinverness@gmail.com
Twitter: @RICInverness

ATTENTION!

This is an archived copy of the Yes Highland website created prior to the referendum in September 2014.

If you are looking for the current website please go to https://yeshighland.net.

Yes Inverness