Hundreds of people crammed into the Marriott Hotel in Glasgow on August 29 for the launch of RISE – Scotland’s Left Alliance. The new coalition of the left will stand candidates in all eight regional seats in the 2016 Scottish elections.
Scottish Left Project, which launched the new group, said the new group's name reflects its political outlook and organisational make-up.
It said RISE stands for:
• Respect - for a society without racism, sexism, discrimination on the grounds of sexuality and where people of all backgrounds, colours and creeds are treated with respect and dignity.
• Independence - for an independent Scotland based on ending neoliberalism, austerity, NATO membership and for ending the monarchy and putting people in charge.
• Socialism - for a social alternative to capitalism where people run the affairs of our society democratically and where the vast resources of society are utilised in common, rather than for the super-rich.
• Environmentalism – support for placing sustainable ecology, which maximise Scotland's enormous renewable energy potential, at the heart of a radical vision for change.
Scottish Left Project said the growing coalition around RISE contains a broad range of forces and social movements, including anti-austerity campaigns, anti-racist activists, left groups including the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP), trade unionists, cultural figures and academics.
It said RISE was a product of last year's referendum campaign and would seek to develop in the spirit of a grassroots people’s movement.
Colin Fox, an SSP national co-spokesperson, told the August 29 launch that RISE was “the most important left unity project Scotland has seen in a generation.”
Fox cited the formation of the Scottish Socialist Alliance in 1996, the precursor to the SSP, and the resultant success in 1999 and 2003 elections, as an examples of what a united left project could achieve.
The 2003 Scottish elections, in which the SSP won six seats, was also cited by independent member of Scottish parliament Jean Urquhart as an example of the strengths of a “rainbow parliament”. Urquhart said: “There is a substantial empty bench [in Holyrood] waiting for something like this … the [proportional representation] system allows us to do that.”
Fox said: “We have a tremendous opportunity to use the platform the Scottish parliament provides to raise ideas that stick up for working-class people in Scotland after a nine year absence.”
He said that support for Scottish independence within RISE was unwavering. To huge applause, he declared: “Supporting Scotland’s democratic right to self-determination does not make you a nationalist – it makes you a democrat!”
Radical Independence activist Cat Boyd said that any elected RISE parliamentarian would take the average workers' wage, saying: “Politicians must lead the same lives as their constituents, including taking a workers wage, to make them accountable to the people.”
[Visit Scottish Left Project for more information.]