RISE: Scotland's new left alliance to launch

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New political force will launch on August 29

August 24, 2015 -- Scottish Left Project, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- We are pleased to announce the name under which the new coalition of the left being launched on August 29 will stand. Our name -- RISE, Scotland's Left Alliance -- reflects our political outlook and organisational make-up.

Respect: We stand for a society where we end racism, sexism, discrimination on the grounds of sexuality and where people of all backgrounds, colours and creeds are treated with respect and dignity.

Independence: We stand for Independence for Scotland. But our Independence is based on ending neoliberalism, austerity and the membership of NATO. We are for ending the monarchy and putting people in charge.

Socialism: We are 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: We believe that environmentalism must be central to social change. Our world is being destroyed by the ruthless pursuit of profit over everything else. Sustainable ecology - where we maximise our enormous renewable energy potential to power Scotland -- at the heart of a radical vision for change.

The Scottish Left Project -- the process of dialogue and discussion through which RISE has come together -- will host the launch event on the 29th. This launch and the growing coalition around it contains a broad range of forces and social movements including anti-austerity campaigns, anti-racist activists, left organisations including the Scottish Socialist Party, trade unionists, cultural figures and academics. This provides a grassroots basis with national reach for building organisational infrastructure that will develop a mass campaign.

This is a product of the Scottish independence referendum and will develop in the spirit of a grassroots people's movement. RISE will bring a radical policy platform in to the political debate in 2016. This is being developed democratically through open policy forums of which there have already been over 30 all over Scotland in the run up to the 29th.

On August 29, hundreds of people will travel from all over Scotland to support the launch and take part in workshops. The range of speakers makes this a unique political movement in the Scottish context.

See Full timetable here

On that day people will be able to join RISE, Scotland's Left Alliance and take part in a democratic process of policy making from the ground up including the setting up of local groups and engaging a campaign of mass outreach. We will also hold a democratic policy conference to agree our platform and structures.

Hundreds of people have booked their place to attend and take part in the range of participatory workshops and plenaries. We hope you will join us too, as collectively we start the process of developing a genuinely grassroots people's campaign for Holyrood focused on the regional lists.

See the Sunday Herald article on RISE below.

Revealed: new Scottish left party named as RISE

Exclusive by Tom Gordon

Sunday, August 23, 2015 -- Scotland’s new left-wing electoral alliance is to be called RISE, the Sunday Herald can reveal.

The grassroots anti-austerity movement, anchored around the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) and the Scottish Left Project (SLP), has been taking shape over the last eight months under the nickname the Scottish Syriza.

However it will be be formally launched as RISE, which stands for Respect, Independence, Socialism and Environmentalism, in Glasgow next Saturday [August 29, 2015].

Up to 1000 activists are expected to attend the Marriott Hotel for the event, which will include more than 30 speakers and examine policies for next May’s Holyrood election.

Among those taking part will be representatives from Syriza, Spain’s Podemos movement, Quebec Solidaire and Black Lives Matter, plus independent MSP Jean Urquhart, German MP Andrej Hunko of the Left party Die Linke, and Mike Small, founder of the Bella Caledonia blog.

There will also be a message of support from veteran journalist Tariq Ali.

Describing itself as “Scotland’s Left Alliance”, RISE will field candidates exclusively on regional lists, from which MSPs can be elected with as little as 5.2 per cent of the vote.

As part of an electoral pact to maximise the chance of socialist MSPs being elected, the SSP will refrain from standing candidates, giving RISE a clear run.

The umbrella model is based on Syriza in Greece, which was formed in 2004 as a coalition of 13 radical groups, including Maoists, Trotskyists, feminists and environmentalists.

The Respect element of RISE refers to equalities -- it has no links to George Galloway’s party.

The new name, with its whiff of revolution, is intended to catch the attention of voters drawn to the left in response to the Tory government, but who doubt the commitment of Scottish Labour and the Scottish National Party to radical change.

SSP co-convenor Colin Fox, who hopes to be a RISE candidate, said even if Jeremy Corbyn became the next UK Labour leader it would not fundamentally change the party.

“I fully expect Labour’s existential crisis to deepen whether Jeremy Corbyn wins or not. He does not support independence or further powers for the Scottish Parliament. That offers very little to attract the progressive left opinion that’s gathered round the SLP.

“If Corbyn becomes leader he’ll also be a prisoner of the right wing of Labour from day one. They’re already orchestrating a coup against him.

“We’ll be looking to take the fight to the SNP. Nicola Sturgeon says they’re against austerity and privatisation, but they have a different track record. The SNP is no place for a socialist.”

Trade union activist Cat Boyd said: “We want ordinary people in Scotland to have a voice against the onslaught of austerity, against the erosion of our trade union rights and against the unchallenged privileged and power of the few who think they have the absolute right to rule.”

Playwright Alan Bissett said he was "really excited" about RISE, adding: "The left had been struggling until the injection of energy and momentum from the referendum, when working-class and young people started to engage with politics. A pro-Yes voice, to the left of the SNP and Scottish Labour and committed to the working-class, should be a prerequisite of our parliament.”

Refugee rights campaigner Pinar Aksu added: “This fresh approach will provide a voice that will put people at the forefront, not the corporate interests which dominate our society.”

RISE organiser Jonathan Shafi, who also co-founded the Radical Independence Campaign in the referendum, rejected the suggestion that Syriza’s current problems and splits showed the Left’s high hopes in Scotland were doomed.

“Greece actually underlines the need for similar left movements to develop in northern Europe to provide support to other governments of the radical left - to prevent them being isolated.”

Tory MSP Murdo Fraser said: “Presumably this leftist movement hopes to have slightly better longevity than Syriza, which U-turned on its anti-austerity platform and is now collapsing into typical infighting. But one wonders how long before RISE becomes FALL?”

The advent of RISE means unprecedented competition for Holyrood’s 56 list places, as the strength of the SNP means Labour, the Tories, LibDems and Scottish Greens are now all reliant on the list system for MSPs. Convicted perjurer Tommy Sheridan is also standing for Solidarity in Glasgow.