The Point
Last updated: 02 August 2019.

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RISE National Conference - Report

Saturday 5th December saw just under 300 people attend one of the largest conferences of it's type for the Scottish left in many years. The first National Democratic Conference for RISE – Scotland's Left Alliance took place in the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall with much hype around the event, more so as The National carried a front page the day before with Jim Sillars explaining why he will be giving his list vote to RISE.

The days events began with co-founder of the Radial Independence Campaign, Jonathon Shafi, announcing that after only 3 months RISE currently has 300+ members, excluding members of affiliate organisations such as the SSP and RCN. He also explained "Today is not a showcase, it's not for the media. It's for us to work out radical policies for 2016" and some radical motions were passed.

First section of motions debated were that of the structures of the organisation, a section which was facilitated by former SSP MSP Francis Curran. It was passed that all RISE elected MSP's will take a workers wage which is something that the SSP has long advocated, MSP's will also only be able to serve a maximum of 2 consecutive terms. The first real debate took place over a motion moved by Motherwell and Wishaw Circle which looked to see Circles have the autonomy to stand candidates on the candidate section if they so wish. Craig Paterson, a key RISE organiser argued against the motion stating "First Past The Post is an undemocratic system. It gives power to the Tory party and something we should not advocate by standing in it".

One of the most radical motions passed within the Structures section was that there will be plural leadership bodies. Five "Action Teams" (Secretarial, Finance, Media, International, Women) will form the "Leadership". People are elected onto these teams, can be recalled and are held to account by the National Conference. They will also be accountable to the monthly National Assemblies in which delegates from all RISE Circles can attend, delegates from each Circle must be gender balanced. RISE already currently have a Women's Network and a Trade Union Network however motions were passed to see a Youth Network and a LGBTI+ Network.

After a break up for lunch in order to give those at the conference an opportunity to attend the anti-war rally in which Colin Fox spoke, Kevin McVey facilitated the next section on Draft Policy Programme. During this section there was much passed, some of this included a pledge to build 100,000 council homes, put companies handing out zero-hour contracts on a "Shame" list, radical land reform which would see a cap on the amount of land any person or organisation could hold, a Landlord tax, a pledge to oppose all forms of Fracking, scrapping Council Tax in favour of more progressive taxation, policies on anti-racism and immigration, disability rights and care, public ownership, Land Value Tax, minimum wage for apprentices, Living Wage for all carers and much more.

We were joined by a member of the Catalan radical left party (CUP) who stated in their speech "We will work together with RISE for independence and socialism across Europe". Jordan Daly, co-founder of the TIE campaign(Time for Inclusive Education) put forward a motion on stopping the discrimination of LGBTI+ groups when it comes to giving blood, he argued "All blood donations are screened. There is no reason for LGBTI+ people to be banned from donating". This motion was passed along with another which sees RISE officially affiliate to the TIE campaign, this seen the conference break into a loud round of applause yet again.

After a long day of debate and discussion, Pinar Aksu, Colin Fox, Jean Urquhart MSP and Cat Boyd closed out the day. Colin Fox, co-spokesperson of the SSP stated in a impassioned speech "RISE offers working class people opportunities that no one else can.... So proud our parliamentarians will take a workers wage. They will be incorruptible." Pinar Aksu who spent time in Dungavel Detention Centre and has campaigned for it's end ever since said "People should not have to die in the seas around Europe. We should be sending help to Syria, not bombs". She also ended her speech calling for a welcoming, socialist Scotland. Jean Urquhart MSP spoke of the need to make RISE a national movement that reaches people from the Highlands and Islands to the boarders. "We need a radical alliance from the countryside to the towns". The last speaker was another co-founder of the Radical Independence Campaign, Cat Boyd who gave a speech that captured everyone in the room "Our society is ruled by a corporate and political class. We will not stop until we have taken it back for the people... We have got 5 months to win Scotland. We will do it street by street, door by door... Today is a testament to our strength. Let us rise".

At the end of Cat's speech, there was a standing ovation. It may have been directly after the speech but it felt like it was an applause for the whole day and what was achieved, radical policies which genuinely look to put the people first and fight for a more equal Scotland. There is a long way to go for RISE, but the future looks promising.

External links:

Bella Caledonia

Bright Green

George Monbiot

Green Left

Greenpeace

The Jimmy Reid Foundation

Laurie Penny

New Left Project

Newsnet Scotland

Richard Dawkins

Scottish Left Review

Socialist Unity

UK Uncut

Viridis Lumen

Wings Over Scotland

Word Power Books