Defend trans rights and Scottish democracy!

This week, the UK government announced that it will use its veto powers for the first time ever to prevent Scotland’s progressive new gender recognition legislation, approved by a super-majority of MSPs from every political party in the Scottish Parliament, from being signed into law.

Independence supporters and LGBT+ activists are coming together across Scotland to protest this outrageous attack on Scottish democracy.

  • In Edinburgh, a demo co-organised by the LGBT+ wings of most Scottish political parties will take place outside Queen Elizabeth House — the UK government’s Scottish HQ — on Thursday 19th January, 1.30pm.
  • In Glasgow, a demo organised by local LGBT+ activists is taking place at Buchanan Steps on Saturday 21st January, 11am.
  • In Aberdeen, a demo organised by LGBT+ and student activists is taking place at the Mercat Cross, Castlegate on Thursday 19th January, 1pm.

Let’s make these demonstrations as big and inclusive as possible, and show Rishi Sunak and Alister Jack that Scotland won’t simply roll over accept such a blatant attack on our sovereign right to make our own laws.

RIC statement on Supreme Court ruling

This is a dark day for democracy and signals clearly the rotten, undemocratic nature of our broken, union state.

The unelected judges of the UK Supreme Court are saying that the Scottish Parliament is permanently vassalled to Westminster and its undemocratic parliament, government and state — that the democratic rights of the Scottish people do not matter and can be ignored.

The court is saying that a parish or district council in England has the right to call a referendum on any issue, but what was claimed to be the “most powerful devolved parliament in the world” cannot.

The collaboration of both the UK government and the official opposition in thwarting democracy needs to be answered with a rising tide of protest by the Scottish people, starting at the 15 rallies called in Scotland today.

If the UK government refuses to now give the referendum a legal basis and continues to try to thwart the Parliament, we call for massive and escalating protests across Scotland against this denial of democracy.

Let the People Decide — not the judges!

The UK now has a prime minister and a head of state who are not prepared to subject themselves to a democratic vote, yet deny the people of Scotland their democratic rights.

The UK government’s refusal to countenance democracy also has a profound impact on rights not just in Scotland but across all parts of the UK state — especially for the people of Cymru/Wales and of Ireland in determining their own future.

When governments reject democracy, it is time for the people to rise up and say: enough is enough!

The UK government is not only denying democracy by the Scottish people, but for all the citizens of the UK state in refusing to put its austerity plans and wage restraint to a vote in an election.

We therefore also call for full support for the battles of the people to win decent pay awards through strike action over the coming months and call for defence of public services against all cuts.

Make the rich companies and individuals who have benefited from profiteering from the crisis pay for it, not force ordinary people to choose between eating and heating over this winter!

RIC will support a campaign of mass direct action — strikes, protests, rallies, civil disobedience — against this rotten undemocratic Tory government.

We call on the Scottish Government and the Westminster opposition to support such protests.

We welcome the SNP’s backing for protest rallies in Scotland this evening over the Supreme Court, but also call on them to support the massive strikes voted for by workers that are due in Scotland over the coming weeks and months and to secure the resources to pay workers the inflation-related pay award they deserve.

Furthermore, following the dreadful rolling back at COP27 of international commitments on climate change and 1.5 degrees from the Glasgow COP last year, we call for an end to all new exploration licenses for fossil fuels in the North Sea, and for massive public investment in renewables, funding for a just transition for workers and for a massive publicly-funded programme of home insulation and other reduction measures on energy instead. We support direct action to achieve these goals.

Calls for the Scottish Government to press on with a non-sanctioned referendum in light of today’s ruling are inarguably complicated by the necessary role of local authorities in organising the voting process, which could not be guaranteed in those circumstances.

Similarly, the SNP’s suggestion that the next UK general election could be used as a proxy referendum may falter in a cost of living crisis and would certainly undermine the broad, non-partisan coalition of the grassroots independence movement — as well as putting us up against the troubling introduction of voter ID for Westminster elections.

It is now time for a mass independence movement to mount the most effective challenge possible to the present Conservative UK government, not just on its undemocratic blocking of an independence referendum but also on its right-wing economic policies and their devastating impact on Scotland’s people, which need to be opposed in the here and now not just in the future.

November 2022 National Forum

The UK Supreme Court has announced that it will hand down its ruling in the indyref2 case next Wednesday 23rd November.

This is a critical moment for the independence movement, as it will establish whether the Scottish Government’s plan for an advisory referendum next October is tenable or whether we have to go back to the drawing board.

We’ll have the opportunity to discuss this at the Radical Independence Campaign’s National Forum, which is taking place on a hybrid basis in Dundee this Saturday 19th November from 1pm to 3pm.

This is our national decision-making meeting, open to all RIC members and supporters. Participants can attend in person at Conroy’s Basement, 51-53 Meadowside, Dundee or through Zoom.

For the full agenda, supporting documents and Zoom details, please email: contact@ric.scot

Let The People Decide!

The Radical Independence Campaign is calling on Scottish independence supporters — and our allies in the Irish and Welsh national movements — to gather outside the UK Supreme Court in London as it begins hearing the indyref2 case on Tuesday 11th October.

The United Kingdom declares before the world that it is a democracy and respects and defends democratic rights. We challenge this.

The Scottish movement for self-determination, of which we are part, is a movement for the development and expansion of democracy in which the people living in Scotland decide the nature of our government and our relationship with the other people of these islands.

As part of this we wish to organise, amongst ourselves, a referendum to determine whether or not we wish to remain part of the United Kingdom. This is our democratic right.

The United Kingdom currently boasts an unelected head of state, King Charles, and a Conservative government led by a leader, Liz Truss, elected to this position by Conservative Party members representing a tiny fraction of the UK electorate.

This government is attempting to impose on people in the UK a programme that has not been placed before the people in an election but simply invented by a small number of Tory MPs.

Meanwhile, a Supreme Court made up of unelected judges drawn from the privileged and monied classes will decide whether Scotland should be allowed to vote on independence.

In response to all of this we promote a genuine, republican democracy and loudly proclaim: Let the people decide!

Solidarity with all protesting the imposition of an unelected King

The Radical Independence Campaign (RIC) expresses its solidarity with all those protesting the imposition of an unelected King. We condemn the fact that protesters have been charged with breach of the peace following the proclamation of Charles’ rule in Edinburgh, and demand an end to militarised policing preventing our communities from having their say.

Last week, the final act of the UK’s unelected head of state was to appoint a Prime Minister who has come to power with the votes of 0.12% of the population. A Head of Government chosen by a tiny number of Tory party members, and a Head of State anointed by an unaccountable ‘Accession Council’, to which our MPs and representatives are subordinate.

The death of Elizabeth II means the automatic appointment, with no discussion or reflection on our future, of a King manifestly unfit to represent the modern peoples of these islands. Charles is unelected, and unelectable. He would never have been chosen in a democratic system.

Never has it been more clear that the rotten structures of the British state are unfit for purpose in the 21st century.

We are told that “this is not the time” to discuss whether we wish to remain subjects of a monarchy. But the current wave of proclamations and propaganda promoting acceptance of the new King leaves republicans throughout these islands no choice but to voice our dissent. RIC insists that now is the time, and that it is vital we demand the right to have a say about our democratic future.

The passing of Elizabeth II is obviously a historic and culturally significant moment. Many people, regardless of their feelings about the monarchy as an institution, feel a sense of loss at the death of someone who has been a constant presence in our public life. For some, it leads to reflection on our own bereavements. These feelings are valid, and must be respected.

But many others strongly feel that, despite their symbolic role, the Royal family do not represent them. There is a sense of widespread unease about having to immediately adapt to a new “King”, and the current state of officially enforced mourning creates an oppressive atmosphere to which we have not consented. For those with connections to countries colonised in the name of the Crown, it is impossible to mourn someone who acted as a symbol of one of the world’s most criminal imperial powers. This reaction is equally valid and worthy of respect. RIC rejects the idea that undue deference and sycophancy are measures of anyone’s respect or humanity.

The rush to be seen to conform to state mandated grief feels more appropriate for an authoritarian regime than a modern 21st century democratic country. The mass cancellation of events, from sports to entertainment to crucial battles for workers’ rights, causes massive disruption to the lives of millions. Ambiguity about correct protocol has seen football matches cancelled while rugby and cricket continued with minutes of silence. Citizens of Edinburgh face their city once again being shut down by road closures and armed police, in order to cater to a fantasy feudal image of the past.

Coming on the heels of years of pandemic conditions which prevented socialisation, cancelled events represent the crucial loss of a mental health lifeline for their participants. Organisers will have lost time and resources that cannot be replaced. But most importantly, thousands of people in temporary, insecure and low wage employment connected to events and hospitality will lose work, in the midst of an unprecedented cost of living crisis.

RIC demands Scottish and UK governments urgently collaborate to ensure these workers receive compensation for their loss of income.

RIC notes that MPs have been invited to make a new oath of allegiance to Charles. All elected parliamentarians, in both Westminster and Holyrood, are required to swear loyalty to the British Royal family, making this new vow a symbolic formality. Nevertheless, it is a democratic affront that our representatives do not swear to serve the people that elected them, and we call on all Scottish MPs to actively boycott this further demonstration of subservience.

The imposition of a new monarch simply crowns the completely anti-democratic nature of the British state in Scotland. Her elevation at the hands of Tory party members makes Liz Truss the 9th Tory Prime Minister which Scotland has not voted for since 1955. She has variously promised to refuse Scotland’s democratic right to self-determination through a second independence referendum, and to attempt to gerrymander the franchise. Her proposed restrictions on a future vote would have seen her fail to win the Tory leadership if imposed on her own contest. RIC demands the unelected UK Tory regime cease its attempts to prevent Scotland holding an independence referendum in 2023.

Contrary to what is often claimed, the monarchy play a key role in the continued anti-democratic nature of the British state. The monarch is consulted on legislation, leading to anomalies like the fact that the Royal household is exempt from laws against racial and gender discrimination in employment. It’s widely expected that Charles will use his audiences with the UK government to push for his own personal hobbyhorse issues, in complete defiance of democratic scrutiny. The fact that new Tory Prime Minister, Liz Truss, is to accompany Charles on a tour of the UK demolishes the myth that the monarchy is apolitical.

But crucially, it is the Crown as an institution that allows British governments to act with impunity, declaring wars or states of emergency without oversight should they so wish. The Crown Powers are at the heart of the UK’s unwritten constitution, and must be abolished if we are to live in a democratic society.

The death of Elizabeth II also marks a moment of deep reflection for formerly colonised countries and their descendants, from Jamaica to Australia. Their citizens must now decide to either amend their constitutions to recognise Charles, or move forward to a modern democratic republic. RIC expresses our solidarity with all societies shedding themselves of the legacy of British imperialism. We demand that in addition to relinquishing their role as head of state, the Royal family begin to make reparations for the enrichment of their ancestors through the plunder of the British Empire.

RIC pledges to oppose all efforts to legitimise the rule of “King” Charles with vocal and public protest, in line with the long history of dissent represented by the common people and republican movements of these islands. We call on all those who support democracy to join us.

  • RIC is supporting a solidarity demonstration outside Edinburgh Sheriff Court on Friday 30th September, 9.45am. You can find more information on Facebook.

Progress to Yes: What does a radical democracy look like?

Iain Robertson provides a report from the Progress to Yes conference in Aberdeen on Sunday 29 May.

What does a radical democracy look like?

An independent Scotland will have a brand-new, written constitution. But what will it say? Where will power rest, and how will it be exercised? How will it allow people to hold our new government to account? Join activists from the Radical Independence Campaign in this short participatory workshop, where everyone in the room will form a Constituent Assembly in miniature, deliberating over what a progressive constitution will look like. At the end, we’ll bring together and publish the most popular ideas as a contribution to the debate about how an independent Scotland should be governed.

This session was organised by the Radical Independence Campaign (RIC) and was run as a workshop involving three groups of participants (26 in total) discussing what the key elements of a new Scottish constitution might include. The aim was NOT to come up with a model constitution in 25 minutes of discussion but, rather, to demonstrate the method of participatory and democratic policy formulation (in contrast, say, with being handed down one or two options to be amended then voted on).

Despite the time constraints, each group submitted a written report, necessarily brief and they comprised headings and pointers rather than fleshed out proposals.

Nevertheless, they provide a flavour of what a constitution could look like and they reflect the aspirations of some of those closely involved in campaigns for Independence. The following points are a collation from the three groups. I have tried to represent as accurately as I could each point. Wordings have been altered on occasion to give clarity.

  • The sovereignty of the people should be a guiding principle in the framing of a constitution
  • A constitution should be capable of being amended with a set threshold to be decided.
  • Democracy should be operated at a more local level including financial/spending controls.
  • Those at the upper levels of power found to have broken laws or parliamentary rules should resign or immediately submit themselves to the electorate via a by-election.
  • There needs to be a mechanism for enabling greater accountability of elected representatives at all levels of government.
  • The extended use of referenda should be a required part of the democratic decision making (reference the Swiss canton model).
  • A federal model with separation of powers.
  • Commitments to environmental sustainability and social justice.
  • The constitution should be framed in clear, easily understood language, not legalese.

Is it not likely that an aspirational constitution paving the way towards a radically improved democracy compared to the current electoral dictatorship of Westminster would be a powerful tool in the armoury to further develop the argument for independence?

We should be working now to frame a constitution and that work should be done by ourselves.