Socialist Worker

Mass Hope Over Fear rally shows the chance to build new left in Scotland

by Raymie Kiernan
Issue No. 2425

Up to 15,000 joined the Hope Over Fear rally in Glasgow last Sunday

Up to 15,000 joined the Hope Over Fear rally in Glasgow last Sunday (Pic: Josh Brown)


Up to 15,000 people rallied in Glasgow’s George Square last Sunday at an event called by the Hope Over Fear campaign initiated by Tommy Sheridan.

It was a day of political speeches calling for people to carry on the fight for independence and social justice. 

People travelled from all over Scotland to attend.

Socialists joined trade unionists, Scottish National Party (SNP) supporters and green campaigners in the square.

People sported badges from the myriad of grassroots pro-independence groups including Women for Independence and the artists’ group National Collective.

John Park was one of the organisers. He told Socialist Worker he wants to see another referendum but he has other priorities too.

“We need to bring all of these people into a campaign and build pressure on Labour and the SNP to fight for social justice now,” he said.

Caitlin Bruce told Socialist Worker the day showed there is an alternative to the status quo. 

She said, “I’m not quite convinced about the SNP. They’re just a bit too polished and are trying to wear Labour’s clothes.”

Caitlin said the growth of Ukip drove her towards voting Yes in the referendum. 

She now thinks “the move towards a left party is a good direction to be going in”.

Left

Former deputy SNP leader Jim Sillars and figures from the Radical Independence Campaign launched the Scottish Left Project last weekend.

It aims to be the “best possible socialist challenge at the Holyrood elections in 2016”.

Socialist ideas strike a chord with many working class people who voted for independence

Socialist ideas strike a chord with many working class people who voted for independence (Pic: Socialist Worker)


Socialists should welcome any such initiative. But they need to seek to unite the left and be open to all who share the wish for a left alternative to Labour and the SNP. 

Scottish Labour and the Green Party have also seen calls for them to move in a radical new direction ahead of the 2016 Scottish elections. 

But the biggest questions are not about an election in 18 months time. 

There is a huge debate about whether the movement should unite around a vote for the SNP at the general election. 

And even more pressing than that is building the fight against austerity and racism now.

Tam Conroy is chair of Grangemouth tanker drivers’ Unite union branch.

“I don’t think it’s a good tactical move for socialists to call for a vote for the SNP,” he told Socialist Worker.

“I think many people realise they can change things for the better now. This isn’t going away. I want a more socially just society. 

“One where workers aren’t targeted by bosses for building their union and don’t live in fear of the bosses.

“We should be taking the opportunity now to build our side and the grassroots movement for a socialist society.”

Debating next steps 

Up to 300 people attended the Marxism in Scotland conference in Glasgow last Saturday. The theme of the event was which way forward for the left after the referendum.

Glasgow university student Conor Loughrey told Socialist Worker, “The atmosphere is great. The broad range of speakers has been really impressive.”

The main discussions featured critical and fraternal debate between sections of the left. 

Bob Thomson from Labour for Independence argued that Labour “may have won the battle but has lost the war”. Tommy Sheridan argued his call to vote SNP next year was a “tactic” in the longer term fight to renew left organisation in Scotland.

The SWP’s Keir McKechnie said, “We need to build a united left now.”


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