Report of the RISE National Conference 2017

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RISE (http://www.rise.scot/) stands for Respect, Independence, Socialism and Environmentalism. Many of the long term members of RISE are also active in R.I.C. (https://radical.scot/ ) The conference was open to all members, who travelled to Glasgow from all over Scotland. Steve Freeman travelled from England and is a member of both LU and RISE; Julie Morrow lives in South Ayrshire and is also a member of LU. Steve and Julie are working to develop links between RISE and LU.

Conference delegates included members of;

  • ‘Circles’ which have been established in communities the length and breadth of Scotland.  Some are based on regions, others on smaller geographical areas. 
  • Networks, which include Black and Minority Ethnic, Women, Youth, LGBTI+ and Trade Unions
  • Individual members not yet active in circles or networks

The conference organisers had given thought to how to make all delegates feel involved. The room was set with round tables and delegates were urged to sit with others they did not usually work with. During the day, people were moved around.

The procedure for debating was that motions were read out / spoken to and a discussion on tables was followed by amendments proposed by the floor which were then voted on, followed by a vote on the amended or intact motion.

The conference opened with facilitator Suki Sangha introducing Organiser, Jonathan Shafi. Jonathan set the conference in the context of the current international political crisis, the rise of the right and the economic and social hardship faced by people and communities. He described a small and steady growth in membership, a regular monthly income from membership fees and the opportunity to structure the party to move forward. He spoke of a five to ten year timescale and strategy and set this in the context of a more immediate need to be prominent in the movement for an independent Scotland.

The morning session overran considerably, as delegates got used to the new procedure and discussion continued after round table discussions had finished. The issue of structures included proposals to pay organisers and provide better organisation and participation from circles and networks. Agreements were hard to reach, because the following motion on a formal editorial network and a report on finance were also pertinent to this motion. For example the number and remit of paid posts within affordable limits led to suggestions that one of these should have responsibility for developing a formal editorial network. Plans exist to improve and develop vehicles such as the website, but will require time. The morning debate was heavily dominated by male delegates.

The membership and active involvement of delegates under thirty was very apparent, and as many of these work or study full time, it is clear that paid organisers are needed.

After a lunch of sandwiches, tea and coffee the conference picked up speed and the discussion process began to work smoothly. Conference resolved to pay an editor, although further work on the structure of paid posts, collection of fees and growth of the party was needed. As the party grows more affordable options will be available and the success of the structures will be evident in the growth of membership.

The following motions were grouped into

  • Organising
  • Education
  • Policy
  • Campaigns

There were 29 motions and conference reached number 20. Sadly this meant that the motion to work co-operatively with Left Unity (24) was not reached and will be discussed in future. One motion was written and proposed by a sixteen year old and was unanimously accepted (to end military recruitment in educational establishments)

Conference resolver to:

  • Counter potential growth of the right by building resistance in working class communities
  • Support the Popular Education Network
  • Support the Trade Unions by encouraging members to join unions, and to develop the role and work of the trade union network within RISE
  • Campaign for a reduced working week and £10.00 minimum wage
  • Prioritise the further development of disability policy
  • Campaign to end military recruitment in schools, colleges and universities
  • Welcome asylum seekers, campaign for the closure of Dungavel Removal Centre, end indefinite detention, increase the number of refugees accepted into Scotland, campaign against and to reduce, racism and prejudice
  • Campaign for greater control over tax regulation, enforcement and collection and for greater local and national socioeconomic responsibility
  • To support transgender prisoners by campaigning for them to be accommodated according to the gender with which they identify
  • To support RISE candidate(s) in local elections in Castlemilk and to consider further support for sustainable and affordable campaigns in other areas, including support for candidates who share the values of RISE
  • To continue to map, promote and develop involvements in local campaigns, including the development of materials
  • To treat Scottish Independence and the European Un ion as separate issues, and in future, separate referendums.
  • To support sustainable energy workers and initiatives, campaign for fracking to be banned and to scrap Trident.

Conference did not agree with proposals to campaign to put pressure on the Labour party, unions and Jeremy Corbyn, feeling that the party’s energies could be better directed elsewhere at present.

In summary, this was a vibrant conference, with very active participation, which picked up pace as it went on and allowed many member to meet and discuss issues together. Further discussion and development will follow and will be communicated more effectively and led by officers working to an agreed specification. This is a long term project, well placed to develop further after the current local elections. Further links with other organisations such as Left Unity are in the early stages of development.



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