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Staying abreast of political developments feels like a daunting task at the moment. In the space of three years we’ve seen the British state narrowly avoid dissolution, the hard right hideously hijack an EU referendum, and the crisis-ridden Labour Party dramatically recover thanks to a genuinely left-of-centre manifesto.
In this volatile environment, anti-capitalists need to not only be responding to these events but also driving the narrative with our own programme. There’s a good reason Jeremy Corbyn managed to win hearts and change minds over the course of the election campaign: his message resonated because people know in their gut that the system has failed them. We need to be confident in pointing out that wealth inequality, in-work poverty and strained public services are due to unfettered capitalism.
Broadly speaking, socialists down south have realised the importance of getting behind a left wing Labour Party now more than ever. But even the most rampant unionist can’t deny Scotland remains a different beast. Although the SNP are not a socialist party, a significant number of Scots joined their ranks as they were inspired by the more radical arguments offered during the 2014 independence referendum.
But polling data shows a significant number of Yes voters were also motivated by Corbyn to vote Labour in last month’s election. Consequently, Scotland finds itself a position where anti-independence socialists are voting Labour but pro-independence socialists are now split between Labour, the SNP, the Greens, the SSP, RISE and Solidarity (depending on the election).
Although some media outlets might think otherwise, left-wingers on opposite sides of the constitutional divide readily work alongside each other on a wide range of causes and campaigns. Activists in the areas of housing, welfare, the workplace and elsewhere are coming together and winning significant victories.
However, whether you’re a Momentum campaigner or an advocate of radical independence, there are no online spaces where this divide is breached. No single website can unite the left behind a single political project, but Scottish socialists urgently need a platform where they can debate key issues, share experiences or promote campaigns – and, most importantly, do so in a comradely spirit.
We intend Conter (Scots for ‘contrary’) to fill that void. The site will be a home for socialists of all hues to discuss the issues that matter. It’s to be split into two sections: Thought and Action.
The Thought section will carry socialist comment and analysis on a wide range of topics. We’ll be inviting writers and activists to give their perspective on current political topics, but we also want to hear from people with wider ideas on social issues, culture and arts, policy or strategy, no matter how creative or outside the box.
The Action section will promote the amazing work being done by individuals, unions and campaigns across Scotland. So, for example, that might be a video interview with someone campaigning on zero hour contracts or rent controls, it might be coverage of an event or rally, it might be an informative written piece outlining workplace rights in a certain area, or it might be a personal story on a specific issue.
We want Conter to be a dynamic space that’s accessible and easy to navigate, with a mix of multimedia content. But we also intend it to be intellectually assured and firmly rooted in socialist politics. We don’t want the site to simply ‘cover’ various causes and campaigns; we want to analyse our activism and discuss the best way forward for our movements.
The site is being launched by RISE activists, which we’re open about. It follows on from The Scottish Left Project, which was an attempt to bring together different socialist parties and group in order to challenge Scottish parliament elections. Although it isn’t currently an electoral force, RISE activists are involved in various social movements all over the country.
However, the site will have no party line. We’re in the process of setting up an editorial board that will include supporters of the various different aforementioned parties and organisations (or indeed none). The same goes for contributors: we want to hear from you regardless of political allegiance (the obvious exceptions being any organisations that promote racism, sexism, misogyny, homophobia or transphobia in any forms, or if you’ve made personal comments in this area).
We launch soon, but this is very much a flexible, long-term project. We’re keen to hear your thoughts, ideas, pitches, projects and suggestions for content. If you want to get involved, please email email@example.com. We hope to hear from some of you – in the meantime, please follow us on Facebook or Twitter @ConterScot for regular updates.
In Scotland, socialists will be divided on independence, the EU, theory, strategy and many other things. But we’re united on class. Let’s collaborate and unite on the issues that affect real people every day. And let’s debate with each other on an amicable basis, even if that means taking the contrary position from time to time.
The police spend little of their time making arrests, and most crimes are not solved, writes Alex Vitale – their real purpose is social control
Many important things happened on conference floor, reports Alex Nunns – but you wouldn’t know it from reading the newspapers
Radhika Desai says Capital by Karl Marx is still an essential read on the 150th anniversary of its publication
The Spanish state is seizing ballot papers and raiding meetings, write Ignasi Bernat and David Whyte – but it is being met with united resistance
The crunch executive meeting ahead of Labour conference agreed some welcome changes, writes Michael Calderbank, but there is still much further to go
Dipesh Pandya speaks to documentary film-maker Sanjay Kak, who for 30 years has been working outside the mainstream to tell a story rooted in the struggles of those excluded by India’s militarism and its narrative of neoliberal growth
Jeremy Gilbert on how radical Labour politics can be inspired by the utopianism of the counterculture
Disasters have unequal impacts – it's the poor and marginalised who suffer most. David Harvey writes on Hurricane Harvey
‘There is no turning back to a time when there wasn’t migration to Britain.’
David Renton reviews the Migration Museum's latest exhibition.
#MeToo is necessary – but I’m sick of having to prove my humanity
Women are expected to reveal personal trauma to be taken seriously, writes Eleanor Penny
Universal credit isn’t about saving money – it’s about disciplining unemployed people
The scheme has cost a fortune and done nothing but cause suffering. So why does it exist at all? Tom Walker digs into universal credit’s origins in Tory ideology
Meet the digital feminists
We're building new online tools to create a new feminist community and tackle sexism wherever we find it, writes Franziska Grobke
The Marikana women’s fight for justice, five years on
Marienna Pope-Weidemann meets Sikhala Sonke, a grassroots social justice group led by the women of Marikana
Forget ‘Columbus Day’ – this is the Day of Indigenous Resistance
By Leyli Horna, Marcela Terán and Sebastián Ordonez for Wretched of the Earth
Uber and the corporate capture of e-petitions
Steve Andrews looks at a profit-making petition platform's questionable relationship with the cab company
You might be a centrist if…
What does 'centrist' mean? Tom Walker identifies the key markers to help you spot centrism in the wild
Black Journalism Fund Open Editorial Meeting in Leeds
Friday 13th October, 5pm to 7pm, meeting inside the Laidlaw Library, Leeds University
This leadership contest can transform Scottish Labour
Martyn Cook argues that with a new left-wing leader the Scottish Labour Party can make a comeback
Review: No Is Not Enough
Samir Dathi reviews No Is Not Enough: Defeating the New Shock Politics, by Naomi Klein
Building Corbyn’s Labour from the ground up: How ‘the left’ won in Hackney South
Heather Mendick has gone from phone-banker at Corbyn for Leader to Hackney Momentum organiser to secretary of her local party. Here, she shares her top tips on transforming Labour from the bottom up
Five things to know about the independence movement in Catalonia
James O'Nions looks at the underlying dynamics of the Catalan independence movement
‘This building will be a library!’ From referendum to general strike in Catalonia
Ignasi Bernat and David Whyte report from the Catalan general strike, as the movements prepare to build a new republic
Chlorine chickens are just the start: Liam Fox’s Brexit trade free-for-all
A hard-right free marketer is now in charge of our trade policy. We urgently need to develop an alternative vision, writes Nick Dearden
There is no ‘cult of Corbyn’ – this is a movement preparing for power
The pundits still don’t understand that Labour’s new energy is about ‘we’ not ‘me’, writes Hilary Wainwright
Debt relief for the hurricane-hit islands is the least we should do
As the devastation from recent hurricanes in the Caribbean becomes clearer, the calls for debt relief for affected countries grow stronger, writes Tim Jones
‘Your credit score is not sufficient to enter this location’: the risks of the ‘smart city’
Jathan Sadowski explains techno-political trends of exclusion and enforcement in our cities, and how to overcome this new type of digital oppression
Why I’m standing with pregnant women and resisting NHS passport checks
Dr Joanna Dobbin says the government is making migrant women afraid to seek healthcare, increasing their chances of complications or even death
‘Committees in Defence of the Referendum’: update from Catalonia
Ignasi Bernat and David Whyte on developments as the Catalan people resist the Spanish state's crackdown on their independence referendum
The rights and safety of LGBTQ+ people are not guaranteed – we must continue to fight for them
Kennedy Walker looks at the growth in hate attacks at a time when the Tory government is being propped up by homophobes
Naomi Klein: the Corbyn movement is part of a global phenomenon
What radical writer Naomi Klein said in her guest speech to Labour Party conference
Waiting for the future to begin: refugees’ everyday lives in Greece
Solidarity volunteer Karolina Partyga on what she has learned from refugees in Thessaloniki
Don’t let Uber take you for a ride
Uber is no friend of passengers or workers, writes Lewis Norton – the firm has put riders at risk and exploited its drivers
Acid Corbynism’s next steps: building a socialist dance culture
Matt Phull and Will Stronge share more thoughts about the postcapitalist potential of the Acid Corbynist project
Flooding the cradle of civilisation: A 12,000 year old town in Kurdistan battles for survival
It’s one of the oldest continually inhabited places on earth, but a new dam has put Hasankeyf under threat, write Eliza Egret and Tom Anderson
New model activism: Putting Labour in office and the people in power
Hilary Wainwright examines how the ‘new politics’ needs to be about both winning electoral power and building transformative power
What is ‘free movement plus’?
A new report proposes an approach that can push back against the tide of anti-immigrant sentiment. Luke Cooper explains
The World Transformed: Red Pepper’s pick of the festival
Red Pepper is proud to be part of organising The World Transformed, in Brighton from 23-26 September. Here are our highlights from the programme
Working class theatre: Save Our Steel takes the stage
A new play inspired by Port Talbot’s ‘Save Our Steel’ campaign asks questions about the working class leaders of today. Adam Johannes talks to co-director Rhiannon White about the project, the people and the politics behind it