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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.
What if it's not us who are sick, asks Rod Tweedy, but a system at odds with who we are as social beings?
Survivors of the fire are still relying on thousands of community volunteers, writes Dan Renwick - but the failed council is plotting a comeback
The people could reach a democratic and non-violent solution if they were freed from US meddling, argues Boaventura de Sousa Santos
A decade after the start of the crash, economic power is in our hands – we must take it, writes Ann Pettifor
Nick Dowson looks at the new wave of co-ops and community groups where people are building their own truly affordable homes
Hsiao-Hung Pai meets people affected by the fire, and finds sadness and suffering mixed with a continuing wariness of the official investigations
Chris Williamson MP, winner of the election's tightest marginal, Derby North, and recently reappointed shadow minister for fire services, talks to Ashish Ghadiali about Jeremy Corbyn, the housing crisis and winning from the left
The Corbyn-supporting group is preparing for another election at any moment, writes Adam Peggs – and now has the potential to create powerful training initiatives, union links and party reform efforts
The new municipalism is part of a proud radical history
Molly Conisbee reflects on the history of citizens taking collective control of local services
With the rise of Corbyn, is there still a place for the Green Party?
Former Green principal speaker Derek Wall says the party may struggle in the battle for votes, but can still be important in the battle of ideas
Fearless Cities: the new urban movements
A wave of new municipalist movements has been experimenting with how to take – and transform – power in cities large and small. Bertie Russell and Oscar Reyes report on the growing success of radical urban politics around the world
A musical fightback against school arts cuts
Elliot Clay on why his new musical turns the spotlight on the damage austerity has done to arts education, through the story of one school band's battle
Neoliberalism: the break-up tour
Sarah Woods and Andrew Simms ask why, given the trail of destruction it has left, we are still dancing to the neoliberal tune
Cat Smith MP: ‘Jeremy Corbyn has authenticity. You can’t fake that’
Cat Smith, shadow minister for voter engagement and youth affairs and one of the original parliamentary backers of Corbyn’s leadership, speaks to Ashish Ghadiali
To stop the BBC interviewing climate deniers, we need to make climate change less boring
To stop cranks like Lord Lawson getting airtime, we need to provoke more interesting debates around climate change than whether it's real or not, writes Leo Barasi
Tory Glastonbury? Money can’t buy you cultural relevance
Adam Peggs on why the left has more fun
Essay: After neoliberalism, what next?
There are economically-viable, socially-desirable alternatives to the failed neoliberal economic model, writes Jayati Ghosh
With the new nuclear ban treaty, it’s time to scrap Trident – and spend the money on our NHS
As a doctor, I want to see money spent on healthcare not warfare, writes David McCoy - Britain should join the growing international movement for disarmament
Inglorious Empire: What the British Did to India
Inglorious Empire: What the British Did to India, by Shashi Tharoor, reviewed by Ian Sinclair
A Death Retold in Truth and Rumour
A Death Retold in Truth and Rumour: Kenya, Britain and the Julie Ward Murder, by Grace A Musila, reviewed by Allen Oarbrook
‘We remembered that convictions can inspire and motivate people’: interview with Lisa Nandy MP
The general election changed the rules, but there are still tricky issues for Labour to face, Lisa Nandy tells Ashish Ghadiali
Everything you know about Ebola is wrong
Vicky Crowcroft reviews Ebola: How a People’s Science Helped End an Epidemic, by Paul Richards
Job vacancy: Red Pepper is looking for an online editor
Closing date for applications: 1 September.
Theresa May’s new porn law is ridiculous – but dangerous
The law is almost impossible to enforce, argues Lily Sheehan, but it could still set a bad precedent
Interview: Queer British Art
James O'Nions talks to author Alex Pilcher about the Tate’s Queer British Art exhibition and her book A Queer Little History of Art
Cable the enabler: new Lib Dem leader shows a party in crisis
Vince Cable's stale politics and collusion with the Conservatives belong in the dustbin of history, writes Adam Peggs
Anti-Corbyn groupthink and the media: how pundits called the election so wrong
Reporting based on the current consensus will always vastly underestimate the possibility of change, argues James Fox
Michael Cashman: Commander of the Blairite Empire
Lord Cashman, a candidate in Labour’s internal elections, claims to stand for Labour’s grassroots members. He is a phony, writes Cathy Cole
Contribute to Conter – the new cross-party platform linking Scottish socialists
Jonathan Rimmer, editor of Conter, says it’s time for a new non-sectarian space for Scottish anti-capitalists and invites you to take part
Editorial: Empire will eat itself
Ashish Ghadiali introduces the June/July issue of Red Pepper
Eddie Chambers: Black artists and the DIY aesthetic
Eddie Chambers, artist and art historian, speaks to Ashish Ghadiali about the cultural strategies that he, as founder of the Black Art Group, helped to define in the 1980s
Despite Erdogan, Turkey is still alive
With this year's referendum consolidating President Erdogan’s autocracy in Turkey, Nazim A argues that the way forward for democrats lies in a more radical approach
Red Pepper Race Section: open editorial meeting – 11 August in Leeds
The next open editorial meeting of the Red Pepper Race Section will take place between 3.30-5.30pm, Friday 11th August in Leeds.
Mogg-mentum? Thatcherite die-hard Jacob Rees-Mogg is no man of the people
Adam Peggs says Rees-Mogg is no joke – he is a living embodiment of Britain's repulsive ruling elite
Power to the renters: Turning the tide on our broken housing system
Heather Kennedy, from the Renters Power Project, argues it’s time to reject Thatcher’s dream of a 'property-owning democracy' and build renters' power instead
Your vote can help Corbyn supporters win these vital Labour Party positions
Left candidate Seema Chandwani speaks to Red Pepper ahead of ballot papers going out to all members for a crucial Labour committee
Join the Rolling Resistance to the frackers
Al Wilson invites you to take part in a month of anti-fracking action in Lancashire with Reclaim the Power
The Grenfell public inquiry must listen to the residents who have been ignored for so long
Councils handed housing over to obscure, unaccountable organisations, writes Anna Minton – now we must hear the voices they silenced