Thank you for your support.

Due to the continuing confusion over the Scots Asians for Yes and Scots Asians for Independence, I think this site and the campaign has served its purpose during the referendum and it is time to move onto something new, so I will no longer be acting as a facilitator -until the next time.

It will remain up and can be used as an archive to remember how so many of us came together from all backgrounds, to work towards independence.

That dream has not died, just hibernating for the time being, but our work starts once we get Scotland’s voice heard at Westminster. Please support our only ethnic candidate Tasmina Sheikh and make sure she wins!

Thank you for your support and good wishes to all our readers and especially to our contributors who joined us on this incredible journey.

Best wishes

 

Nighet Riaz

Soar Alba

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Conversations with @safi4yes members #GE2015

Last weekend, Neil Hay invited Sohail Haque, Nighet Riaz and Moni Tagore for an informal discussion around the General Election.

A special thanks to Gerry Mulvenna and Ian Russell and Edinburgh Yes Cafe

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Our reply to the Sunday Herald article

An article published today in the Sunday Herald by Tom Gordon, shares the viewpoints of Mr Muhammad Shoaib on his  previous political party and also his thoughts of fellow members.

This article shows clearly why we must always continue to work and support those who work hard at building and integrating communities and are torch bearers for us to work in a progressive nation. There is no place for racism or derogatory language. Tasmina Sheikh is one such individual amongst many I know, who has worked hard in the political sphere. We commiserate that Mr Shoaib feels he did not receive the recognition or reward for his endeavours but this does not entitle him or others to denigrate those that are succeeding on merit in a very competitive field.

Many of us are first,  second or third generation ethnic minority citizens. We do not need anyone to define us as ‘pure’ or otherwise. We are who we are, and that is enough. To deny that there are issues of racism, discrimination or dissension within ranks of any political party would be naive, but counteracting it with name calling really is a case of ‘the pot calling the kettle black’ and aiming those comments at a woman, who is a mother and wife is disrespectful, especially from those that call themselves our community representatives. I have respect for those that work towards progressive solutions, not those that suffer from the malaise of entitlement whatever their background may be. 

Perhaps the time has come for our political parties to implement zero tolerance policies into their codes of conduct, along with cultural awareness training to encourage greater understanding of different communities.

Perhaps its time to embed the equalities agenda into each piece of legislation and start putting this into practise. It is something I and many others would actively encourage, if it is to create a better society for all of us.

 

Nighet Riaz

@nnriaz

 

 

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Clarification

Mr Muhammad Shoaib, yesterday was photographed with Anas Sarwar and Margaret Curran in an article in the Daily Record (06 April 2015), clearly stating him as organiser of Scots Asians for Independence.  This is correct.

Mr Shoaib has and was never associated with Scots Asians for Yes.

Scots Asians for Yes is a campaign that worked closely with Yes Scotland, and is much broader in its approach, encouraging everyone from different political backgrounds and none to have their voices heard across the length and breadth of Scotland, as is illustrated in our blog throughout the referendum period.

Nighet Riaz

Facilitator

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#Yes reasons still valid for building a better future

Scots Asians for Yes

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On RIC 2014

The original article can be found here.

RIC’s Jonathon Shafi looks ahead to Saturday’s gathering and lays out some of the ways that this has been curated into a more participatory forward-focused event.

Everyone remembers those exciting days and weeks on the lead up the referendum. For most of us this was the most exciting political period we had ever been part of. It was full of possibility and potential. This excitement expressed itself on the streets of cities, the town has of villages and in the Yes posters plastered all over our communities. The future was in our hands, and the movement of movements which was forging the way to a new Scotland was vibrant, inclusive and diverse.

After a mass canvass about two weeks before the referendum conversation turned to this years RIC conference. If it was a Yes vote, we’d have to look for a bigger venue. We would be discussing our new constitution, the massive changes in the political landscape, citizens assemblies and so on. But what if it was a No vote? Many of us felt that we should still run a RIC conference, but that it would be difficult, and small in number.

The day after the vote we announced the conference. Thousands clicked they would like to attend on Facebook. Okay, we thought, that’s great. But is it just an initial act of defiance? Could the rebellion last? It did. In many ways those days exciting days before the referendum continue. In the first 24 hours of ticket sales we sold out our initial venue catering for 1000 people. We had to upgrade to the Clyde Auditorium, and within two weeks we had sold 3000 tickets.

This is the kind of situation you can’t plan for. It reflects the deep and profound political awakening that has taken place thanks to the referendum process. Every pro-independence organisation reports the same: new interest, surging attendance at meetings and fundamentally a determination that we are not going back in our box. This is what happens when people feel they have a voice in the political debate. The independence movement has stoked and embraced this process. On the other hand, it highlights why Westminster does not want genuine political engagement, because when it happens, they can’t control it.

RIC has been an inspiring and testing experience for everyone involved. It is run by volunteers, and organised in local groups. It has been inspiring because it shows that even if you don’t have an established name, or any money, you can make a contribution that makes an impact. For the same reasons, it has been testing. For new campaigns, every moment in their development is a test that must be passed. If the first conference was a flop, it would not have got off the ground. If the second conference was not an improvement, there would have been speculation about its demise. If it did not transfer the energy of the meetings and conferences into mass action in communities, it would have been written off as a talking shop. All of this, and much more, has been an immense challenge.

We had to navigate the media, and in the main, we managed to get our narrative about the importance of class into the centre of the debate, without media consultants, advertising resources or special advisers. Every step of the way, for all of us, has been a learning curve.

But the biggest challenge we face now is political. What direction should we take? How can we be most useful to the movement? What are our priorities? There are no easy answers for this. But we can be sure of some key features. We will remain as a broad movement of the radical left in Scotland. We will continue to engage on the social issues affecting ordinary people, and intensify our international relationships and outlook. We will remain an outward looking body of activism, inventing our own initiatives as well as supporting other people’s campaigns for social justice.

All of this is crystallised in the conference on Saturday. 3000 people will have 3000 different ideas of what makes a good conference. With an event of this scale there is a huge challenge to ensure detailed discussion of key issues. That is why we went the extra mile of booking multiple venues, to allow for break out sessions. The discussions fit with our ethos to include broad forces, to encourage diversity of opinion, and to engage in serious debate about the issues our movement faces.

People from all sorts of backgrounds are attending. Socialists, greens, trade unionists, students, CND activists, SNP members and so on. Hundreds have even booked from across, England from Liverpool to London. We will also be joined by international delegations. The day is divided into three streams: Radical Change Now, Radical Debates and Radical Organising. In each stream there are six workshops and a mass forum running in parallel.

The workshops will allow for more specific discussion on important issues, while the mass forums in the auditorium theatre will be huge meetings on strategy and tactics, including major speakers such as Tariq Ali and an international rally with the likes of Syriza, Podemos, Quebec Solidaire and the CUP.  The day will culminate in a ‘Peoples Vow’ which will contain a series of initiatives that we agree will be carried out. Our message is that the politicians vow was not worth the paper it was written on, but that the people’s commitment to genuine social change has not dampened, and will be taken out across the country in our continuing campaign.

Logistics on the day are another huge task, full of possible pitfalls and problems. But to ensure every effort is taken to create a smooth running event, we will have a team of 100 volunteer stewards. We have over 70 speakers representing dozens of organisations. The conference passes will have phone numbers to call if you are lost, or having a problem. Our chairs will be ready to facilitate discussion. Every ticket holder is being emailed so that people can book their chosen workshop (s) in advance. We will have an interactive social media operation. Creche facilities staffed by professional child minders will help to make the event inclusive. We are doing all of this with volunteers, and trying to meet costs as best we can.

The reason for spelling this out is to make clear that we want this day to be more than inspiring, but strategic and coherent in its outcome. Every single workshop, plenary and mass forum will be recorded and put online the week after the event. We want this to help campaigning work after the event. It will allow people to show the meetings to local groups, to look back and find out the key points that were agreed. The entire event, thanks to Independence Live will be live streamed. Your comments will be noted, and added into post conference strategies and ideas.

Nothing on this scale has been tried before on the Scottish Left, at least not for some time. It is a testament to the hard work, strategic intelligence and dedication of activists the length and breadth of Scotland that it can be attempted in the first place. And it is thanks to the historic referendum process that people are so engaged with political ideas. The political awakening is here to stay and it is radical in outlook. RIC is only one part of this, and the start of our contribution post-No is this conference. If you have a ticket, we hope you thoroughly enjoy it, have a chance to impart your own ideas, and learn for others and will join in the debate. If you don’t, we hope you will follow and engage with it on social media. We still believe that another Scotland is possible. From land reform to opposing austerity and privatisation, radical ideas are now firmly part of mainstream discourse in Scottish politics. Those ideas will help to improve peoples lives in the here and now, and they will be critical to winning independence in the long run.

See the full timetable here: http://radicalindependence.org/2014/11/14/conference-timetable-speakers/

Make a donation to help cover costs: http://radicalindependence.org/2014/11/12/ric-2014-appeal/

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The Rise and Rise of the SNP

Original article by Wasim Mahmood can be found here.

2014-11-17-NicolaSturgeon011.jpg

If the end of the referendum on Scottish independence was expected to bring a sense of closure and the resumption of normal service, the outcome has thrown up more questions than it has put to rest. With a rejuvenated political scene and a highly charged electorate, the dust has not so much settled as it has resembled the outpouring of energy following a nuclear reaction. It is evidence enough that each day brings with it a fresh twist in the post-referendum landscape while the interest of the viewing public shows no sign of fatigue. In this atomic atmosphere, the sub-plot following each side has been as intriguing as the marathon campaign for the referendum itself. Such, that the denouement to this particular narrative is now suspended until the General Election.

Rarely, if ever, in any contest have the fortunes of the winners and losers been juxtaposed in such consequential fashion. Though Alex Salmond may have fallen on his sword in the immediate aftermath of defeat, first minister-elect, Nicola Sturgeon will ascend her throne in spectacular style this week with her party dominating domestic affairs as well as impacting the Westminster scene. Buoyed by a resounding party conference over the weekend , swelling support and popular appeal, Sturgeon possesses an extraordinarily strong-hand meaning it is no surprise to see her trailed by a cacophony of sound as she sets out her mandate on a sell-out tour at venues across the country ordinarily reserved for rock stars.

Of course, as President Obama will attest, popularity alone is no guarantor of success and has only limited weight in elected office. If the SNP really are to apply the coup de grace to Scottish Labour, usurp the party at the General Election and assume the role of potential kingmaker, they will require a stellar performance in all areas of its governance spearheaded by the newly-crowned First Minister. This is not overly ambitious and requires the continuation of sound political stewardship that has seen them uproot an entrenched two-party system and come within a hairline of undoing a 300-year old union. Perhaps the only political movement anywhere in the world more popular after seven years in office than when they entered, these are heady times for the SNP as they look to turn the screw on Westminster over its promise of more powers for Scotland made during closing stages of the campaign.

By contrast, Scottish Labour now finds itself ravaged in the face of victory. So far has Labour stock plummeted following a bruising referendum campaign, the party has a fight on its hands just to remain relevant in Scotland. Jolted by last month’s opinion poll which apportioned them a paltry 23% share of a vote in a land they once dominated, the irony is lost on no one that they now find themselves caught in a vicious turf war with their Westminster headmasters in a struggle for greater autonomy. To arrest this free fall, Scottish Labour’s only road to redemption lies in divergence to the path set by the UK party. When its current leadership has to deliberate whether or not it would repeal a law as heinous as the bedroom tax, the disdain for an underclass it still claims sole compassion for becomes clear.

The conundrum however is this: to launch any sort of recovery, it requires a fresh-faced leader ready to cut loose from the party’s current trajectory and introduce a fresh set of ideas congruent to the egalitarian values it once espoused. Yet, such a move just would not be sanctioned by the New Labour machine, so far has it flung itself to the right in thrall to the politics of markets or bust that it has no desire for a return to anything remotely leftist.

For this reason, they have presented Jim Murphy MP, a man devoid of any fresh vision for Scotland and firmly in the mould of Westminster, as their chosen horse in the leadership contest for the Scottish branch. It is staggering that they believe fortunes can be reversed by Murphy, a charmless and abrasive operator best known as Tony Blair’s biggest cheerleader north of the border who continues to bellow out that the best reason for voting Labour is to keep out the Tories, as opposed to any obvious merits of its own. All this simply vindicates the parting shot from departed leader Johann Lamont that the party is spectacularly out of touch with the people of Scotland for it is an electorate well in advance of the narrow political discourse of Westminster.

With Westminster firmly in the last chance saloon, the question is not so much whether another referendum on independence will take place anytime soon but to what extent has the referendum on Scottish independence shaken up the established order of politics in the UK? With a General Election looming and a potential referendum on European Union membership, a disgruntled English electorate will shortly have their say on a debauched Westminster system.

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A New Scotland – History in the Making

Scotland’s biggest moment in over 300 years is now upon us.cllrshabjaffri1

After two years of very hard work, a fact of which I am enormously proud and something I shall cherish for the rest of my life, finally the campaigning comes to an end at 10pm on the 18th September.

What emerges in the early hours of the 19th will affect me, you and our children and our children’s children.

Whatever the result, the decision will become enforceable and irreversible-either way we must emerge as a nation united and move forward.

The future of this nation is not for the politicians to decide but by the people for the people.

I believe that our future can be a very bright one, unfolding tremendous potential that can provide Scotland with a very strong financial lead.

Imagine if we were to raise our hourly productivity by just 0.3% per annum above the UK growth rate our tax revenues could be £2.4 billion higher by 2029-30. Put it in another way this equates to the current revenue from non-domestic rates.

So by way of illustration, with this extra cash the government of the day could technically abolish business rates all together as an extension to the current policy of the Business Bonus Scheme introduced by the current Scottish Government which has helped thousands of small businesses, sometimes to the extent of survival from closure. Alternatively, also without damaging public services, the capital investment in hospitals, roads etc could be doubled without the need to raise taxes.

We can only enhance our economic growth and increase productivity if we have full independence which can be the catalyst to generate more business activity.

Our financial strengths are not in doubt nor our right to use the Sterling, as these matters have been publicly admitted by our opponents who have confirmed Scotland has the potential to be a very successful country, in fact the seventh wealthiest country in the world to be precise.

The philosophy behind the case for independence, however, is not just about financial strengths or having full control of fiscal powers in our own hands. Although a very important part, it should be regarded as the means to accomplishing many other very important goals.

Tackling inequality and reducing poverty is the start of building a new Scotland.  We need to be divorced from Westminster to introduce policies to reduce income inequality. Having control over taxation and welfare is therefore vital. Having even one child going hungry is unacceptable never mind one hundred and fifty thousand of them. We must build on the principle that free education and access to free medical is the basic human right of every citizen of our country.

We must ensure that every worker, especially those low skilled workers, is paid at least the living wage. But we must make it our responsibility to regularly review the level of living wage.

If we vote no then there is no change. A no vote means bigger doses of the unjust and unfair policies from the likes of Ian Duncan Smith. It means Westminster will continue to rule over us, its governments-the ones we will never vote for-will continue to drain us of our hard earned money and natural resources. It will mean its foreign policy will continue to drag us into wars and occupations, both illegal and inhumane.

There is also another inhumane matter. And that is Trident. An independent Scotland will not play host to weapons of mass destruction but we can remove them on the 18th of September with a simple cross next to “YES”.

There is also the very serious threat of Nigel Farage as the next Deputy Prime Minster as UKIP gains momentum sufficient enough for the Tories to seriously consider a power share with it.

A no vote means our block grant, which has already been cut by nine percent since 2010 will continue to be slashed as is the UK Government’s plans for the next five years until 2019. These cuts are set to be bigger than nine percent. The effect of these cuts is obvious as the Scottish Government will face difficult decisions on where best to make cuts in public spending.

Without a doubt there will be numerous challenges facing us in an independent Scotland but they will be our challenges. No matter how hard the road ahead, an independent Scotland will be a land of equal opportunity and entitlement to live free of discrimination and prejudice. It will be where entitlement to public services and to a standard of living that as a minimum secures dignity and self-respect.

That is the kind of country we must strive to live in and that is the kind of country we can make Scotland into; the envy of the world. But we can only do so if we vote Yes-once in a lifetime opportunity, one that we cannot afford to miss. No regrets.

 

Councillor Shabbar Jaffri

 

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ARY News Special Scottish Referendum

Last night, a Pakistani based media news channel broadcasted a programme around the views of Scots Asians and the Scottish Referendum which takes place later this week, Thursday 18 September. The programme was ARY News Special and transmitted at 9.05pm on the ARY News Channel.

I am writing this post as a concerned individual who sees herself with a Pakistani heritage but who was born in England and resides in Scotland.

I am extremely disappointed in the comment made by Mr Amin Mirza, a business owner in and around Glasgow who stated that the

“Yes vote will mean a racist Scotland as Scots are illiterate and not as educated as English”.

I have highlighted this as totally unacceptable and want the Labour Party/ Better Together campaign to retract this statement made by a card carrying member of their party and friend of Anas Sarwar. Knowing that this statement was made whilst manning a stall in the most ethnically diverse wards in Scotland is appalling and undermines decades of work done to welcome citizens of the world to Scotland.

Scots Asians for Yes are part of a broad campaign which is inclusive of all stratas of society and we reject in all totality the statement that was made by Mr Mirza and want the Labour Party to issue an unequivocal apology for the distress caused to all who listened to the programme and the views of its members.

 

N N Riaz

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Inspiration for building a fairer society

Below are some statuses I have unashamedly copied from my good friend and brother Irfan Rabbani  as they touch a cord that all grassroot activists will be feeling – those of us who have worked tirelessly over the last nearly two years. irfanrabbani (1)

“As many of my facebook friends are sons and daughters of immigrants i thought I’d share something with those of that background who missed it last night. One of best statements of campaign to date. Humza Yousaf along lines of following
Our parents came to a new land not knowing in every certainty necessarily what they would find. However they came in hope in search of improving their and our lives. They aimed for better…in essence that is what is at stake here. We dont have every answer but we STRIVE with hope for better. A better life, and a fairer more just society.
Our elders took that bold step for us their children…let us take a bold step for our children.
It might also be worth noting they made that decision for themselves. In essence all we are doing with a YES vote is giving ourselves the right to make our decisions ourselves.”

 

“For those who haven’t for whatever reason haven’t/couldn’t till now – it’s fine…there are legends who have devoted years, some a lifetime..use what they have done to energise you. With less than 7 days to go they have given you, us the opportunity to make history. Let’s get out there and make it happen with everything, anything we can do. A street, a few neighbours, anything. This is the people’s time…show the politicians who this is about: the people…For once a political movement HAS been about the people.
THE YES campaign has been about the people…no has been about and continues to be about the self serving.
Let justice be done…and help it be so”

 

“Be bold be brave be fearless be undettered by scaremongering. ..BE YES”

 

 

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