Monthly Archives: April 2014

Scots Asian Women for Independence #gameon

As Scots Asian women for independence, we represent both our ethnic heritage and our gender, both equally important to our identities. We are women, we are Asian and we definitely want independence!


As we have canvassed across the different wards in Glasgow and during our recent visit to Edinburgh, we have been overwhelmed by the sincerity of the people we meet on the doorstep, on the streets and who have visited our stalls. Even those that are so against independence melt when we ask them why. Sometimes we may not change the other person’s mind, but what we have all learnt is to respect the other person’s viewpoint. Its important to them. Be gentle and be kind, we are all entitled to our opinions.

We have fantastic representation at the highest levels of Scottish politics in Tasmina Ahmed Sheikh who is the SNP’s National Womens Officer and who has tirelessly campaigned alongside many of us for a prosperous and socially just future for Scotland. Tasmina is standing as a European Parliamentary candidate in the forthcoming elections, and we at SAFY are proud to have such a capable and multi-talented woman emerge from our community.


We have Suki Sangha, a firebrand of a young woman, a youth worker who works with the most marginalised young people in Glasgow and has that indepth understanding of what poverty does to a human being  and the sometimes insurmountable barriers that are created due to the unequal sharing of resources and the ever growing gap between the haves and the have nots.


At the grass root level we have Ghazala Ahmad who is a student, and mother of two young children, who has been working extremely hard to convince people of why independence is so important to those that live in Scotland, and Nighet Riaz, a PhD Researcher at the University of the West of Scotland.


We have Humma Majid, another student who is engaging with community groups, and many more women in our midst who are quietly discussing the positive case for independence with their families, colleagues, community and religious groups, in order to bring about the change that is needed for a more democratic and progressive nation. We are growing in number, and we will do our best to bring the positive argument to the forfront – not as a confrontation, but as a vision we can all translate and implement as a step to a better future.


N N Riaz


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SAFY Canvassing in Pollok 27 April

SAFY Canvassing in Pollok 27 April

Join us at our canvass across Pollok with our Minister for International Development and External Affairs, Tasmina Sheikh, the European Parliamentary Candidate and Yes Scotland Advisory Board member, local councillors, cross party and no party members and activists. Looking forward to visit you on your doorstep!

NN Riaz

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by | April 21, 2014 · 7:08 pm

Positive #Yes on 8 out of 10 doorsteps #result

Today was a glorious day full of sunshine, warmth, laughter and teamwork, as we canvassed across Maryhill and Springburn.


We spoke to families as the men washed and waxed their vehicles, and children played on their bicycles, going round and round in circles, and the women popped out intermittently to see what their children and menfolk were up to.

Each household we visited succumbed after hearing the positive case for an independent Scotland, with one household giving us all SEVEN of their votes! 20140420_131021

We are very privileged to have such talented individuals in our midst who represent us in political office and are working so hard to get the message out to as many people as possible.

We would like to extend a special thanks to Yes Maryhill and Springburn’s Andrew Baddon, who was very kind to prepare the canvass materials for the session today.

Looking forward to our next canvass next Sunday 27 April over in Pollok.


N N Riaz


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Missing in Action

An article by Jonathon Shafi from the Radical Independence Campaign copied from the Bellacaledonia website.

Let me right at the outset define what I mean by alienation. It is the cry of men who feel themselves the victims of blind economic forces beyond their control. It’s the frustration of ordinary people excluded from the processes of decision-making. The feeling of despair and hopelessness that pervades people who feel with justification that they have no real say in shaping or determining their own destinies.
– Jimmy Reid, Glasgow University in 1972

Overcoming alienation, explaining the ‘undecideds’

On recent mass canvases in Glasgow we have found there to be a very large number of undecideds. Scanning social media reports its seems to be the case that there remains a high number don’t knows in places all over Scotland As a result many have asked why this is the case. Are there any particular issues? Is there anything we can change about our messaging? And so on.

In truth there is no magic wand, or simple solution to this. This article deals with a specific form of being ‘undecided’. One person may be balancing the arguments, carefully, critically. They may be tuning into every debate, reading the latest developments and speaking to friends about the referendum. But another, bigger, section are not really ‘undecided’ on the basis of the arguments as such. They are undecided because they have not yet thought about it in any serious way.
This in part helps explain why undecided voters are so high in areas where there is low voter turn out. The richer you are, the more your interests are represented and reflected in the political and financial institutions. Thus, there is a reason to take an interest, because your own interests are more likely to be acted on institutionally. Conversely, in areas where the interests of the electorate are not even an after thought, alienation from the political process is deep. Indeed this alienation is in and of itself a long-term process of demobilisation. Structural and social issues coalesce to create a barrier to political action, including the fact that daily life is enough of a struggle.

Neoliberalism versus democracy

But the daily struggle of life acting to subordinate an individuals engagement with national political questions, makes up only part of the answer. The system itself breeds disengagement. We live under a system where the state and corporate interests are one and the same. The operation of the state and the economic system are mutually reinforcing, with the establishment now engaged in delivering a lasting ideological and structural assault on the welfare reforms won after 1945. The disastrous levels of poverty and disengagement experienced today are a result of decades of privatisation and neoliberal consensus. This has had a profound impact on the ability of the major political institutions to operate in a framework where the interests of working people are able to penetrate the axis of corporate-state power. Noam Chomsky concludes:

‘Democracy is permissible as long as the control of business is off-limits to popular deliberation or change; i.e., so long as it isn’t democracy. Neoliberal democracy therefore has an important and necessary byproduct – a depoliticized citizenry marked by apathy and cynicism.’

Augmenting this process, neoliberalism has atomised the workplace and sucked the life blood out of communities up and down the country. Often when there is talk of life blood being sucked out of communities, the automatic response is to think of jobs and the economic impact that follows. True though that is, it is not the end of the story. Unemployment, the shutting down of day centres, cuts to community funding and the lack of local projects driven with funding from the massive wealth in the economy results in the shriveling of democracy. Again, to Chomsky:

‘To be effective, democracy requires that people feel a connection to their fellow citizens, and that this connection manifests itself though a variety of non-market organizations and institutions. A vibrant political culture needs community groups, libraries, public schools, neighbourhood organizations, cooperatives, public meeting places, voluntary associations, and trade unions to provide ways for citizens to meet, communicate, and interact with their fellow citizens.’

Of course these are the very amenities and associations we have seen less and less of in recent decades. When people ask why there is disengagement, this is the reason. It’s not just because people don’t trust politicians, or that people feel there is no point in political engagement because they have not seen any evidence to suggest their action makes a difference. These are not unimportant – but the problem is systemic in nature. In essence the neoliberal democracy is limited to the parameters of the interests of big capital, and in addition the tapestry of organisations, groups and community facilities needed to catalyse and maintain a culture of political engagement have been systematically undermined, shut down and shattered by years of strategic neglect. Permanent austerity is now the over-arching strategy which incorporates all of this, underlined with an ideological demonisation and a further fracturing of our society along the lines of race, benefits claimants, the ‘work-shy’ and so on. they have not just been cutting services, they’ve been destroying democracy along the way.


If this is the problem, then the solution to the democratic deficit is obvious. Re-build a culture of solidarity, reverse the upwards distribution of wealth and power and energise community programmes, cooperatives, public meetings and so on. That will take nothing short of a mass social and political renewal which will require a strategy based on the long-term detoxification of neoliberal failure.

But that doesn’t answer how we might seek to win the disengaged and disenfranchised to a voting Yes in the next 5 months, especially as we know how important a Yes vote is for a democratic revival. But understanding why exists the way the do is the first step to finding solutions. these are some suggestions borne from the preceding analysis:

  • The opening the referendum offers is in part that this is not a vote for a party. The independence movement is much wider than the SNP, to the degree where very small organisational units, with no financial backing have flourished into full-blown campaigns. But that is not the impression for many tens of thousands of potential Yes voters who see the referendum through the lens of the political party; and primarily between Labour and the SNP. We need to amplify the compelling message that this vote is more than a party, and that for once, you are in the driving seat of its outcome. That is incongruous to the neoliberal norm and should be seized upon.
  • The tradition of the public meeting is being brought back as hundreds flock to independence meetings up and down the country. The vast majority of these meetings are composed of Yes voters. That understandably leads many to the conclusion that public meetings are of secondary importance to canvassing. But there is a qualification needed here. The public meeting is vital to generate quickly the bonds of solidarity, and the emergent political culture necessary to bring about a wider shift towards Yes. As we get closer, public meetings can become hubs where people go to find out more. A good idea would be to tie canvassing with the promotion of a regular question and answer public meeting. It would help if meetings also included some music, or food. Let’s build that community atmosphere that’s been missing for so long. Big speeches are important, but so too is the buzz of conversation over some food and drink. Lastly, public meetings, if they are to kick-start democratic revival in communities should not all be at 7pm on a weekday. Try lunchtimes, Sunday afternoons in cafes etc. Try a mix of formats and events that go beyond having a top table then questions. You will get a different crowd.
  • Raising ambitions. Neoliberalism has ground the ambitions of so many people down. The world seems so vastly unequal, and political institutions so out of touch that it is impossible to change and futile to try. Additionally, aversion to risk, even if you currently have very little, is a category heightened by precarity and living on the edge or below the poverty line. The wealth divide is also a psychological divide. The super-rich feel all-powerful. So we need to say that in this referendum the establishment are not getting it all their own way, and that things can change. Without raising our collective ambition there is no will to change. That is the crux of the ‘Another Scotland is Possible’ message. It says we can change the society around us, and that the system that perpetuates poverty is not invincible. We need to take this out in concrete terms: let’s not simply say Scotland is a wealthy nation. Let’s say we are a wealthy nation, but here’s how we can be a wealthy people.

People power

These are some ideas, but of course there is no easy or quick solution to reversing decades of a systematic concentration of power to the establishment. Democracy has been undermined as part of the interplay between the state, corporate power and neoliberal ideology.

With hard work it is possible to haul back some of the ground we have lost. In-fact we have already achieved a lot in this direction, in the short time since the start of the official referendum process. This shows we have the potential. Those who usually don’t vote because there is nothing gained by filing in the ballot paper can play the key role in winning Yes and beyond.

Our answer to alienation is quite different to the Westminster establishment, who are quite happy with the present state of affairs. People power can win, if we can show those who are currently disengaged from the process, that on this occasion, their vote can be cast to bring about genuine change, and at last, start to form the basis of a serious challenge to neoliberalism.

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SAFY Edinburgh Launch and upcoming SAFY Canvassing

20140414_185845[1]This has been a busy week for Scots Asians for Yes, and it will get busier still as more and more people get involved in arguing the positive case for an independent Scotland.

As we talk on the doorsteps, with regular canvassing across Glasgow and Edinburgh, more and more folk, men, women and our young people are getting convinced.


This Monday we were invited to South Leith Parish Halls in Edinburgh to launch the Scots Asians for Yes Edinburgh branch by YesLeith and YesNorthLeith campaigns. A few pictures where taken and can be viewed on the SAFY facebook page.

It was a great event, enjoyed by all who attended. The panel of speakers were phenomenal, with Jonathon Shafi from the Radical Independence Campaign and Tasmina Ahmed Sheikh,the SNP Euro Parliamentary candidate and Assad Khan a member of the Scottish Youth Parliament discussing what independence meant to them and how it will benefit the citizens that live and work in Scotland.



This Sunday 20 April, from 1-3pm, we will be canvassing in Maryhill and Springburn. We will be joined by Humza Yousaf MSP, Minister for International Development and External Affairs, and Tasmina Ahmed Sheikh, the SNP European Parliamentary Candidate, our local councillors, and many more activists from across the pro-independence spectrum. We look forward to campaigning alongside you.


Wishing everyone celebrating Easter, a very happy Easter from Scots Asians for Yes.


N N Riaz

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The Ins and Outs of Independence – Imran Choudhury, Eastern Eye

ANN017_11042014_ISS1246 scotland (1)

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WHY VOTE YES by Tasmina Ahmed Sheikh

On 18 September this year, you and I will make a historic statement on our ballot paper. We will be saying ‘I trust Scotland’s people, those who live and work here, to make decisions about our country’s future.’
Yes is a vote for Scotland’s Future, for ourselves, our children, the generations not yet born. We’re saying we believe in our own ability, the people in Scotland from every community and every background, to make the best choices for Scotland.
A Yes vote, led by an SNP government, brings with it guarantees that cannot come from Westminster. Governments here will always be formed by parties that win elections in Scotland.
Yes brings a new society, a Scotland that is fair, compassionate, honest and accountable to everyone.
There will be a transformational extension of childcare, giving our children the best start in life, making it easier for parents to return to work and delivering new job opportunities, adding to everyone’s prosperity.
It will mean the end of the Bedroom Tax that so disadvantages 85,000 of the most vulnerable Scots and it will protect pensioners’ incomes so that they don’t fall behind inflation.
There will be no illegal wars, no Trident missiles at the back door of our biggest city.
There are 650 Westminster MPs in all. Scotland has 59 of those seats so we don’t have the numbers to make a lot of noise about our particular needs and choices.
As only certain powers are devolved to the Scottish Parliament, our Scottish Government in Edinburgh has its hands tied and that means Scotland is held back economically, socially and in terms of our future prosperity. Why? Because Westminster rule means we cannot make our own decisions about big issues such as welfare benefits, immigration policy, asylum seekers, defence and foreign affairs.
This is not about the ‘break-up of Britain’ that some allege. The First Minister, Alex Salmond, spoke a while back about “the six unions.” He said that after independence five of the six will remain: the European Union, a wider defence union, a currency union, the monarchy and the social union.
Only that sixth union, the political and economic union, isn’t working for Scotland: “it holds Scotland back and imperils our future. It will not bend, and it will not change of its own accord. So we will –we must – change it.”
We want to see the closure of the Dungavel detention centre and end the practice of dawn raids. We can end the inhumane treatment of those who have exercised their legitimate right to seek asylum. We can develop proper, humane and compassionate treatment of refugees, and we can bring a more thought-out and appropriate policy on immigration.
The Westminster ‘go home’ advertisements will have no part in our new Scotland. The migrant communities who live and work here are a major contributor economically, socially and politically.
Do you want to see more of the old ‘same old, same old’ story that says No and changes nothing?
I know where I stand. I hope you will stand with me for yourselves, your children and the future of our country.
The world is watching and waiting, and Scotland is ready to get on.
Tasmina Ahmed Sheikh

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