REGARDLESS of the result last September, I knew Scottish politics could never be the same again. In constituencies that used to churn out Labour backbenchers, ordinary people threw off their so-called “apathy” and embraced a civic activism closer to revolutionary Europe than to the Westminster routine. I was proud to participate in that liberating period of Scottish history, and I know millions of others were too: even No voters.

And though forecasters expected our spirit to die after 2014, it didn’t. I meet people every week, from nationalist grannies to teenagers discovering Karl Marx, who keep the referendum energy alive. There are still town hall meetings happening in every Scottish constituency, and long may they continue.

Still, we can’t take this spirit of volunteerism for granted. Without the focus of a Yes/No referendum, without a definite date to motivate us, we must consciously fight for a new, more open politics, or risk a return to “normal”. And the upcoming Holyrood election raises a challenge for the independence movement: are we still transforming Scottish politics, or have we simply reinstated its traditional dividing line – Labour v SNP?

I think our movement deserves better than that. An effective parliament must involve centrists who want gradual, steady politics, and the new radicals who want deep and decisive change. The SNP’s yellow, of course, but also Green and Red; and a much brighter, radical red which reinvigorates the real socialist tradition in Scotland, rather than the muddy, faded shade of Scottish Labour.

That’s why I’m thrilled by the launch of RISE – Scotland’s Left Alliance – this Saturday in Glasgow. RISE will seek representation on the regional lists on an anti-austerity, pro-democracy ticket. It represents a coming-together of many different left-wing strands, with the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP), trade unionists, non-aligned socialists and community campaigners all standing under one banner.

My hope is to realise Podemos’ slogan of one foot in the parliament, one hundred on the streets. Breaking from parliamentary routine, we’re set on building an open and democratic avowedly left-wing organisation, answerable to its members and bound by the core values of Respect, Independence, Socialism and Environmentalism.

I think this can reinvigorate an otherwise dreary parliament. Let’s be honest – the SNP are going to win the election. But if the only check on their power is the squalid coalition behind Better Together, complacency and monotony will inevitably re-emerge in Scottish politics, and the independence movement could just become part of the furniture. That would be a tragedy.

Many people who support the project in theory have one doubt in their mind. Is voting for the Left a good tactical option? Aren’t we better to keep voting SNP to crush the life out of the “Project Fear” coalition?

My answer is that, thankfully, our electoral system is the opposite of Westminster in a crucial respect: it empowers tactical voters to choose smaller parties. It’s virtually impossible for one party to win every seat in each region because the more seats you win on the constituency vote, the less you win on the additional members vote. In a region like Glasgow, where the SNP are almost certain to win all 10 constituency seats, every vote they get on the additional member list vote is divided by 10 plus one. Put simply, an SNP vote could be worth one-eleventh of another pro-Yes vote like RISE. Paradoxically, by voting SNP on the second paper, you could be helping Labour and the Tories sneak back in.

The real choice facing our movement is, what sort of diversity do we want? We could have the diversity of a monolithic SNP bloc against a big unionist bloc. Or we could have a diverse, evolving coalition of Yes parties that seeks to win over the remaining unionist forces to independence.

For SNP members, there’s another reason why RISE can work. It’s about how we use the powers of the parliament to confront the evils of poverty and inequality in our society now. One noticeable feature of the SNP’s new recruits is how different they are from the tribal banalities of Scottish Labour, whose political education consisted of memorising the phrase “Labour-good, everyone-else-bad”. Most new members I’ve met see the SNP as a vehicle to independence, and therefore openly concede its failings within the existing system.

These members, I think, will be positive about a force like RISE that could oppose the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and fracking, support progressive and fair local taxation and back social housing investment, while unequivocally and vocally supporting a second referendum for an independent Scotland.

But most importantly, for me, we simply can’t lose sight of the reasons why the Labour party was first created: to represent the voice of working people, our trade unions and our history. If we accept that the Labour party in Scotland, having broken from this purpose and from its traditional and historic base, is not going to capture the popular imagination for at least the next decade, then how do we get our voices heard? I still think there’s a demand and a need for a radical, democratic socialist programme which emerges from the working-class movement.

RISE will give a voice to these arguments and to our movement – and independence supporters won’t be forced to choose between an immediate crusade against poverty and a longer-term crusade for working-class democracy. We can do both.

The SNP’s best and most celebrated policies, let’s remember, came from the pro-independence left. Free school meals and no prescription charges, for example, were the old SSP’s flagship policies. These ideas have stuck around from decades ago; but they needed a voice to begin with.

I’m aware that this is all very ambitious. But so was campaigning to break up the British state, which seemed invulnerable a few years ago. When we launched Radical Independence in November 2012, many people told us it was “pointless” and “divisive”; but by the end of the campaign it was difficult to find one person in the independence movement who did not see its value.

Through trust, cooperation, openness and enthusiasm, we built a campaign within a wider movement that put socialist politics at the heart of the debate. By continuing in that spirit, the traditions of our movement will remain alive long after 2016.