The National:

WITH the conference now over and the results of the elections showing a clear victory for the emerging grassroots, the SNP Common Weal Group (CWG) has a message to the party leadership: now is the time for change.

With CWG members and signatories to the Manifesto for Democracy elected onto the NEC, there has been a clear political marker set by the party membership – or those that could afford the £30 delegate fee during a global pandemic. The reforms set out in the manifesto must be addressed by the NEC.

Party unity is valuable and we must keep true to it. Yet, there needs to be a compromise for this to happen. Often what people really mean by “unity” is “we are the adults in the room, and you must do as we say”. I'm sorry, but that's not how internal party democracy works. For unity, we need to open up transparent and democratic mechanisms within the party infrastructure to give a voice to grassroots members. Unity is reached when consensus is reached. Consensus is reached when party members have a voice.

The CWG has encouraged grassroots members to engage with internal party democracy, offering them the opportunity to call for democratic reform of the internal structures. The grassroots should be in control of the future of the party and that is precisely what the CWG has campaigned to deliver. It is now the responsibility of the newly elected NEC to deliver on these reforms, and the CWG will hold them all to account.

Looking forward, the CWG is only getting started. There is a lot of work being done to give party members the chance to discuss left-wing economic policy. What will the Green New Deal mean for Scotland? How can we diversify the ownership of land through radical land reform? How can we ensure local wealth is retained in local economies, instead of being extracted by large multinational corporations?

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It's vital that we don't forget to look at these ideas from the perspective of working-class communities. Improving the material conditions of working people, as well as giving greater advantage to domestic businesses, are vital to not just improving our local economies, but building confidence in these communities.

If we are to build our radical agenda, we need to have the flexibility to meet people where they are and bring them to where they need to be. Mass movements can only be engaged on the terms that they set. By speaking from a perspective which can understand and explain the dilemmas facing our economy, we can build a movement of political action which can deliver radical change.

We need to be positive in our messaging and we need to be positive in our outcomes. People don't feel the effect of your intentions, they feel the effect of your actions. We can encourage ordinary people to get behind a radical agenda if we can improve the conditions in which they live.

The CWG has delivered a major victory for grassroots members, but it doesn't mean anything unless we can deliver radical change. There will be times when we win and there will be times when we lose – that's fine. In the words of the late and great Tony Benn, "there is no final victory, and there is no final defeat".

The CWG will always campaign to give a voice to the grassroots, and it will always campaign for left-wing economic policies.

Craig Berry is the convener of the SNP Common Weal Group