WHAT an excellent article on Wednesday from Jonathon Shafi (Class needs to return to the centre of Yes debate, Feb 21)! For someone like myself, a paid-up member of the Labour Party, happy to stuff envelopes, organise events, where was I to go after the Iraq wars? Yes, that far back!

I’d never vote Tory or LibDem, so it appeared that I had no political home. I’d been brought up in the binary trap, not one based on geography but one based on class. For my family,

my peers, Labour were always the government of choice and in bad times, the answer to the Tories. I’m somewhat ashamed that I continued to vote Labour just to keep the Tories out. This was despite deep down knowing I was voting fodder, just another voter with apparently no choice beyond Labour/Tory.

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What future for Scotland should the Tories be in Westminster? Surely Labour would provide the answer. But Labour wouldn’t and didn’t. Power gained is power retained at all costs. It wasn’t just that I was fodder. All of Scotland had been relegated to some distant wasteland, of no importance beyond what was expected from us on polling days, and what profits the land, the resources and the workers provided, all for some notion of the common good that was disguised as the UK.

Was my decision, last century, to return and stay wrong? I had thought my future was here, family and career: perhaps my children would grow up and choose to stay, or maybe not. Should I up sticks? Stay or go? It was never a Braveheart moment. But it was the reality of choice, the real, meaningful choice that a referendum offered.

Scotland experimented with talk, action, a mass mobilisation never planned, largely self-organising, ad hoc. I didn’t need to bond with any political party: I found Edinburgh Women for Independence. So we talked primarily to women in their groups, centres, meetings and to everyone on our stalls about family, money, budgets, health, education, those Edinburgh Trams, and more. We didn’t call it politics and we didn’t call it class. We didn’t talk social empowerment, nor social mobility, when we went back to my old stomping ground, Wester Hailes. We talked need – who needed what and why. No-one asked for offshore accounts or a seat in the Lords, but it opened up conversations on standards and quality of life, hidden aspirations, for themselves, the next generations, long forgotten or subdued beneath the daily grind of too much week and not enough money.

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But it was all politics. We were shameless in our message that power to make change was there for the taking via a vote. So across Scotland there were voter registrations, shared venues and platforms, conversations, politicisation and the vote moved to 45% .What a shock to the establishment and possibly ourselves!

What now? With a clear despondency in many in the grassroots, a falling out of belief in the SNP and the false flag of Labour on the horizon, do we replicate that Scottish-wide dialogue and engagement? How and where? Are we waiting for some starting gun? Does it have to be organised? Could it be organic?

Jonathon Shafi’s “broad discussion” is perhaps a valuable and much-needed tool to re-engage and revitalise the wider public. Let’s be the change we need and want, and not have another change imposed and at odds with the majority.

Selma Rahman

ON Wednesday the Westminster establishment stepped in to protect the Westminster duopoly from self-inflicted damage. How much better Westminster would have looked to the world on Thursday morning if it had grasped the opportunity to spend an Opposition Day debating the potential for ending the fighting and resolving the dire situation in Gaza, then passed the SNP’s motion without a division?

John Jamieson
South Queensferry