We set up Conter in October 2017 as a resource for Scottish anti-capitalists of all persuasions, which is key. This does not include anyone affiliated with groups who have promoted racism, abuse, sexism, homophobia or transphobia. The site is split between ‘Thought’ and ‘Action’ sections: the former carrying comment on a range of issues; the latter promoting activism across the country. No single website can unite the left behind a political project, but Scottish socialists need a platform to debate key issues, share experiences and promote campaigns – and do so in comradely spirit across sectarian divisions of ‘party’ and ‘tendency’. We hold various views on everything from independence to the EU to how we strategise in local communities. But we are united in our core aims around class.
The site was funded and set up by RISE, a coalition of pro-independence socialists which formed for the 2016 elections, but is editorially independent. Although the alliance is not currently an electoral force, resources like this signal the group’s intent to collaborate and reach out – not just form ‘another front’. If anything, members from the SSP, Momentum, the Greens, SNP Socialists and others have been very supportive.
Has the site accomplished everything we wanted it to? Not quite and we would never profess to being ‘the number one site on the Scottish left’ but a space to learn, vent and connect with like-minded people is valuable. We lack money, time and resources to quickly build the site into the accessible multimedia site we want it to be – the fact we have even reached tens of thousands of people through our various platforms is humbling and surprising. I am particularly proud of the activist guides we put together on rented housing, zero hours and benefit sanctions – these have been shared the most. We believe political education is of vital importance. For example, we will be teaming with Sunny Govan Community Radio for upcoming live political debates.
Conter stems from the Scots word ‘contrary’. Bias is important and we are unapologetic in our politics, but some sites, particularly on the left, are guilty of proclaiming themselves gatekeepers, seeking to direct activists in how they should think (and vote). Conter is about learning and challenging ourselves. That goes for the editorial team, too – I have learned a huge amount in the months since I started editing on the site. I think that aspect has been a success and we have had a lot of positive feedback from people who find the site accessible and easy to navigate with content that is thought provoking and digestible.
Jonathan Rimmer is editor of Conter and a freelance journalist. Conter can be found at https://www.conter.co.uk/blog
We asked Red Robin, which started in February 2018, to provide the same amount of text but despite agreeing to do so, it did not deliver its article. Therefore, all Scottish Left Review can do in these circumstances is reproduce what little that Red Robin says about itself on its website: ‘The Red Robin was founded to create a distinctive left voice in Scotland. We provide serious news from a left perspective. We want to bring you exclusive content from key figures in the Labour movement’.
- We’d also like to remind readers that the Scottish Socialist Voice is the only socialist newspaper published in Scotland. With more than 500 editions, it can be found at https://socialistvoice.scot/. The only daily socialist newspaper in Britain, The Morning Star, has a new Scottish editor, Conrad Landin. Conrad can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org