The 2010s: Consolidation and independence within our grasp
The 2010s would be the most significant decade for the London branch, and indeed for the party since its founding in 1934.
David Nummey took over the convenorship of the branch in the lead up to the 2014 referendum and beyond. David proved to be an outstanding convenor and the branch was deeply involved in pro-independence forums across London, active at our call centre and also in canvassing in a number of constituencies in Scotland.
A highlight of our canvassing in Scotland for the independence referendum was when we joined forces with magazine ‘Red Pepper’, and a group of more than 20 activists took the train to Glasgow to be greeted by a welcoming committee from Radical Scotland. A first-class weekend of meetings and canvassing took place and everybody was convinced by the end of the weekend that we could win the vote. Glasgow delivered a Yes vote but sadly, as we know too well, we did not carry the country.
Nevertheless the referendum brought the branch a huge increase in membership, jumping to more than 700 from the 100 which had been our average for many years. The branch meeting of the 14th October 2014 at the Hoop & Grapes pub attracted the largest attendance at a meeting to that date (the landlord was concerned that we were breached the fire regulations). All in the branch knew that this was just the beginning of the renewed fight for independence. David guided the branch expertly through this massive expansion with a range of guest speakers of the highest calibre. The large numbers attending necessitated a change of venue as our room upstairs in a pub proved far too small. We moved to a club near Borough market, the best venue we had ever used, with all the facilities we needed including disabled access.
Russell McLean took over as convenor in 2018 and continued building on the good work that David had put in place. Russell also became the first member of the branch to be elected to the newly formed Party Policy Development Committee. The London branch had been successful at annual conference in ensuring that one delegate from branches outside Scotland should be represented on this influential committee.
Russell had to step down as convenor in 2020 when he secured a posting to New York. Finlay Royle became convenor and continues to lead the branch into the 2020s – which we firmly believe can be the decade when Scotland secures her independence.
Alba gu bràth!