The great success of the conference was made possible by the political ferment which developed in the run up to September's independence referendum and which, unexpectedly, has continued without faltering since polling day. Prior to referendum day, RIC organisers assumed that in the event of a 'No' victory the conference would be at best the same size as the previous two conferences. Yet all 3000 tickets sold in a few weeks.
But the success also rested upon serious coalition-building stretching back to the preparations for RIC's first conference two years ago. The 2012 and 2013 conferences each drew up to 1000 people. Together with the growth of local groups nationwide and on-going campaigning, those conferences laid the basis for such an unprecedented success. Organisation matters: these things don't happen by accident.
This enlarged political space for left-wing ideas - and political demands that dissent from a narrow and sterile 'orthodoxy' - was part of the context for today's conference. There was a powerful sense that the terms of political debate have shifted recently, and this offers openings to RIC and the left. The conference was explicitly left-wing, yet also tangibly part of a larger mainstream political discussion in Scottish society: as RIC's national co-ordinator Jonathon Shafi noted, it is a crucial step in creating a mass left that is taken seriously and capable of influencing the national debate.