Jan 18 2016

THE DEBATE OVER SCOTLAND, CORBYN AND THE UNION

Steve Freeman (Left Unity Party and RISE) has been conducting a campaign in England and Wales, along with members of the Republican Socialist Alliance, to get socialists to understand the significance of the Scotland’s ‘democratic revolution’ and the need to break away from the British Left’s traditional unionist politics. Steve has fought consistently to try to make the LUP an anti-Unionist internationalist party.

One of the consequences of the LUP leadership’s failure to adopt this course of action during the Scottish independence referendum was the loss of nearly all their Scottish members.  Now that a bigger Left unionist pole of attraction has emerged in Jeremy Corbyn, the LUP is faced with the loss of most of its remaining members to the Labour Party.This confirms that the LUP leadership’s Left unionism is a reflection of that of the Labour Party and its accommodation to the UK state.

 Here are two letters Steve has written in the pages of Weekly Worker.

Can I see Scotland from here?

Can I see Scotland from here?

Letter 1. Revolutionary (http://weeklyworker.co.uk/worker/1090/letters/)

Revolutionary self-determination

Left Unity Facebook page has seen a debate over a resolution changing the party’s position from left Unionism to anti-Unionist internationalism. The CPGB had opposed this resolution for LU conference. Then two CPGB members (Tina and Steve) claimed, incredibly, that their party was Anti-Union, citing a Weekly Worker article back in 2001.

Now that Corbyn has reclaimed Left Unity’s clothes this question has double importance for the survival of LU as an independent party with distinct politics. Unfortunately, the two key players in Left Unity, Socialist Resistance and the CPGB, are opposing the resolution with fatal consequences.

The resolution says “1. We recognise the Acts of Union bind England with Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. 2. We call for the abolition of all the Acts of Union, thus ending all jurisdictions by the British Crown over the nations of Ireland, Scotland and Wales. 3. By ending all Acts of Union, the people of Ireland, Scotland and Wales, will be able to freely choose their future relations with the people of England, whether as independent nations, or in some form of voluntary federal relationship or within the European Union or in whatever form they decide”.

The Crown and the Union are fundamental to the constitution as indicated in the title “United Kingdom”. The British ruling class defends, promotes and supports its monarchy and its unionist laws. The monarchy, House of Lords and the Acts of Union were and remain undemocratic institutions with laws which are barriers to the sovereignty of the people.

Conservatism defends the status quo. Revolutionary democracy sweeps all into the dustbin of history. Lenin explains in Two Tactics of Social Democracy that “the revolutionary path is one of rapid amputation, which is least painful to the proletariat, the path of immediate removal of all that is putrescent, the path of least compliance with and consideration for the monarchy and the abominable, vile, rotten and noxious institutions that go with it”.

The 1707 Act of Union is precisely one of the rotten putrescent laws that “go with” the British Crown. It binds Scotland to England “forever”, securing Protestantism as the state religion, abolishing the Scottish parliament and giving the Scottish aristocracy and merchants’ access to the British colonies and the slave trade. Which part is relevant today?

The European Union enables the free movement of goods, services and people across the Scottish border. The ‘Little Britain Union’ is as obsolete as the Atlantic slave trade. The capitalist market is subsumed in a much bigger European Union. It makes little economic difference if Bavaria ‘leaves’ Germany, Catalonia ‘leaves’ Spain and Scotland ‘leaves’ the UK since all remain in a Union of five hundred and three million people. The difference is in politics.

The revolutionary class approaches the national question in a revolutionary way. Scotland is part of the process of democratic revolution across the UK and Europe. Scotland’s rebellion against the Acts of Union is directly connected not only to Wales and Ireland but England and the crisis in the EU. The revolutionary class is the only class capable of taking “the path of immediate removal of all that is putrescent” such as the monarchy and the Acts of Union.

The nationalists claim the abolition of the Acts of Union is for the Scottish working class acting alone. This is fundamentally wrong. It is a joint enterprise for the English and Scottish workers aided by the Irish, Welsh and wider European working class. The central problem is that the working class in England has not stepped up to the plate. The confusion in Left Unity is no more than a reflection of this conservatism.

The working class in England must play its revolutionary part. Unfortunately, in England the working class is weighed down by middle class conservatism, trade union economism, social reformism and the dead weight of the Labour Party and the trade union bureaucracy. This is why the fight in Left Unity is important in starting to break the working class in England away from conservative attitudes. Only then will it be possible to unite the English and Scottish workers in a joint expedition to eradicate these laws.

The British ruling class defends the British Union because their rule depends on it, both domestically and internationally. They depend on conservative ideas among the middle classes corrupting the working class. Fear of change is the main weapon in building a conservative majority. With a stake in the system, the middle classes are not going to gamble, not least given the dire warnings of economic disaster. The Tory press deployed this fear in the Scottish referendum and now against Corbyn.

Scotland’s ‘forced marriage’ to England includes no right to divorce. What will replace it? The resolution says that the people of Ireland, Scotland and Wales “will be able to freely choose their future relations with the people of England, whether as independent nations, or in some form of voluntary federal relationship or within the European Union or in whatever form they decide”.

Working class action to end the Acts of Union with immediate effect is self determination considered in a revolutionary way. No clinging to the past or nostalgia for the great days of the British Empire. Revolutionary self determination is about democratic revolution and international action by the working class in England and Scotland. The middle classes may pretend to support self determination but always in a conservative way, hedged by ifs, buts, maybes and probably nots. So Tina is probably right to claim that conservative self determination is in the CPGB programme.

21.1.16

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Letter 2, Programme first (http://weeklyworker.co.uk/worker/1088/letters/)

It was good to read Tony Greenstein (Weekly Worker 17 December 2015) promoting my campaign for anti-unionist republicanism in the 2015 Bermondsey election “as a considerable rebellion against the conservative monarchical forces of Left Unity” and comparing it with James Connolly’s Easter uprising against the British state.

With such high but, may I say with all due modesty, undeserved praise I have decided to offer Tony the job as my spin doctor to continue his good work. But I think he should reference Captain America and Iron Man to fully capture the scale of my heroic deeds. Alistair Campbell eat your heart out!

Even so, it doesn’t seem right to compare Connolly’s Irish Socialist Republican Party and Citizens Army in their rebellion against the United Kingdom with an election campaign which identified Left Unity as hardly republican and certainly not anti-unionist. The argument with Left Unity is not about the tactics of standing in elections versus armed uprisings. It is all about programme.

In 1916 the Labour Party programme was neither republican nor anti-unionist and supported imperialist wars. Connolly stood for the opposite. A river of blood divided these two positions. In 2016 the Labour Party remains committed to the UK constitution based on the monarchy and the union and has continued to back imperialist wars, despite the election of Corbyn and the over-excitement of the Trotskyist left.

My point about Left Unity and the CPGB’s communist platform is not that they should organise an armed uprising anytime soon, but rather that LU has no future unless it changes its programme and becomes an anti-unionist republican socialist party. Then, and only then, will LU be in a position to relate to Rise (Scottish Left Alliance). Then and only then will it place its relations with the Corbyn movement in England and Wales on a solid basis. LU will become a party with its own distinct democratic political objectives and not seem like some Corbyn groupee hanging around the stage door hoping for a sprinkle of star dust.

Tony makes one revealing gaff. He says that “when the political debate in this country (Peter please put “country” in italics) is focused on the battle between left and right within the Labour Party” Left Unity is finished. (“their day has long gone”). But what is meant by “this country”? Does he mean the UK, Britain or England (and Wales)? Scotland has different politics which I highlighted in Bermondsey. (As he missed the key point in my election campaign, he just lost the job as my spin doctor!)

However Tony does make a telling point that the CPGB is in a contradictory position over Labour and Left Unity by trying to run with the hare and hunt with the hounds. Programme must come before tactics. Which side of the river of blood should socialists stand, on the right bank with Kier Hardie and Ramsey McDonald’s Labourism or the left bank with James Connolly’s  anti-unionist republican programme. No contest.

7.1.16

This article is a response to a letter from Tony Greenstein in issue 1087 (see http://weeklyworker.co.uk/worker/1087/letters/)

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Also see http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2015/09/13/open-letter-to-rise-launch-form-republican-socialists-and-anti-unionists-in-england/ which has further links to Steve Freeman’s articles.

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Dec 27 2015

SCOTLAND AND THE EASTER RISING

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Celtic Connections Event

Friday, January 15th, 17.00

City of Music Studio, Royal Concert Hall

 

for tickets go to:- 

http://www.celticconnections.com/events/Pages/event.aspx?ev=debf3997-126f-4987-8d5c-a5460122d826

 

Scotland and the Easter Rising, edited by Kirsty Lusk and Willy Maley brings together writers, journalists and academics to reflect on the part played by Scotland in 1916 and its legacies.

The Easter Rising is a defining moment in Irish history, laying the foundations of the nation. But 1916 also matters for Scotland, for the Irish in Scotland, and for Irish-Scottish relations. Edinburgh-born James Connolly was one of the leaders of the Rising, and a signatory to the Proclamation of the Irish Republic on Easter Monday, 24 April 1916.

Join the editors for this event, chaired by distinguished historian Owen Dudley Edwards and learn more about the Celtic Connections of 1916.

In association with Aye Write! Glasgow’s Book Festival.

 

SCOTLAND AND THE EASTER RISING

Edited by Kirsty Lusk and Willy Maley

CONTENTS

Acknowledgements

Introduction

KIRSTY LUSK AND WILLY MALEY

To Shake the Union: The 1916 Rising, Scotland and the World Today

ALLAN ARMSTRONG

The shirt that was on Connolly: Sorley MacLean and the Easter Rising

RICHARD BARLOW

Connolly and Independence

IAN BELL

A Terrible Beauty

ALAN BISSETT

Who Fears to Speak?

JOSEPH M. BRADLEY

‘They will never understand why I am here’: The Irony of Connolly’s Scottish Connections

RAY BURNETT

Anti-imperialist Insurrection

STUART CHRISTIE

Commemorating Connolly in 1986

HELEN CLARK

The Behans: Rebels of a Century

MARIA-DANIELLA DICK

After Easter

DES DILLON

Margaret Skinnider and Me

PETER GEOGHEGAN

A Beautiful Thing Wronged

PEARSE HUTCHINSON

Home Rule, Sinn Fein and the Irish Republican Movement in Greenock

SHAUN KAVANAGH

Homecoming

BILLY KAY

James Connolly’s Stations

PHIL KELLY AND AARON KELLY

A Slant on Connolly and the Scotch Ideas

JAMES KELMAN

Short Skirts, Strong Boots and a Revolver: Scotland and the Women of 1916

KIRSTY LUSK

‘Mad, Motiveless and Meaningless’? The Dundee Irish and the Easter Rising

RICHARD B. MCCREADY

Irish Kin under Scottish Skin

KEVIN MCKENNA

‘Pure James Connolly’: From Cowgate to Clydeside

WILLY MALEY

MacLean in the Museum: James Connolly and ‘Àrd-Mhusaeum na h-Èireann’

NIALL O’GALLAGHER

‘Scotland is my home, but Ireland my country’: The Border-Crossing Women of 1916

ALISON O’MALLEY-YOUNGER

To Rise for a Life Worth Having

ALAN RIACH

‘Let the People Sing’: Rebel Songs, the Rising, and Remembrance

KEVIN ROONEY

Before the Rising: Home Rule and the Celtic Revival

MICHAEL SHAW

‘Hibernian’s most famous supporter’

IRVINE WELSH

Afterword

OWEN DUDLEY EDWARDS

 

Published by Luath Press Ltd, price £12.99

 

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Dec 03 2015

THE WAR IN SYRIA

We are posting three pieces dealing with the situation in Syria. The first is the emergency motion passed overwhelmingly at the RISE National Conference in Glasgow on December 5th. The second was written by the World to Win Editorial Board just after the vote at Westminster to openly extend UK state involvement in the war in Iraq to Syria. The third by Allan Armstrong (RCN and RISE) was written just prior to the Westminster vote, and was included in the E&L special bulletin for the RISE conference.

 

1. EMERGENCY MOTION ON SYRIA PASSED AT THE RISE CONFERENCE ON DECEMBER 5th. 

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Following:
Continue reading “THE WAR IN SYRIA”

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Nov 30 2015

JOHN MACLEAN COMMEMORATION DAY

On November 30th, 1923, John Maclean, the great Scottish socialist, died, after two decades of committed struggle.  Eric Chester (RCN) has written the following piece, which is a contribution to today’s celebration of John Maclean’s life.

 

 JOHN MACLEAN – 1879 – 1923

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Glasgow has a proud tradition of radical politics, one that is particularly important to remember when the government is promoting jingoistic celebrations of World War I centenaries. During the four years of that devastating conflict, the Glasgow working class engaged in a series of mass actions to protest the war and the profiteering that accompanied it.
Continue reading “JOHN MACLEAN COMMEMORATION DAY”

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Nov 28 2015

MINERS STAND TOGETHER STATEMENT BY THE NUM

CONDEMN THE DEFAMATION OF NUM SOLIDARITY WITH UKRAINIAN MINERS

 

The National Union of Mineworkers has issued a strong statement on the Ukrainian question as a rebuttal to a number of smears against their union.   That any section of the labour movement would engage in such smears is further evidence of the shocking depths of retrogression some have descended to recently.  The NUM is the only trade union in the UK that has visited Ukraine repeatedly since the current crisis began, with a fourth delegation having just returned which visited a number of areas and met with a range of trade unionists.  We encourage other sections of the labour movement to republish the NUM statement and learn from their example of true internationalism.

Ukraine Solidarity Campaign, 24.11.15

 

STATEMENT BY THE NATIONAL UNION OF MINEWORKERS

num

The NUM is disturbed by the smears against our union regarding our approach to the conflict in Ukraine.  These smears have been promoted mainly by elements on the outskirts of the Labour Movement, sadly some who should know better have been willing to give air to such defamation.  We at the NUM have long experience of those who would seek to sow divisions and discredit us and we have a proven record of defending ourselves when necessary.

Continue reading “MINERS STAND TOGETHER STATEMENT BY THE NUM”

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Nov 25 2015

SOCIAL JUSTICE – RADICAL HISTORY, CENSORSHIP AND HOW THE TORIES STOLE OUR LANGUAGE

Pauline Bradley (RCN and RISE) outlines the emergence of the notion of Social Justice during the Liverpool Dockers campaign and how the Tories have attempted to hijack the term.

SOCIAL JUSTICE – OUR RADICAL HISTORY, CENSORSHIP

AND HOW THE TORIES STOLE OUR TERM

Social Justice banner on Liverpool Dockers' March

Social Justice banner on Liverpool Dockers’ March

Social Justice is a concept which has been stolen from the left and distorted beyond belief. Iain Duncan Smith’s Social Justice strategy has devised many “new” schemes to attack the poor such as universal credit which abolished income support and other benefits. Cuts, bedroom tax, benefit sanctions, food banks, increased poverty, misery and despair under the guise of Social Justice have become the norm to poor, working class people. The kind of double think in George Orwell’s classic 1984 and Tracy Chapman’s song “Talkin ‘bout a Revolution;” where
Continue reading “SOCIAL JUSTICE – RADICAL HISTORY, CENSORSHIP AND HOW THE TORIES STOLE OUR LANGUAGE”

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Nov 08 2015

WALK OF PRIDE

Category: CommemorationsRCN @ 8:32 pm

walk of pride (small v)

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Nov 08 2015

SAVING STORMONT: THE LAST HURRAH?

The RCN has continually emphasised the significance of political developments in Northern Ireland. In contrast to England and Wales, where conservative unionism remains dominant, and Scotland where a hybrid constitutional nationalism/liberal unionism is dominant, in Northern Ireland reactionary unionism has become the predominant political force. Together the Ulster unionist parties and the loyalists been able to push back the post-1997 Good Friday Agreement component of the UK state’s ‘New Unionist’ Peace Process and Devolution-all-round settlement. UKIP intends to use this model to extend its own reactionary unionist offensive across the UK.  This article, from Socialist Democracy (Ireland)  shows how the UK state has used the Ulster unionists’ current offensive directed against Sinn Fein, to further its austerity programme, in return for more political concessions to entrench the political position of reactionary unionists and loyalists. 

Ultra-sectarian Ruth Patterson of the DUP challenges party leader, Peter Robinson. from the further Right

Ultra-sectarian Ruth Patterson of the DUP challenges party leader, Peter Robinson. from the further Right

SAVING STORMONT: THE LAST HURRAH

The results of the report by a British government monitoring panel caused bemusement among observers inside and outside Ireland. Following the statement of a few truisms – the IRA still exist, the loyalist gangs are still active – the Democratic Unionist Party, who had been blocking the operation of the local Assembly by resigning their positions and re-appointing themselves in a weekly cycle, returned to their positions full-time.
Continue reading “SAVING STORMONT: THE LAST HURRAH?”

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Oct 20 2015

‘BRITISHNESS’, THE UK STATE, UNIONISM AND THE ‘OUTSIDER’

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In the aftermath of the 2014 Scottish independence referendum and 2015 Westminster General Election, Allan Armstrong (RCN and RISE) critically examines the notion of ‘Britishness’ used in the British Labour Movement when arguing for the progressive nature of the post-1945 UK state and when defending it against demands for greater Scottish self-determination. Promoting different versions of ‘Britishness’, depending on the political pressures facing the British ruling class, have been central to their attempts to maintain their UK state and through this their wider imperial interests in the world.
Continue reading “‘BRITISHNESS’, THE UK STATE, UNIONISM AND THE ‘OUTSIDER’”

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Oct 14 2015

19th EDINBURGH RADICAL BOOK FAIR, 28th Oct – 1st November

Category: Cultural CelebrationRCN @ 4:18 pm

 

Edinburgh Independent Radical Book Fair 2015

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The 19th Edinburgh Independent Radical Book Fair   –  the alternative international book festival – will take place from Wednesday 28th October to 1st November 2015 in Out of the Blue Drill Hall, 30-38 Dalmeny Street, Edinburgh, EH6 8RG, Scotland, UK. 

 

Follow us on  @WordPowerBooks

 
Continue reading “19th EDINBURGH RADICAL BOOK FAIR, 28th Oct – 1st November”

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