As well as an overview of events there are some comments and feedback from attendees. These are reproduced below, see the SSP report below for more details.
Brian Garvey, Fourthwrite, Independent Workers Union:
The space given to democratic discussion, the planning and facilitation of the event was impressive and I’m fairly confident that it was because people felt valued theat the exchanges were so constructive.
The honesty and will to learn from recent experience and experiences of others is a great example to us. So to is the acknowledgement that it requires our working alongside many other individuals and organisations to create a new society and on the bus home we talked of the integrity and earnest of our Scottish friends and look forward to welcoming you to Ireland as we get things moving.
go raibh maith agat
Dan Finn, Irish Socialist Network:
Last Saturday’s conference in Edinburgh was an excellent day, well done to the SSP for organising it.
I learned a lot from the discussions as I’m sure everyone there did.
It was very encouraging to see left activists from Scotland, Ireland, Wales and England who are all working towards similar goals and facing similar challenges come together to see where our work over-laps, what we can learn from each other and how we can support each other’s efforts.
I hope this is just the beginning.
REPUBLICAN SOCIALIST CONVENTION
Allan Armstrong, SSP International Committee
November 29th was a busy day for SSP members. On the weekend of the 85th anniversary of the death of John Maclean, members participated in the STUC’s anti-racist march in Glasgow, the anti-militarist conference in Edinburgh, and the Republican Socialist Convention, organised by the SSP’s International Committee in the Out of the Blue Centre in Leith.
Socialist republicans came from Ireland – north and south – from Wales and England, whilst SSP members from Dundee, Edinburgh, Fife, Glasgow, London and Midlothian, attended the very successful Convention. The Convention chair, Mary Macgregor, outlined the thinking behind the Convention and then introduced the platform speakers.
Frances Curran, our co-spokesperson, led off outlining the situation facing socialists and republicans in Scotland, and highlighting the significance of a Scottish independence referendum, not only for the future of the UK state itself, but for the wider Left in these islands. The British state was a key imperial player in the world and its weakening and demise should be welcomed by all socialists.
Mike Davies, calling himself a socialist republican and Welsh internationalist, outlined the problems faced by the Left in Wales, trying to deal with the sectarian manoeuvring of the British Left, which had sabotaged every unity project. He pointed out that there would be a referendum in Wales seeking more powers for the devolved Welsh Assembly.
Dan Finn, from the Irish Socialist Network, also outlined the difficulties faced in trying to unite the Left, in the face of the sectarianism of the co-thinkers of the British Left. Nevertheless, some real unity had been achieved in the referendum to defeat the neo-liberal Lisbon Treaty. The ISN is an all-Ireland organisation producing its own newssheet, Resistance.
Tommy McKearney, a former republican prisoner in the Maze, now an activist in the Independent Workers Union and editor of Fourthwrite, outlined the situation in the Six Counties, after the Good Friday Agreement. This had copper fastened partition and entrenched sectarian divisions. Yet, most of the earlier economic underpinning of state-backed sectarian had disappeared. Objectively, there were grounds for overcoming past divisions, but this would mean opposing communitarian politics and challenging the current divided political set-up on class grounds.
Declan O’Neill from the Convention of the Left, highlighted the difficulties of uniting the Left in England, once again in the face of continued British Left sectarianism. Nevertheless, the recent Convention of the Left, held in Manchester to coincide with the Labour Conference, had surprised nearly everybody by the numbers who attended, and by the comradely atmosphere. However, there was still a real job to be done in getting socialists in England to understand the importance of republicanism and the political issues raised by comrades in Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
A wide ranging discussion followed, with many contributions from the floor, including from Colin Fox, SSP co-spokesperson, emphasising the internationalist nature of socialism, saying “I just happened to be born in Motherwell – it wasn’t a matter of choice!”
There were four workshops, over two sessions, in the afternoon. Allan Armstrong, SSP, led off on ‘The Scottish Independence Referendum’, whilst Dan Finn led off ‘The Irish No Vote in the Lisbon Treaty’. This was followed by Tommy McKearney leading off the workshop, ‘Can the Good Friday Agreement unite the Irish working class’, whilst Raphie de Santos, SSP, led off, ‘The Irish and Scottish banks and the Credit Crunch’. Virtually everybody participated in the discussions.
After a plenary report back, the platform speakers briefly outlined what they had got from the day, and the possibilities for future joint activities. There was common agreement that despite differences of viewpoint, the whole day was conducted in a very comradely manner, in marked contrast to the participants’ experiences in gatherings dominated by the British Left and their co-thinkers in Ireland. Their methods seemed to duplicate some of those used by the UK state, to ensure its continued domination over the working class and peoples of these islands. Participants were optimistic that there was a real basis for organising by uniting on socialists in Scotland, Ireland, Wales and England on ‘internationalism from below’ principles.
This was first posted at:- Republican Socialist Convention report