Allan Armstrong argues why we need to build a militant republican movement in the UK
2011 – what they don’t want us to remember
2011 brings the tenth year of the US/UK imperial war in Afghanistan and the third year of the ongoing economic crisis, brought to us initially by the US and British banks (with both the Royal Bank and the Bank of Scotland contributing to the mayhem).
Horrific levels of Afghan civilian casualties continue to mount (nobody officially bothers to count their actual numbers), whilst over 350 British soldiers have already met their deaths in continued government military attempts to help the US prop up the corrupt stooge government of Karzai and the warlords.
Meanwhile, in the UK, official estimates of unemployment and inflation (which underestimate their true extent) have reached 8% and 5% respectively. Tory Chancellor, George Osborne, is pushing for an £81 billion reduction in public sector expenditure this year. He hopes to cut whole swathes of welfare provision, in preparation for further privatisations. These follow on those already planned under his New Labour predecessors.
A two year long Royalist ‘Brit-fest’ to help us to forget
What we all need to keep our minds off endless wars, disappearing jobs, falling real pay and pensions, worsening conditions and slashed services is – wait for it… a two year long Royalist ‘Brit-fest’. This will be fronted by that lovely, homely family – the Windsors. It will be orchestrated by the Con-Dem coalition, cheered on by not-so New Labour, with the loyal SNP loudly proclaiming – “Oh, and we support the monarchy too, but give us a few less union jacks and a few more saltires”.
So the royals have kindly agreed to provide us with two weddings this year to keep our minds off other things. We can either cheer wildly in the streets or, failing that, watch it all on TV, or listen on the radio, thanks to the planned wall-to-wall media coverage, still led by good old Auntie (although this may be BBC’s last big outing). Oh, and by the way, this royal jamboree will continue into 2012 with Elizabrit’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations. Could you ask for more!
First off is the royal wedding for Prince William and the commoner (but still not short of a bob or two) Kate Middleton. We have already contributed countless thousands to William’s courtship by paying for all those RAF helicopter trips to take him to their love trysts. So why not spend a few million more on all the pomp and splendour, not to mention the massive security costs (there is always someone who wants to spoil a good party), on the wedding itself in London’s Westminster Abbey.
Just to ensure that we are all free to join in the fun, we are getting an official holiday on April 29th. Now, just in case you are not able to make it down to London, we in Scotland are generously getting our very own royal wedding opportunity here in Edinburgh. On July 30th Zara Phillips (she’s the daughter of Princess Anne – the horsey one) is marrying another commoner, England rugby player, Mike Tindall. (The Windsors seem to have cottoned on to the problems of royal inbreeding.)
This wedding is being held at Canongate Kirk, conveniently located on the Royal Mile (which will be closed down for three days) near to Holyrood. It is also close to the Scottish Parliament, built on a site specially chosen by the late Donald Dewar, the first First Scottish Minister, to be next to royal Holyrood. See that New Labour – still Loyal Labour!
However, Cameron’s Tories don’t want all that good feeling to get lost between July and the launch of the Diamond Jubilee next year. Indeed, whilst we ponder over which country the UK can invade next (we will have to wait for the White House to tell us the actual one), and whilst we continue to tighten our belts, wouldn’t it be good to have another holiday – a UK Day. Isn’t it just great to have a Royal Family and to be British too!
October 21st is the proposed day for this holiday. It is to be held on the anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar. The Tories, though, do intend to give us a day off (and maybe a free union jack to wave too). Generous eh! Well not exactly – they intend to take away the May Day holiday. The official new UK annual calendar must not be marred by anything so working class or international.
Resisting the unionist and royalist offensive
Will there be any mainstream political opposition to all this? Although there are still some socialists in the Labour Party, and undoubtedly some republicans in the SNP, both of these groups are ineffectual. There will certainly be no official lead from either of these parties, and any member openly rocking the boat can expect to be firmly dealt with. Salmond, following the always-loyal British Labour Party, has turned the SNP into a pro-monarchist party. He achieved this with less protest from members than when New Labour ditched Old Labour’s totemic Clause 4.
The growing anger at the desperate economic and international political situation is palpable. The basis for mounting a real opposition to their two year Royal ‘Brit-fest’ certainly exists.
It is the very comprehensive nature of the current British ruling class offensive which demands something more than just another ‘Stuff the Jubilee’ or a ‘Kate – Don’t do it, remember Lady Di’ protest. We need to counter their attacks by building a republican movement – one that is consciously against the UK state’s anti-democratic Crown Powers. These Crown Powers are used to send British troops anywhere in the world, including our own streets, without even parliamentary sanction. They can also be used to suppress any serious move to exercise genuine self-determination.
Nor should we be afraid to seek support beyond Scotland on an ‘internationalism from below’ basis. The British ruling class will certainly draw on its supporters across these islands, either openly, or clandestinely, if necessary. Most importantly, we must not dilute our class’s economic and social demands to win over the rich and powerful – that is just inviting more attacks on our jobs, conditions and services. As a famous Scottish-born, socialist republican, James Connolly. once said, “We are modest, we only want the earth.” Therefore, we need to be ambitious, and like the British ruling class, think strategically. If we do this, then their triumphalist two royal weddings could lead to an altogether different outcome – a republican funeral for the United Kingdom.