Below can be found the two articles from the third of the RCN’s Radical Independence Campaign Special bulletins.
BETWEEN NOW AND SEPTEMBER
RIC activists across Scotland are doing an amazing job leafleting, canvassing and organising meetings and events to help win a Yes vote. Many of us are aware, though, that irrespective of whether the vote is Yes or No, a great deal of work has to be done to politicise the debate before, during and after the vote itself.
The SNP proposals may achieve a government independent of Westminster but they are a far cry from Self Determination based on the principle of the Sovereignty of the People. Perhaps our first task is to influence the composition and agenda of the commission on the Constitution. We want a much higher level of democratic control and participation. This is not possible under the Crown Powers, NATO, and a parliamentary system that insulates MPs from the electorate for a period of up to five years after an election.
Empower the People
A constitution needs to empower the People, not the monarch’s Privy Council. Parliament needs to be answerable to the People between elections and we could examine a system of recall by petition, for example, as is the case in the Venezuelan constitution.
But to do any of this we need to build up a constituency of support. From now to September and beyond we need to promote the idea that while Another Scotland is Possible, it needs to be argued for, not just voted for. We need these ideas in our leaflets, discussed during canvassing and put over in public meetings.
Many people currently active in the official Yes campaign will, regardless of the outcome in September, start to question, ‘What now?’ when it is wound up and the SNP begin their mostly secret negotiations with the team they have specially picked. RIC should be saying now that we have a more inclusive, democratic and radical agenda that we want to include all in a mass campaign to achieve that ‘Other Scotland’.
RIC’s key demands should be for a modern democratic republic where internationalism based on justice, emancipation and liberation are the guiding principles of our foreign policies. There are considerable numbers yet to be persuaded to become involved and who have yet to see that many of us in RIC are internationalists. As such, we are involved in support for Palestine, we have engaged in debates about democratic struggles for self determination in Catalunya and Ireland and have supported speaking tours covering Venezuela, Cuba and Ukraine.
To build on this, there is a proposal to organise a weekend of activity in September, before the vote, which could feature a tour including speakers from England, Wales and Ireland supporting and arguing for a YES vote to benefit all the peoples in these islands.
To sum up, RIC should step up the public profile of its radical agenda. We should clearly be saying that this agenda is for before, during and after the vote, the framing of the constitution and the negotiations of settlement (in the event of ‘Yes’). We should plan for RIC to stay and to grow. To that end, we need to begin thinking about our own structures too. Whatever they are to be, they should be models of the best practice in democratic organisation. If Another Scotland is to be possible, then those seeking to work for it have to demonstrate that another way of working together is a reality!
Iain Robertson (RCN)
STOP THE BANK OF SCOTLAND EVICTIONS OF IRISH HOME MORTGAGE DEBTORS
In Ireland, 200,000 people are currently threatened with eviction from their homes. They are unable to pay their mortgages, as a result of either losing their jobs or suffering from falling pay. This follows from the Irish government’s decision to enforce austerity measures in the aftermath of the Irish banking crash in 2008.
Financial and property speculation
A key player in these evictions is the Bank of Scotland (BoS). BoS entered the Irish banking scene in 2002, setting up Bank of Scotland- Ireland (BoS-I). It became one of the most reckless lenders in Ireland’s ‘Celtic Tiger’ economy, which was fuelled on financial and property speculation. BoS-I was declared bankrupt in 2009. However, in 2010 the BoS (I) transferred all its assets and liabilities to BoS HQ in Scotland, as BoS merged with Lloyds. Before this, though, the Irish loans were sold to speculators as mortgage backed securities. The transferred 34B Euro debts also became tax credits to be used against future profits at the expense of UK taxpayers.
BoS has, in effect, been paid twice over already for the mortgage debts they cavalierly encouraged. However, they set up another company, Certus, operating out of the old BoS-I office in Dublin, to pursue those who had fallen into arrears. This is the company repossessing homes and selling them at auctions in Dublin’s plush Shelbourne Hotel.
City of London satellites
Here we can vividly see the forces we are up against in our struggle for Scottish self determination operating across the full extent of these islands. The Edinburgh registered banks, the Bank of Scotland and the Royal Bank of Scotland, with its subsidiary Ulster Bank, which operates throughout Ireland, are in effect, City of London satellites. The City had already played a key role (along with Troika of the IMF, European Central Bank and European Commission) to ensure that the people of Ireland, particularly the working class, should pay off the bankers’ debts.
In 2008 the British Labour government, jumping to the City’s demands, put pressure on the Irish government. It quickly capitulated, rather than have Gordon Brown declare Ireland a “terrorist state”, as he did in the case of Iceland, where the government was less compliant.
However, organisations have sprung up throughout Ireland to resist these evictions. People rallied around Seamus Sherlock and his five children in Limerick, when he barricaded himself into their home. He had tried to negotiate with the bank, but they would not talk to him. He has now resisted eviction for about six months, attracting widespread attention, including the New York Times.
Ireland, like the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, in the nineteenth century, has a woeful history of evictions. Landlords, often living in London, Dublin or Edinburgh townhouses, ordered these Clearances. They only visited their estates for sport and elite social events. Today, banks, like the BoS, are undertaking the modern clearances, and they are no longer confined to rural areas.
Osborne’s much-vaunted ‘economic boom’ is largely built around another wave of property speculation. What is happening in Ireland could soon visit our shores, when the latest property bubble bursts. RIC could be building on Scotland’s long history of solidarity between those struggling for land and secure homes, beginning in the days of the Irish and Highland Land Leagues. Internationalism from below has been a hallmark of RIC campaigns. Organising protests outside local BoS branches against their activities in Ireland would be a fine continuation of this policy.
Allan Armstrong (RCN)
For earlier E & L RIC special bulletins see:- also see:-