Mar 14 2020

THE LABOUR LEFT ALLIANCE AND ROYAL SOCIALISM

This letter by Steve Freeman is a reponse to a report by Stan Keable in Weekly Worker about the post-December 12th general election conference of  section of the Labour Left, who have become disillusioned with Momentum, John Lansman’s Corbyn fan club. Yet, as this letter shows the Labour Left Alliance retains  the weaknesses of Corbyn, his allies and Momentum when it comes to the existing UK state.

 

THE LABOUR LEFT ALLIANCE AND ROYAL SOCIALISM

 

As reported by Stan Keable in ‘A vision of royal socialism’ (Weekly Worker, February 27), the Labour Left Alliance conference was a significant event in the evolution of the Labour Left, which was revitalised by the election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader in 2015. Stan reports that 130 delegates at the conference represented about 36 local and national Labour Left groups.

The Labour Left in England has long been ‘social-monarchist’ – or ‘old Labour’, as it was known under the reign of Tony Blair. Social monarchism is the programme based on the 1945 Labour government, which established a version of state capitalism with a ‘welfare state’ under the governance of the constitution of the crown-in-parliament, which Stan calls the “constitutional monarchist system”.

Brirish Left Corbyn’s social-monarchist programme was seen as a move towards ‘socialism’ by restoring some public ownership, the national health service, the welfare state, council housing and progressive taxation, etc. Social monarchism is the trade unionist politics of the British working class. Its aim is to bargain with the ruling class and the employers for better terms and conditions for the working class. Labour and the trade unions are thus two sides – political and economic – of a better social contract agreed within the framework of the constitution of the UK ruling class.

Momentum was launched as the support group for Corbyn’s social-monarchist programme, with Jon Lansman becoming its unelected monarch after his January 10th 2017 ‘bureaucratic coup’. Left social monarchists became increasingly disillusioned with him. This discontent was crystallised after he called for the expulsion of Chris Williamson MP. Over two years later the LLA is a potential alternative Momentum. Around 130 delegates arrived in Sheffield to launch the new organisation.

Left social monarchism has no republican democratic programme. It conceals its ‘democratic deficit’ by concentrating on or prioritising economic and social reforms. It is ‘republican’ only in a token way – as a long-term goal, when socialism is won. In the meantime, workers should bargain for social improvements and not seek political change.

A classic example of left social monarchism was in the motion from Cheltenham Labour Left, which called for a “socialist UK”. This was passed by 63 to 53 votes. It is not just that a socialist kingdom is a contradiction in terms. It shows the blind spot or lack of self-awareness of the English Labour Left. There is a complete absence or ignorance of the militant democratic republican politics of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Connolly, MacLean, etc.

Cheltenham Labour Left seems to consider the United Kingdom only as a geographical territory, which can be filled with capitalist or socialist policy content. The UK is a state and law through which the ruling class exercises its control over a given territory. In law it is an undemocratic union state, comprised of different nations. This is not the means through which the working class can socialise the economy.

A combined and uneven, democratic transformation – or democratic revolution – will not leave the current union undisturbed. The 2016 referendum on the European Union has already shown that Ireland and Scotland are on a different trajectory. English left social monarchists haven’t noticed this – much less drawn any political conclusions.

It is significant that of the 10 bullet points with which Stan sums up the political achievements of the Sheffield conference, nine were organisational and only one set a strategic political goal. This stated that the LLA stands for the “free movement of people”.

It seems that Labour Party Marxists played an important role in supporting the organisation of left social monarchists. Their aim was to win the Labour Party to communism, with the LLA as a vehicle for a united front of communists and left social monarchists. With this in mind the London LLA, under the influence of the Labour Party Marxists, proposed that communism should be the aim.

This is in the resolution from London LLA on aims and principles. This called for “opposition to capitalism, imperialism, racism and militarism and the ecological degradation of the planet … a commitment to socialism as the rule of the working class”. This would move towards full communism as “a stateless, classless, moneyless society”, carrying out the communist principle of “From each according to their abilities … etc”.

The communist programme from London LLA was voted down by about two-thirds to one-third of delegates. The influence of social monarchism runs deep in the Labour Left. Stan fails to mention that hidden within the London LLA aims was a democratic republican programme.

This calls for “achieving a democratic republic. The standing army, the monarchy, the House of Lords and the state sponsorship of the Church of England must go. We support a single-chamber parliament, proportional representation and annual elections”. Whilst this is supportable, it falls down badly in its implicit acceptance of English nationalism (i.e. Anglo-British nationalism).

England is by far the dominant nation in the British union. No revolutionary working class republican would ignore the right of Ireland, Scotland and Wales to self-determination. Neither would militant republicans give any support whatsoever to the anti-democratic Acts of Union. Supporting British unionism is the litmus test of English social chauvinism.

The conclusion from Sheffield must be that the Labour left is disorientated by Corbyn’s defeat but is still following the political programme of social monarchism. Counterposing the communist maximum programme to this simply lets Labour Left reformism off the hook. The immediate task is not about communism but taking the only road towards it through consistent working class democracy – which means winning the working class to the minimum republican programme.

 

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This was first posted in Weekly Worker:-

https://weeklyworker.co.uk/worker/1289/letters/

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also see:-

Steve Freeman – The Left Unity Conference, 2018

http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2018/07/18/left-unity-conference-20-6-18/

Allan Armstrong – The Impact of the December 12th Genera Election across the constituent parts of the UK

THE IMPACT OF THE DECEMBER 12TH GENERAL ELECTION ACROSS THE CONSTITUENT PARTS OF THE UK

Allan Armstrong – After Boris’s ‘Coup’, Let’s Fuk it – It’s the Constitution Stupid

http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2019/08/30/after-boriss-coup-lets-fuk-it-its-the-constitution-stupid/

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Feb 27 2020

COMPETING STRATEGIES IN THE FACE OF THE BREAK-UP OF THE UK AND THE CASE FOR A SOCIALIST REPUBLICAN ‘INTERNATIONALISM FROM BELOW’ ALLIANCE

Allan Armstrong has added an addendum to his book From Pre-Brit to Ex-Brit  (https://allanarmstrong831930095.files.wordpress.com/2020/03/from-pre-brit-to-ex-brit-1.pdffollowing the December 12th UK and February 8th Irish general elections.

 

COMPETING STRATEGIES IN THE FACE OF THE BREAK-UP OF THE UK AND THE CASE FOR A  SOCIALIST REPUBLICAN ‘INTERNATIONALISM FROM BELOW’ ALLIANCE

 

 

 

 

Although Johnson gained an overall Right Populist electoral victory in the UK on December 12th, this disguises the fact that in Scotland the constitutional nationalist SNP emerged as the electoral victor, pushing the Tories and Scottish Labour into retreat. In Wales, the still largely liberal unionist, Welsh Labour and the constitutional nationalist, Plaid Cymru retained an overall majority, but the Tories made substantial gains. In Northern Ireland, the reactionary unionist DUP lost its overall majority, giving a tentative constitutional nationalist (Sinn Fein and SDLP) and liberal unionist (APNI) alliance a majority. Furthermore, there are wider national democratic movements in Scotland, Wales and Ireland/Northern Ireland, which will be prepared to challenge Johnson’s reactionary unionist clampdown. This is a recipe for continued constitutional crisis, with Scotland in the front line at present. Continue reading “COMPETING STRATEGIES IN THE FACE OF THE BREAK-UP OF THE UK AND THE CASE FOR A SOCIALIST REPUBLICAN ‘INTERNATIONALISM FROM BELOW’ ALLIANCE”

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Feb 09 2020

TWO SCOTTISH RESPONSES TO THE DECEMBER 12th GENERAL ELECTION

We are posting two responses to the results of the December 12th general election, the first from activists within the Scottish Labour Party and the second form Gavin Lundy, National Convenor of Young Scots for Independence.

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1. Open Letter: Scottish Labour for Radical Democracy

(this was first posted at:-  https://bellacaledonia.org.uk/2019/12/15/open-letter-scottish-labour-for-radical-democracy)

We demand radical self-determination for Scotland. The Scottish people have, in successive elections to both Holyrood and Westminster, elected majorities in favour of a new referendum on independence. Setting aside the arguments for and against independence, we must not allow a hardline Tory government – which has no mandate here – to override Scotland’s democratic will.

Should all attempts to secure a second referendum by legal and constitutional means be obstructed by the UK government, we support an escalating strategy of non-cooperation and civil disobedience against that government, pursued at all possible levels: from the Scottish Government legislating on, or refusing to cooperate with, matters ‘reserved’ to Westminster, to grassroots non-violent direct action within and outwith Scotland. Continue reading “TWO SCOTTISH RESPONSES TO THE DECEMBER 12th GENERAL ELECTION”

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Feb 04 2020

FROM ILLUSIONS IN A LEXIT BREXIT TO A DISILLUSIONED LEXIT FROM BREXIT POLITICS – THE DECEMBER 12th GENERAL ELECTION AND INDEPENDENT SOCIALISTS ACROSS THESE ISLANDS

Allan Armstrong has published an article entitled From Illusions in a Lexit Brexit to a Disillusioned Lexit from Brexit Politics (https://allanarmstrong831930095.files.wordpress.com/2020/02/socialists-and-december-12th-election-5.pdf) The contents of this book are shown below, followed by the last two chapters and conclusion. This  article follows The Impact of the December 12th General Election across the Constituent Parts of the UK. (http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2020/01/24/the-impact-of-the-december-12th-general-election-across-the-constituent-parts-of-the-uk/)

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FROM ILLUSIONS IN A LEXIT BREXIT TO A DISILLUSIONED LEXIT FROM BREXIT POLITICS 

Telegraph backs Lexiters’ ‘revolution’ and ‘Peoples Brexit!

 

Contents

a)  The 2015 general election provided a warning

b)  After 2015 – an increasingly floundering Left

c)  Northern Ireland – a different pattern

d)  Reactionary unionism and Europhobic opposition to the EU

e)  The largest independent Socialist parties walk into the Brexit trap

f)  The official Remain and Leave campaigns – two wings of the British ruling class

g)  The Lexiters’ false arguments

h)  The political options open in the run-up to the 2016 EU referendum

i)  From 23rd May, 2016 to 8th June, 2017 – A victory for the Left or the Right?

j)  ‘Independent’ Socialists and ‘Oh Jeremy Corbyn’!

k)  Corbyn and the ‘independent’ Socialists unwittingly help Boris Johnson to victory

l)  Independent socialists after the December 12th general election

m) Independent socialists in Scotland and Northern Ireland/Ireland

n) Conclusion

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THE DECEMBER 12th GENERAL ELECTION AND INDEPENDENT SOCIALISTS ACROSS THESE ISLANDS

 

1. Independent socialists after the December 12th general election

On December 12th, Labour’s vote share fell by 7.8% and its number of MPs decreased from 262 to 202. The Tories’ vote share rose 1.2%, but its number of MPs increased from 317 to 365. The gap in the vote share was 11.4%, 32.2% for Labour and 43.6% for the Tories.[1] Not surprisingly a shattered Jeremy Corbyn offered his resignation, opening up the prospect of a new leadership campaign. Continue reading “FROM ILLUSIONS IN A LEXIT BREXIT TO A DISILLUSIONED LEXIT FROM BREXIT POLITICS – THE DECEMBER 12th GENERAL ELECTION AND INDEPENDENT SOCIALISTS ACROSS THESE ISLANDS”

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Jan 24 2020

THE IMPACT OF THE DECEMBER 12TH GENERAL ELECTION ACROSS THE CONSTITUENT PARTS OF THE UK

Allan Armstrong follows up his article, The Continued Rise of Right National Populism and Reactionary Unionism in the Run-up to the December 12th General Election (http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2019/12/09/the-continued-rise-of-right-populism-and-reactionary-unionism/). He examines the impact of the general election results across the constituent parts of the UK and the prospects for the immediate future. 

 

THE IMPACT OF THE DECEMBER 12th GENERAL ELECTION ACROSS THE CONSTITUENT PARTS OF THE UK

 

 

a)    The three possible outcomes of the December 12th Westminster general election

b)    How Corbyn’s Left social democracy, its complicity in British chauvinism and racism and its support for the UK state helped to pave the way for Johnson

c)    Other factors undermining the Corbynista challenge to Johnson

d)    The election results in England

e)    The election results in Wales

f)     The election results in Scotland

g)    The election results in Northern Ireland

h)    Conclusion

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  Continue reading “THE IMPACT OF THE DECEMBER 12TH GENERAL ELECTION ACROSS THE CONSTITUENT PARTS OF THE UK”

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Jan 10 2020

FROM PRE-BRIT TO EX-BRIT – The Forging and the Break-up of the UK and Britishness

 Allan Armstrong’s new book From Pre-Brit to Ex-Brit – The Forging and the Break-up of the UK and Britishness is now available online at:- 

(https://allanarmstrong831930095.files.wordpress.com/2020/03/from-pre-brit-to-ex-brit-1.pdf)

 (Originally posted on 10.1.19, this now includes an addendum, this now includes an addendum following the December 12th UK and February 8th Irish general elections – Part Five, Chapter 5)

Below is the Introduction with an outline if the book followed by a table of Contents

 

FROM PRE-BRIT TO EX-BRIT

The Forging and the Break-up of the UK and Britishness

 

An outline of the book

Today, even the United Kingdom’s most diehard defenders realise their state may not be around forever. This is one of the reasons they are putting up such an intransigent defence. And, as far as the British ruling class goes, their sense of entitlement, following their enrichment over centuries of imperialist plunder and exploitation, means there a few lengths they will not go to maintain their privileged position. Continue reading “FROM PRE-BRIT TO EX-BRIT – The Forging and the Break-up of the UK and Britishness”

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Dec 09 2019

THE RISE OF NATIONAL POPULISM AND REACTIONARY UNIONISM IN THE RUN UP TO THE DECEMBER 12th GENERAL ELECTION

In the lead-up to the December 12th general election Allan Armstrong updates  his analysis of the drift to the Right populist and reactionary unionist politics in the UK and what this possibly means for the future of the Union.

This is followed by an article by  statement from  the Radical Independence Campaign in Scotland on the general election.

Finally we are posting an article by  Tony Greenstein, expelled Labour Party member from Brighton. He predicted the unexpected rise in support for Jeremy Corbyn in 2017, but thinks that Labour’s chances have declined in the run up to the December general election.

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  1. THE CONTINUED RISE OF RIGHT POPULISM AND REACTIONARY UNIONISM 

IN THE LEAD-UP TO THE DECEMBER 12th GENERAL ELECTION

 

(A fuller explanation of what is meant by Right national populism can be found in the article:- https://allanarmstrong831930095.files.wordpress.com/2019/12/right-national-populism-16.3.19.pdf

Neither the UK nor Great Britain have ever been unitary states. All forms of unionism are based upon the unionist nature of the UK state, which has recognised England, Scotland, Ireland (later Northern Ireland)  and Wales as constituent units. This has led to the adoption of various forms of hybrid Britishness.

Three key terms used in this article  are:-

Conservative unionism – This acknowledges the unionist nature of the UK state through administrative devolution (or later acceptance of liberal unionist devolutionary measures  which it once opposed, but have become part of the status quo)

Liberal unionism – This also accepts the unionist nature of the UK state but promotes political devolution as a better method of holding the state together

Reactionary unionism – This upholds the UK state and openly celebrates  its most repressive aspects. e.g. the crown powers, the armed forces and judiciary. It is also prepared to mobilise extra-constitutional force to prevent national self-determination, greater measures of political devolution, and reverse political devolution and even some administrative devolutionary measures that have already been accepted.) Continue reading “THE RISE OF NATIONAL POPULISM AND REACTIONARY UNIONISM IN THE RUN UP TO THE DECEMBER 12th GENERAL ELECTION”

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Oct 27 2019

THE FIGHT FOR SCOTLAND’S REPUBLIC 

Below is the leaflet handed out by the Campaign for a European Republican Socialist Party at the Radical Independence Conference, attended by 500 in Glasgow, on Saturday, October 26th.

 

THE FIGHT FOR SCOTLAND’S REPUBLIC 

Our Radical Independence Campaign (RIC) must not think that IndyRef2 will be a repeat of the 2014 referendum, this time with victory. ‘Brexit’ has changed the dynamic. On one side, the Scottish people voted to remain and will be forced out of the EU against their will. On the other side, English nationalism has become a political force, galvanised through ‘Brexit’, to defend British sovereignty represented by the Crown-In-Parliament.

Once England, Scotland and Wales are outside the single market and customs union a major economic barrier is raised in the minds of voters. A new economic Hadrian’s Wall will frighten or be used to frighten Scottish voters against leaving the British Union. Even if this only affects five or ten percent of voters this  might still make a difference.

Catalonia and Greece have shown that the Scottish people should neither trust nor rely on the EU (i.e. Germany and France with or without the UK). The EU does not support national self determination which would undermine its alliance of states.

With the rise of English nationalism, the Scottish people will have to choose between and ethnic (anti-English) nationalism or civic republicanism. In 2014 the SNP stood on the ‘civic’ side but rejected republicanism or popular sovereignty by calling for Independence under the British Crown (and the Bank of England) with the Queen happily ensconced in Balmoral Castle visited by Alex Salmond.

RIC has to rise to the new situation and be more ‘up front’ and militant in its advocacy of Scotland’s republican democracy. It has to win the nationalist movement and the SNP to popular sovereignty as expressed through republicanism and national self determination. It cannot do this if its hides its democratic republican programme under a bush.

The Tories have signalled their intention to make the next election about the threat to British ‘democracy’ posed by Labour’s support for referenda on leaving the EU and IndyRef2. Labour is a loyal Unionist not a republican party. Although John McDonnell MP said he would accept a decision by the Scottish parliament for IndyRef2 this caused a storm and cannot be relied on.

In 2015 general election the Tories played an English nationalist card about the threat from the SNP which put Ed Miliband on the defensive and clinched Cameron’s victory. Expect the same again. Scotland’s republic cannot rely on the EU or Labour anymore. The experience of the Catalan republic is instructive.

Scotland’s future republic, as represented by RIC, must be built from the ground up in every village, town and city. It must openly advocate building links with republicans in England, Ireland and Wales and importantly the working class movement in England

Campaign for a European Republican Socialist Party

Continue reading “THE FIGHT FOR SCOTLAND’S REPUBLIC “

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Oct 22 2019

THE CONTRADICTIONS UNDERLYING BREXIT AND SCOTTISH INDEPENDENCE

Allan Armstrong sent  this article to Conter, on September 13th, hoping  to open up one of the debates on the Left in relation to Scottish independence, before and during the Radical Independence Campaign conference in Glasgow on October 26th. There has been no acknowledgement of this article by the Conter editor, despite Allan being a member of RISE, Conter‘s main sponsor. This seems to reflect a unwillingness, highlighted at the founding of RISE, to discuss controversial  issues.

However, since then articles have appeared in Conter, or by RISE members writing for CommonSpace, which have been pro-Lexit. Allan’s article was written in an attempt to ensure that a fuller range of Left opinion was addressed on a specifically Socialist site claiming  to promote wider debate. This could then contribute to  the best traditions of RIC, where such controversial issues have been openly debated. A Left that is afraid to debate issues, in a democratic and respectful manner, is doomed to irrelevance.

Fortunately, both Socialist Resistance (http://socialistresistance.org/the-contradictions-underlying-brexit-and-scottish-independence/18211) and bella caledonia (https://bellacaledonia.org.uk/2019/10/24/republican-internationalism-from-below/) have now posted this article. 

 

THE CONTRADICTIONS UNDERLYING BREXIT AND SCOTTISH INDEPENDENCE

 

To date articles in Conter addressing Brexit have concentrated more on the neo-liberal opposition, and those on the Left perceived to be tail-ending this section of the British ruling class. There has been no real analysis of the aims of the hard right and national populist advocates of Brexit, whether the Boris Johnson-led Tories, or the Nigel Farage-led UKIP and now his Brexit Party. Brexit  has not been adequately placed in the context of the global rise of right national populism, highlighted by Donald Trump’s ‘Brexit, plus, plus, plus’, US presidential electoral victory in November 2016.[1] These people are still seen by some on the Left as political outsiders, despite now having their hands  on the US state’s anti-democratic presidential powers and the UK state’s anti-democratic crown powers. Nor have the machinations of such ‘left’ Brexit union leaders as UNITE’s Len McCluskey been addressed.[2]

 

The RIC conference on 26.10.19

The Radical Independence Campaign (RIC) has formed an important arena for discussing such issues.[3] Indeed RIC’s Scottish internationalism is highlighted on its banner – ‘Another Scotland is Possible; Another Europe is Possible; Another World is Possible’. Hopefully, the October 26th RIC conference in Glasgow will extend this opportunity for discussion related to the situation we now face. Understanding the political forces, which the Left is up against, is essential, not only in the UK and wider world, but for us in Scotland, when we consider the future for Scottish independence. Continue reading “THE CONTRADICTIONS UNDERLYING BREXIT AND SCOTTISH INDEPENDENCE”

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Sep 11 2019

SCOTLAND’S SECRET SHAME

The issue of ‘sectarianism’ in Scotland has raised its head again following loyalists attacks on republican marches in Govan on August 30th and Glasgow city centre on 7th September. Whilst the attacks  made by the loyalists were on  legal marches, politicians and the media have  predictably fallen back on the ‘sectarian’ two tribes approach. This attempt to cover-up the central issue, the nature of Northern Ireland’s and Scotland’s relationship with the UK state, has a long history, as shown by the response of  Jack McConnell 

Emancipation & Liberation is publishing an abridged version of an article written in 2006 by the late Brian Higgins, which addresses the issue of ‘sectarianism’. The full version of this article can be seen on the Intfrobel.com website, where it was published for the first time this August.

(https://allanarmstrong831930095.files.wordpress.com/2019/08/scotlans-secret-shame-1.pdf)

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SCOTLAND’S ‘SECRET’ SHAME

 

 INTRODUCTION

The issue of religious sectarianism in Scotland has been raised by Jack McConnell’s 2005 Valentines Day Summit, and by the BBC’s Panorama programme, Scotland’s Secret Shame, on Celtic and Rangers, broadcast soon afterwards.  Tam Cowan has even (if unintentionally!) added impetus to this debate, illustrating the significance of the subject.  He invited Jack McConnell on to his Offside programme (BBC Scotland, 6.3.06,  a satirical rant at Scottish football and the SFA. He questioned McConnell about ‘Scotland’s Secret Shame’ by famously asking him, “What’s secret about it?”  Cowan 1 – McConnell 0.  More seriously, we have UEFA making a bizarre ruling over Rangers supporters’ sectarian behaviour, at the Championship League matches against Villareal.  They initially washed their hands by declaring such behaviour to be “related to a social problem in Scotland”! Continue reading “SCOTLAND’S SECRET SHAME”

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