Mar 30 2013

RIDING TWO HORSES AT ONCE – The SWP and Scottish independence

Scan copyThe following extended review of Keir McKechnie’s pamphlet, Scotland – Yes to Independence: No to Nationalism, was started before the most recent crisis in the SWP became public. Until the SWP resolves this crisis, its political interventions are likely to have more limited impact on the Left than in the past. Socialists should support those SWP members who are rebelling against their party’s bureaucratic and sectarian regime. The whole of the Left will benefit when the shared need for a democratic, non-sectarian and anti-sexist culture is accepted.

But, whichever way the party crisis is eventually resolved (or not), it is still useful to address the specific arguments raised by Keir in his pamphlet, because many have a wider resonance on the Left.  As the SWP moves away from its recent Left Unionist approach to the ‘National Question’ in Scotland, it appears to be following others in adopting elements of a Left Nationalist approach.

However, with the SWP being at an early stage in this transition, Keir’s pamphlet shows elements of both Left Unionism and Left Nationalism. The fact that these two political approaches can live in a symbiotic, and not always conflicting relationship with each other, makes it worth devoting the space to showing some of these connections.

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Mar 25 2013

THE CRISIS IN THE SWP:- The failure of the Central Committee’s ‘recruit, recruit, recruit’ tactics

This article  examines one aspect of the current crisis enveloping the SWP. The SWP has not had a  programme, so it has no real strategy for achieving the socialism it claims to support. Instead, the SWP leadership concentrates on the tactics it thinks will bring it new members. In the SWP leadership’s thinking, socialism will come about through an arithmetical increase in SWP members. Allan Armstrong, himself a former member of the SWP and its predecessor organisation, the International Socialists between 1972-82, looks into the history of the SWP’s lack of programme and strategy, and some of the results of its concentration on recruitment tactics.

thThe SWP is currently undergoing a severe, and possibly a terminal crisis. The immediate causes of this crisis lie in the expulsion of four members for planning to meet to form a faction before the 2013 Party Conference; and the allegations of sexual assault directed against Central Committee (CC) member, ‘Comrade Delta’. As elsewhere in Britain, Scottish SWP members are divided between CC loyalists and dissidents.

Just before this crisis exploded into the public arena, the SWP published a contribution to the Scottish independence referendum debate – Scotland – Yes to independence, No to nationalism. This pamphlet has been written the SWP’s Scottish organiser, Keir McKechnie. SWP organisers are appointed by the CC. So, there can be little doubt, where Keir’s allegiances lie in the current dispute in the SWP.

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Jan 10 2013

THE BELFAST FLAG RIOTS AND THE SCOTTISH DIMENSION

James Slaven of the James Connolly Society updates us on the situation arising from the Loyalist flag riots in Belfast and their attempts to link up with Scottish Loyalists and other neo-fascists.

Loyalists show their allegiances- Union Jack, Red Hand of Ulster and the Saltire

Loyalists show their allegiances – Union Jack, Red Hand of Ulster and the Saltire

The unionist protests across the Six Counties over the decision of Belfast City Council to reduce the number of days the union flag is flown over City Hall are now in their second month. The most serious trouble has centred on parts of Belfast where the UVF have been orchestrating a campaign of riots and sectarian terror directed at areas such as the Short Strand. While much of the media has ignored or downplayed the seriousness of the rioting (the BBC has insisted on calling them protests not riots) it is worth exploring the significance of recent events.

The catalyst for the latest unionist violence was the democratic decision of Belfast City Council to stop flying the union flag over City Hall every day. Instead councillors voted to fly the union flag only on designated days such as Betty Battenburg’s birthday. This decision merely brought the Council into line with other cities and indeed with Stormont. One fact that seems to have been overlooked in the furore is that Sinn Fein voted in favour of flying the British union flag over Belfast City Hall on the designated days.

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Feb 11 2012

THE RCN PLATFORM AND THE SSP

At its AGM on January 22nd 2012 the RCN agreed to withdraw as a Platform within the SSP. This decision was not taken lightly as many of us in the RCN were founder members of the SSA and in turn the SSP.  We agreed from the start that the project of bringing together the Left in Scotland was important, exciting and very necessary. We publicly declared, upon the formation of the RCN, that our role was to act as a communist pole of attraction for Socialists, Republicans and those interested in the emancipatory and liberatory possibilities of Communism.

It is our assessment that the SSP no longer unites the majority of the Left in Scotland, so that a new organisation will be needed to bring about such unity in the future. We believe there are many current SSP members and ex-members, who also think that it no longer can perform this role, but are interested in the creation of such an organisation.

Some RCN members will remain members of the SSP, where they feel it continues to play a beneficial role in working class struggles, whilst other RCN members have left.  For these reasons we have concluded that it is no longer appropriate to be a Platform within the SSP.

We wish to assure you that this decision should in no way be taken as support for the sectarian Solidarity project – it remains our view that it was wrong for all the reasons we have publicly stated elsewhere.

In the coming months, we in the RCN look forward to joining others in on the Scottish Left, including SSP members, in evaluating the past, assessing the present, and debating the future.

(also see:- http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2011/12/23/beyond-the-ssp-and-solidarity-forgive-and-forget-or-listen-learn-and-then-move-on/)

 

 

 

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Aug 26 2011

Tommy McKearney’s new book – ‘The IRA – From Insurrection to Parliament’

Tommy McKearney, former Provisional IRA member and hunger striker, now an organiser for the Independent Workers Union in Ireland,  has spoken at the first Republican Socialist Convention organised the the SSP’s International Committee, and at the third Global Commune event – Trade Unions – Are They Fit For Purpose (organised jointly the the RCN and the commune).Tommy has recently undertaken a tour to launch his new book – ‘The IRA – From Insurrection to Parliament’ (published by Pluto Press, with an introduction by Paul Stewart). He spoke to an audience of over 300 in Dublin, 150 in Belfast, 60 at Free Hetherington, and 40 at Word Power Bookshop in Edinburgh This week he is going on to speak in Cork and Monaghan). 1300 copies of his book have already been sold. Tommy has written up the talk he gave at Word Power bookshop, which can be found at:-
Brian Garvey from the Independent Workers Union also sang at the Edinburgh book launch. The words of his song are printed below.

     

WHEN THE SMOKE CLEARS

Come my dear, come hold me now
The night is cold I’m not sleeping
Let the thundering sky, pass us on by
And leave us in peace one more time

If this is new to you
Let me walk you through
The streets and fields of my rising
By Derry’s walls, Short Strand and the Falls
Where the red paint of war is still drying

Chorus

I send this letter out to the world
On the back of a cigarette paper
It’s a call to your humanity
While in here we struggle for ours

The night was dark, the moon was down
By a window he feared for his mother
He saw a flame in the sky, saw his neighbours run by
As the shadows descended on childhood

That boy I knew, in second hand shoes
By the barricades knew the risk he was taking
For they cut him down
Left him there on the ground
Afraid of the new world he was making

Chorus

For a moment you know, the smoke did clear
The helicopters ceased of their buzzing
We stood on the shore of a brave new world
And I held you there close to my heart

Are we on the dawn of a brave new world
It’s hard to know what a young mind is learning
But streets are on fire, burning with desire
For a world that’s been too long in turning

Chorus

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May 11 2011

Open Letter – No Vote for Galloway

This was issued by the Manchester-based blogger, ‘Infantile and disorderly‘, on May 2.

On May 5, George Galloway will be standing for election to Holyrood. The former Respect MP for Bethnal Green and Bow and Labour MP for Glasgow Kelvin is heading the George Galloway (Respect) – Coalition Against Cuts list. He has the backing of Solidarity, the Socialist Workers Party and the Socialist Party in Scotland. On his election website, Galloway pledges to “oppose every cut to schools, hospitals and public services” and “fight for a parliament with the powers to tax the rich bankers and big business to help pay for jobs and decent public services”. It sounds fine, but there is no way those on the left can extend any level of support for George Galloway.

Galloway is a supporter of the Islamic Republic of Iran. When questioned at a recent public meeting, Galloway denied ever supporting president Ahmadinejad and even offered £1,000 to anyone who could prove his support. However, while interviewing the Iranian president on his Press TV show, The real deal, last August, Galloway stated that he requires “police protection in London from the Iranian opposition because of my support for your election campaign. I mention this so you know where I’m coming from.” In fact, while Iran’s 2009 election is widely accepted to have been rigged, Galloway has stated in his Daily Record blog that the electoral count “was awesome” and the million-plus protesters took to the streets because “too many people were allowed to vote” (his emphasis).

The Iranian regime incarcerates, tortures and executes political opponents, including leftists, trades unionists and leaders of the radical students’ movement. It does the same to those found guilty of “war against god”, a charge levelled at political dissidents.

Confessions are extracted under torture and duress and at times broadcast on state TV channels, including Press TV. Those found guilty of adultery and homosexuality can face the death penalty. Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani (called “the so-called stoning case” by Galloway on Press TV) was sentenced to death by stoning in a court speaking a language she didn’t speak herself. George Galloway denies that homosexuality is punishable by death in Iran. On The Wright show, Galloway stated that “the papers seem to imply that you get executed in Iran for being gay. That’s not true.” He then inferred that the boyfriend of gay Iranian asylum seeker Mehdi Kazemi had been executed for “sex crimes” against young boys and not for being gay.

It’s unsurprising that Galloway publicly supports the Islamic Republic. He is an employee of Press TV, the Iranian state propaganda channel. While serving as a MP, Galloway was forced to declare his earnings from Press TV, which ranged from between £5,000 and £20,000 for his various shows.

As pro-democracy protests engulf Syria, it’s worth remembering that Galloway has previously heaped praise upon the Syrian regime and authoritarian ruler, Bashar al-Assad. Addressing Damascus University in late 2005, Galloway said: “For me he is the last Arab ruler, and Syria is the last Arab country. It is the fortress of the remaining dignity of the Arabs.” Galloway has expressed approval for other dictators too, once describing Pakistan’s general Musharraf as an “upright sort”. Far from a consistent democrat, after the 1999 coup brought Musharraf to power Galloway told The Mail on Sunday that “Only the armed forces can really be counted on to hold such a country together … Democracy is a means, not an end in itself and it has a bad name on the streets of Karachi and Lahore.”

Galloway’s Christian beliefs have influenced his views on abortion and stem cell research. He doesn’t believe in evolution. In The Independent on Sunday in 2004 Galloway said: “I’m strongly against abortion. I believe life begins at conception, and therefore unborn babies have rights. I think abortion is immoral.” He was absent from all votes on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill (which included attempts to reduce the abortion time limit in the UK). His notable absenteeism extends to many LGBT issues and euthanasia. Then again, Galloway always had fairly lamentable levels of parliamentary participation. As a Respect MP, Galloway only participated in 98 out of 1,288 votes. In 2006, he claimed more expenses than any other backbench MP in parliament.

Galloway’s egoism has always been astounding. While most socialists consider it standard for workers’ representatives to be elected on a workers’ wage (not an impoverishing amount, but the salary of a skilled worker), Galloway has declared he couldn’t possibly live on “three workers’ wages”. And what else other than pure vanity can have driven an appearance on Big brother, which discredited whole sections of the left?

Finally, it’s worth remembering that Respect’s own councillors in Tower Hamlets have voted through cuts to public services.

We call on socialists to offer no support for Galloway’s election campaign.

Moshé Machover (Israeli socialist)
Torab Saleth (Workers Left Unity Iran)
Mehdi Kia (co-editor Middle East Left Forum)
Charlie Pottins (Unite and Hands Off the People of Iran steering committee)
Rosie Kane (Scottish Socialist Party)
Nima Kisomi (Iranian socialist)
Sahar G (Iranian socialist)
Suran Badfar (Iranian Socialist)
Vicky Thompson (Hopi)
Tami Peterson (National Union of Students LGBT committee)
David Broder (The Commune)
Steve Ryan (The Commune)
Barry Biddulph (The Commune)
Sinead Rylance (Communist Students)
Ustun Yazar (Communist Students)
Reyhaneh Sadegzadeh (Communist Students)
Alex Allan (Communist Students)
James O’Leary (Communist Students)
Sebastian Osthoff (Communist Students)
Komsan Duke (Anarchist Federation)
William J Martin (Batley and Spen CLP)
Elsie Wraight (Manchester Labour Students)
Rachael Howe (Love Levenshulme Hate Cuts campaign)
Karen Broady (Unison)
Ste Monaghan (GMB)
Edd Mustill (NUJ)
Dan Read (NUJ)
Pete Cookson (NUT)
Joe Broady (Bectu)
Raphie De Santos (‘The left banker’)
Andrew Coates (socialist blogger)
Michael Leversha (student activist)
Beth Marshall (student activist)
Nima Barazandeh (student activist)
Democratic Socialist Alliance (organisation).

Allan Armstrong, Nick Clarke, and Bob Goupillot, editors of Emancipation & Liberation would like to add their names to this Open Letter, but with the following reservation regarding phrase the He doesn’t believe in evolution.

Galloway does support evolution as scientific fact – see article below from ‘Daily Record‘.

http://blogs.dailyrecord.co.uk/georgegalloway/2009/02/student-critic-creates-a-fuss.html

The one thing that does not appear in the letter of protest is Galloway’s public incitement to violence against those who failed to support Sheridan in court in his attempt to use his political position for purely personal gain. We are pleased to see that Rosie Kane, who has been the subject of particularly foul abuse and attention from this quarter, has signed this letter.

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