Jul 07 2017

ADDRESS TO THE LEFT UNITY CONFERENCE ON JUNE 24th

Allan Armstrong was delegated at the RISE National Forum held in Edinburgh on 8th April to be its representative at the LUP conference on May 20th. Due to the General Election this was postponed to June 24th. Attached is the full version of the talk he prepared for the conference held in London. In the event, because of time constraints, the oral version was slightly abridged.

This was first posted on the LUP blog:- http://leftunity.org/rise-speaker-addresses-lu-conference/

ADDRESS TO THE LEFT UNITY CONFERENCE ON JUNE 24th

I would like to thank the LUP for providing me with the time to address your conference as a visiting representative from RISE.

Many of you here today are old enough to remember the heyday of the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP), which had a considerable impact throughout the UK. The SSP united the overwhelming majority of socialists in Scotland and at its height had 6 MSPs. It inspired the Socialist Alliance (SA) in England and Wales. Although the SP and the SWP managed to sabotage the SA the SSP’s downfall was an almost entirely Scottish affair. This can be largely laid at the feet of a certain Tommy Sheridan.

After 2004, socialists in Scotland were very divided. IndyRef1, though, provided an opportunity for socialists to regain political influence. Young socialists, largely unaffected by ‘Tommygate’, initiated the Radical Independence Campaign (RIC) in 2012. This coalition, or united front, brought together, not only many of the previously divided socialists, but the Left in the SNP and the Greens and a majority not involved in any party. Continue reading “ADDRESS TO THE LEFT UNITY CONFERENCE ON JUNE 24th”

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Apr 07 2017

SOME OBSERVATIONS UPON ‘THE COMMONWEALTH OF ENGLAND’

Allan Armstrong makes some observations on The Commonwealth of England written by Steve Freeman (see http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2017/04/07/the-commonwealth-of-england/). He examines the likely role that federalism will play in IndyRef2, drawing on the historical precedents for its use in the UK and USSR.

 

SOME OBSERVATIONS UPON THE COMMONWEALTH OF ENGLAND

There is a great deal I agree with in Steve’s article. In a later contribution to this discussion I would like to develop Steve’s historic analysis, going back to the days of the Levellers, through the Chartists and on to the Suffragettes. However, in these observations, I will confine myself to the issue of federalism.

The political origins of the idea of British federalism go back to the first attempts to hold together the British Empire in North America, when faced by the challenge of American republicanism. It failed. The challenge of Irish republicanism and the War of Independence from 1919, led to a Westminster Speakers’ Conference. This recommended a federal solution for the UK. It too failed. Although the UK state did instead, after Loyalist pogroms and reactionary Partition, come up with the earliest form of political Devolution in the UK – Stormont. No wonder it was difficult for others later to win support for devolution in Scotland and Wales, when Stormont formed the precedent!
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Mar 29 2017

PADDY BORT – 1954-2017

Allan Armstrong writes about the contribution made by Paddy Bort, who died on February 17th, to our understanding of Scottish and Irish cultural and political links.

 

PADDY BORT – 1954-2017

Eberhard Bort, Germano-Scot and Germano-Irish by choice, “in essence the ultimate European”, and known to most acquaintances in Scotland and Ireland as Paddy, died unexpectedly on February 17th. Steve Byrne, founder member of the folk group, Malinky, and convenor of the Hamish Henderson Archive Trust, wrote what has become Paddy’s much circulated obituary. It begins with the strikingly appropriate words, “A hole the size of Arthur’s Seat is in the Edinburgh folk scene today.”
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Dec 09 2016

BEFORE AND AFTER THE ‘RETURN OF THE BRUTE’

 

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As the official celebrations and the unofficial commemorations of the centenary of the First World War continue, many personal accounts, poems and novels written about this period have been published or republished. One novel, not yet republished, is Return of the Brute, written by Liam O’Flaherty. David Trotter, in The Cambridge Companion to The Literature of the First World War, argues that, unlike most British war novels, it was written by an author of proletarian origin. Whilst O’Flaherty was Irish, Trotter is right in considering  Return of the Brute to be a British war novel. It is based upon the author’s experiences fighting in the British army on the western front.  The novel “intended to do justice to the brute’s point of view” [1], where the “brute” stands for working-class soldiers. If so, the “brute” refers to atomised, alienated and demoralised workers, brutalised by life on the western front.
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Dec 08 2016

DEBATES AND DISCUSSIONS ON THE EMANCIPATION & LIBERATION BLOG ABOUT THE EU AND MIGRATION

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Our Emancipation & Liberation blog has posted articles about the EU and Migration since it was set up. The earlier postings covered  the Republican Communist Network’s involvement, when it was a platform in the Scottish Socialist Party. The first debate was in 2002 over whether the SSP should back joining the euro in the event of a referendum over the issue. The majority in the SSP was anti-euro, although there was a small pro-euro minority. The RCN formed another minority, which was for a campaign of active abstention.
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Dec 07 2016

BUILDING AN ALLIANCE BETWEEN RISE AND LEFT UNITY

RISE held a national members’ meeting in Glasgow on saturday 3rd December. The leaflet ‘Building an alliance between RISE and Left Unity’ was circulated. Steve Freeman and Allan Armstrong (of the Republican Socialist Alliance – RSA) addressed the meeting. Steve has subsequently written a report for Left Unity. These two ianti-Unionist alliance items have been posted below.

This is followed by giving the links to articles on this blog which have argued for  greater unity, on an anti-unionist basis, between the RSA , the Radical Independence Campaign, the Left Unity Party and RISE.

 

1. BUILDING AN ALLIANCE BETWEEN RISE AND LEFT UNITY

Steve Freeman speaking at first Left Unity Conference

Steve Freeman speaking at first Left Unity Conference

Preamble

Left Unity was set up in 2013 to organise a party standing in opposition to neo-liberalism and the politics of New Labour. The party aimed to unite democratic socialists and communists into one party to resist austerity politics. The majority of LU members were in England with a small membership in Scotland and Wales. Left Unity had no policy on the national question until the Scottish referendum in 2014 when the party voted to take an abstention position.
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Dec 03 2016

WHICH WAY NOW – ‘BREXIT’ OR ‘EX-BRIT’?

Allan Armstrong, of the Campaign for a European Republican Socialist Party, draws some political conclusions from the online discussion (http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2016/11/20/from-farages-brexit-to-trumps-brexit-plus-plus-plus-and-on-to-madame-frexit/)  of the political situation in the UK in the aftermath of the Trump vote. 

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WHICH WAY NOW – ‘BREXIT’ OR ‘EX-BRIT’? 

a) Brexit and the change in British ruling class thinking

Since the Brexit vote, the Tories, under Theresa May’s leadership, have been moving away from the recently shared politics of the majority of the British ruling class and mainstream British political parties. A central feature of these politics was based upon the globalised neo-liberal economics pushed by Margaret Thatcher, in the interests of a turbo-charged City of London. The City had really taken off after Nigel Lawson’s ‘Big Bang’ deregulation in 1983. Following New Labour’s 1996 election victory, they adopted the same unquestioning pro-City path. This was shown when Chancellor Gordon Brown abolished the few remaining government controls over the City’s operations. Under Tony Blair, Butskellism gave way to Blatcherism.
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Dec 02 2016

ST. ANDREWS DAY OR JOHN MACLEAN DAY?

The Irish Workers' Republican Starry Plough does not have an equivalent accepted by the working class in Scotland

The Irish Workers’ Republican Starry Plough does not have an equivalent accepted by the working class in Scotland

Today is St. Andrews Day. It is not yet a full-blown public holiday, although there is some partial observance. The following article was written by Allan Armstrong for the Lothian SSP bulletin in November 2007. It is even more relevant today, when Scottish nationalists try to subsume all of us under the saltire.
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Nov 27 2016

MULTI-MILLION £ HOUSING BENEFITS SCAM EXPOSED!

In response to the announcement that we are going to have to pay £369M to refurbish Buckingham Place, Allan Armstrong and John Tummon of the Republican Socialist Alliance wrote the following letters to The National, which were both published.

 

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Letter 1

Queen Lizzie is probably being shielded from the concerns of many of her subjects, who are being asked to cough up £370 million to do up Buckingham Palace. This, at a time when not only the usual “undeserving poor” but the “just about managing” JAMs are finding it difficult to make ends meet. Should she ever be informed, though, I’m sure she will answer: “Let them eat Tunnock’s Teacakes.”
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Jul 15 2016

PEOPLES, NATIONALITIES, NATIONS, NATION STATES, NATIONALISM AND NATIONALISTS

A young comrade after reading the UK State, Britishness and the ‘Racialised’, ‘Ethnicised’ and ‘National’ Outsiders (http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2016/03/02/britishness-the-uk-state-unionism-scotland-and-the-national-outsider/) has asked Allan Armstrong to clarify the differences between Nationalities, Nations and Nation States. Here is a section of Allan’s book, Internationalism from Below, volume 1, which explores these concepts.

 

PEOPLES, NATIONALITIES, NATIONS, NATION STATES, NATIONALISM AND NATIONALISTS

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Nationality, nation, nation-state, nationalism and nationalist are five words that can provoke very different responses on the Left. In a world of officially recognised nation-states and national movements seeking UN approval, both nationalities and nations are often seen to have collective personalities. When asked to describe a particular nationality or nation, the response can be enthusiastic – “I support the Palestinians”; or hostile – “I oppose the Americans”. There is another response, the loftily aloof – “I’m above such petty nationalist concerns”. This view appears to rise above the fetishisation of national identity. Yet those who adopt this distanced attitude usually find others very easily give them a national identity, usually by virtue of the language, dialect, or even the accent they use.
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