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 unionist 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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Apr 07 2017

THE COMMONWEALTH OF ENGLAND

Steve Freeman of the Republican Socialist Alliance and the Left Unity Party draws on the revolutionary democratic political tradition in England, linking the Levellers, the Chartists and the Suffragettes. He outlines its strengths compared with the social democratic and economist political tradition of Labour and most of the British Left sects. Steve argues that Socialists should be championing the revolutionary democratic tradition today.

THE COMMONWEALTH OF ENGLAND

“Westminster? It’s old, defunct, a waste of time. I hate the place” – Mhairi Black MP *

Westminster does not look or work any better from the inside or the outside. In May 1991 Tony Benn MP proposed fundamental reform. He introduced the Commonwealth of Britain Bill in the House of Commons, intended to make Britain a federal republic. The current Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn MP seconded the Bill. The Bill’s first hurdle on the parliamentary road to a republic was to get permission from the Queen to submit it to the Commons. Then there has to be majorities in the Commons, Lords and then finally with the royal assent the Bill becomes law.
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Sep 09 2016

IRELAND EXITS UK

Steve Freeman of the Republican Socialist Alliance comments on the meeting on James Connolly and the 1916 Rising held by the Wakefield Socilaist History Group in the Red Shed on Saturday, September 3rd.

IRELAND EXITS UK

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Last Saturday the Wakefield Socialist History group held a very interesting and informative meeting on James Connolly and the 1916 Easter uprising. A range of speakers, Rayner O’Connor Lysaght, Allan Armstrong, Robin Stocks, Bernie McAdam and Adam Buick, highlighted different perspectives on these events.

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Aug 03 2016

IF NOT NOW, WHEN?

The RCN has been debating the EU referendum both amongst ourselves and in wider arenas.  Here Murdo Ritchie provides an argument in favour of voting ‘Leave’. This was first posted as a Comment after the article by Allan Armstrong at:- http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2016/07/03/an-open-letter-to-lexiters/

This is followed by an extensive commentary by Steve Freeman (RSA and LUP) 

1, IF NOT NOW – WHEN?

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Firstly, I was always clear about what the issues were in this Referendum. The issues in the forthcoming referendum have little to do with wider issues such as immigration, European unity, greater trade and economic co-operation, more mobility, and the right to work and study in other European countries, but are:-
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Jul 04 2016

JUNE 24th – THE FUKers’ BLACK FRIDAY OR RED FRIDAY FOR A EUROPEAN DEMOCRATIC REVOLUTION?

Allan Armstrong, who first became politically active in 1968, gives his political assessment of the political situation in the aftermath of the June 23d EU referendum.  Allan is on the Editorial Board of Emancipation & Liberation,  a supporter of the Republican Socialist Alliance, the Radical Independence Campaign and, in the ‘Spirit of 68’, a dissident member of the SSP and RISE.

The International Revolutionary Wave from 1968-75, encompassing the world from Vietnam to Paris, was contained. However, a group of socialists helped to put some new life into the possibility of a social order beyond the discredited models of Social Democracy and official Communism. Sadly today, we have one of 1968’s leading proponents, Tariq Ali, in his role as a prominent Lexiter, reacting to the situation created by the EU referendum more in the manner of the French CP in 1968, diverting a potential European Democratic Revolution on to the path of national reformism. Today this can only reinforce the Right across Europe.  However, others of Allan’s generation, including Bernadette Devlin/McAliskey, have seen a very different potential in the current situation.

It is to be hoped that the short-lived International Revolutionary Wave of 2011, encompassing the ‘Arab Spring’ and the Indignados of Greece and Spain, will prove to be a 1905 International Revolutionary Wave-style prelude to a new revolutionary wave. For the moment the 2011 wave has ebbed back to the communities of resistance in Palestine and Kobane, and to the electoralism of Syriza and Podemos.  

Allan’s contribution is based on a talk he gave at the Edinburgh RISE circle on June 28th and has been extended, updated and written in the form of an appeal from a member of the 1968 generation to those of the new young 2011 generation. 

(* FUKers are supporters of a ‘Free UK’. They stretch from the Fascist and Loyalist Far Right, through the Right populist UKIP to the reactionary Right Tories.)

AFTER JUNE 24th – THE FUKers’* BLACK FRIDAY or RED FRIDAY FOR A EUROPE’S DEMOCRATIC REVOLUTION

Migrant Solidarity Network march in Edinburgh oransised after Brexit vote on June 24th

The 500 strong Migrant Solidarity Network march in Edinburgh on June 24th  the same day as the Brexit vote  24th

 

The significance of Friday June 24th
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Mar 02 2016

THE UK STATE AND BRITISHNESS

 

This article, written by Allan Armstrong (RCN) in 2015, has now been updated to include a new section 3 on Scotland. It has been moved from its earlier site.

Section A –  The UK State and Britishness

Section B –  From the Irish-British and ‘Ulster’-British ‘Insider’ to the Irish ‘Racialised’ and ‘Ethno-Religious Outsider’ to the new ‘National Outsider’

Section C – Britishness, the UK State, Unionism, Scotland and the ‘National Outsider’ 

 

A. THE UK STATE AND BRITISHNESS

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Introduction

The purpose of this article is to examine the concept of the national outsider in relation to Britishness, for the people of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. This has been done through the further development of the concept of the outsider used in Satnam Virdee’s significant book Racism, Class and the Racialised Outsider [1]. Here he outlines the creation of the racialised outsider [2]. Mary Davis’ earlier, but also significant, Comrade or Brother? A History of the British Labour Movement (3),  wrote, in effect, about the gendered outsider, without using the term.

The first part of this article will look at the historically changing position of racialised and gendered outsiders in the UK before the second and third parts address the changing position of the national outsider. Here it will be shown how the post-war British Labour government provided widely accepted ‘insider’ Britishness status for those who held hybrid Scottish and Welsh and ‘Ulster’ British identities. This though excluded the Catholic Irish living in Northern Ireland, giving a continued basis for an Irish nationalist politics based on the Irish national outsider. For a brief period in the 1960s the development of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Movement raised the possibility of widening the sectarian nationality-based ‘Ulster’-Britishness to create a new more inclusive Northern Ireland-Britishness, However,  an alliance of the Ulster Unionism, Loyalism and the UK state  thwarted this, leading to the re-emergence of a reinvigorated Irish republicanism, which drew support from those still treated as national outsiders by the UK state.

Furthermore, in the context of a  continued imperial decline of the UK, the 1960s saw the existing Scottish-British and Welsh-British identities becoming more effectively challenged. This led to a prolonged attempt by the liberal wing of the British ruling class to try to democratise these identities within a political framework of Devolution. The failure of the Sunningdale Agreement in the face of reactionary unionism, and the 1979 Scottish and Welsh Devolution Bills through conservative unionist opposition, followed later by the lukewarm liberal unionist nature of the 1997 ‘Devolution-all-round’ settlement, have contributed to the emergence of significant numbers of Scottish and Welsh national outsiders in relation to the UK state, whilst still not fully integrating the previous Irish national outsiders. Today, the apparent inability of the UK state, with its strong conservative unionist, and growing reactionary unionist forces, to sustain a more widely supported political settlement has led considerably greater numbers to reject any notion of ‘Britishness’, particularly in Scotland.

 

1) The notion of ‘outsider’ and ‘toleration’ in relation to the role of the UK state in creating and maintaining Britishness

In some ways the position of black people in the UK from the late eighteenth century, addressed in Virdee’s book, represents an updated version of the toleration that appeared in the early days of capitalist development. This toleration was extended both to religious and ethnic minorities who performed a significant economic role within certain states. Such toleration was found in some city-states, e.g. Venice [4]and then in some mercantile capitalist states, e.g. the Netherlands, England, then the UK. These states produced regulations and developed practices that altered the status of those they tolerated, either for better or worse.
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Sep 01 2015

JEREMY CORBYN AND THE RE-EMERGENCE OF SOCIAL DEMOCRACY

Steve Freeman of the Republican Socialist Alliance, who stood as a socialist republican and anti-Unionist candidate in Bermondsey in the General Election, makes his political assessment of the Corbyn campaign for the leadership of the Labour Party.

 

JEREMY CORBYN AND THE RE-EMERGENCE OF SOCIAL DEMOCRACY

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The fall and rise of Social Democracy and the re-division of the left

The incredible and unbelievable arrival of the movement to elect Jeremy Corbyn MP to be leader of the Labour Party has taken all the left by surprise. It is a happy shock and one to welcome. Its impact is yet to become clear but no doubt it will have a significant impact on socialist movement. The Corbyn movement should not be seen as an isolated event but as part of a chain of events which reflect the course of the class struggle.
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Jul 26 2015

THEIR ROYAL HEILNESSES

Category: Against Unionism,UK state/British imperialismRCN @ 8:47 pm

John Tummon of the Republican Socialist Alliance has written a response to  The Sun‘s revelations about a photograph from 1933 showing Zeig Heiling royals. This is a slightly edited version.

 

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THEIR ROYAL HEILNESSES

Robert Lacey (aka Lackey), a serial Monarchist apologist, was on Radio 4 on the 20th July arguing that, and I kid you not, because the British Monarchy “goes back to Alfred the Great and the mists of time”, they are a private family and therefore entitled to absolute privacy and should not have to divulge the content of their archives.
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Jun 27 2015

THE 2015 GENERAL ELECTION AND THE NEXT STEPS FOR REPUBLICAN SOCIALISM

The RCN and Republican Socialists (Scotland) gave their backing to Steve Freeman who stood as a republican socialist and anti-unionist candidate in Bermondsey in the General Election. Here we are posting Steve’s political assessment of the campaign.

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Introduction

This paper will not address the important question of what is ‘Republican Socialism’ beyond identifying it as the “republican road to socialism” which puts the issue of democracy at the heart of working class politics. This stands in contrast to the dominant idea in the UK and especially England of a “British road to Socialism”. The next steps here are mainly focused on London and do not address how Republican Socialists in the rest of the UK can use our election campaign to advance our common cause.
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May 11 2015

AFTER MAY 7th

Emancipation & Liberation will be posting a series of responses to the new political situation after May 7th. The first comes from Murdo Ritchie (RCN), the second from World to Win.

 

1. MOVING WITH THE FLOW

 

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Never have so many nations been divided by a common government. The glaringly obvious result when Scotland voted 56 of its 59 MPs, is similar to Wales where the Labour Party won. The Unionist alliance in Northern Ireland also won, but although this may seem like a continuation of the Tory party it resembles the nationalist parties in their lust for more Westminster cash, even condemning the so-called “bedroom tax”. The Tories won almost the entire South of England removing the Liberal Democrats almost completely from the West Country.
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