Nov 25 2013



The RCN received the unanimous backing of  the Edinburgh branch of RIC to ask the  RIC National Steering Committee to organise a session at the second national RIC conference on November 23rd in Glasgow, entitled ‘The break-up of the UK – the case for ‘internationalism from below’’. This was then unanimously agreed by the Steering Committee, subject to availability of speakers and any modifications required by the overall conference programme. In the event, the session was renamed ‘After the UK: the future for 4 nations’.

The initial choice of speaker for Ireland was agreed to be Bernadette McAliskey, and for Wales, Leanne Wood, a republican and the president of Plaid Cymru. Leanne initially indicated her interest, but later had to give her apologies because the conference clashed with a Plaid Cymru event, which also meant that a substitute speaker could not be arranged. Steve Freeman of the Republican Socialist Alliance was also proposed as a speaker for England, and after the organisers’  consideration this was also agreed. The organisers were left to arrange a speaker for Scotland. In the meantime, Mary McGregor (RCN and Dundee RIC) was proposed to chair the session. Later the organisers came back and, in the interest of preserving gender balance, transferred Mary to speak on Scotland. Tony Kenny, a republican and former SNP member and council candidate was asked to chair the meeting instead.

Below we provide a video link which shows Bernadette’s contribution to this session. After this we provide both videos  and the full texts of Steve Freeman’s and Mary McGregor’s contributions (which was slightly curtailed because of time considerations).

This is followed by a reply to David Torrance’s report of the conference in The Herald.

Videos by Patricia Kirk and John Lanigan


Bernadette McAliskey, Mary McGregor, Steve Freeman and Allan Armstrong at the RIC conference

Bernadette McAliskey, Mary McGregor, Steve Freeman and Allan Armstrong at the RIC conference




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Aug 05 2002

A Healthy Constitution?

Category: Emancipation & Liberation,Issue 03RCN @ 12:49 pm

Duncan Rowan, the SSP’s North East Organiser, raises concerns at the outcome of the SSP’s Special Conference on the party’s constitution

Conferences, special or otherwise, have always struck me as slightly pointless affairs. All that passion, preparation and rhetoric spent upon an audience, 90% of whom arrived that morning knowing exactly how they were going to vote. To me a conference is the last stage of a debate, the formal counting of hands to get a yea or nay, the actual arguments are won or lost in the weeks or months leading up to the actual vote. After checking out who’s turned up on the day, any reasonably informed comrade can tell you with a high degree of accuracy exactly how every conference votes going to go. To be honest most of conference business could be carried out by post, with no noticeable effect upon the result. But every so often, just often enough to make the whole shebang worthwhile, a issue comes along where the balance of forces within the party is close enough that the 10% undecided on the day are pivotal, where debate does effect the outcome, when the result of a vote is anybody’s guess.

At the special conference in June both of these experiences of SSP conferences were on full display, the crushingly predicable and the genuinely exciting and uncertain. Apart from the relief of finally, after almost three years of on/off discussion, deciding that our logo would remain the same – the conference was devoted to two matters, our position in the looming Euro referendum and a revised constitution for the party. Neither issue seemed to grip the party’s wide membership, a fact reflected in the turnout on the day – around 140 delegates. This was less than half who attended the February annual conference in Dundee, and based on a membership of 2,500 just a fifth of a theoretical full delegate conference.

Whilst the timing and location of the conference may partly explain the low attendance, the nature and issues up for debate were never going to be a crowd puller. The Euro debate was widely seen, correctly as was the case, as a done deal – the no vote inevitable.

More worryingly the revised constitution failed to stir any mass debate. It is inevitable that in a party committed to class action that there is a tendency to regard constitutional matters as mildly irrelevant, boring but necessary and best left to the hacks. But this is a tendency, which must be fought; democracy is the oxygen of socialism. Without a healthy and robust internal democracy the SSP will prove to be incapable of tasks we’ve set ourselves, doomed to join the ever-growing list of socialist parties who have degenerated into sects or fallen into opportunism and reformism. What a constitution says and how it is applied are amongst the first indicators of the health of any party. A lack of interest in what may seem like constitutional niceties, whilst not a terminal sign is still cause for concern.

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