Jan 10 2020

SECTARIAN INTIMIDATION IN NORTH BELFAST

North Belfast has been a long standing area of sectarian intimidation. Until December 12th it was represented by the DUP’s Nigel Dodds who joined up with the hard core Loyalists at the  ‘Stop the {Brexit} Betrayal Act – Defend the Union’ meeting in Belfast’s Ulster Hall on December 6th. Like Emma Little-Pengelly, his fellow Loyalist paramilitary flirting  DUP MP for South Belfast, he lost his seat. There  is now increased pressure to  reconstitute the Northern Ireland Executive. This article first posted by Socialist Democracy (Ireland) shows how, even if this happens, such sectarian intimidation will just be brushed under the carpet. 

 

SECTARIAN INTIMIDATION IN NORTH BELFAST

 

A frantic drive is on to reopen the local Stormont administration.  The British and Irish governments, the political parties, civic society and the trade union leadership all assure us that this is the road to peace and prosperity.

As talks get underway one issue that will not be discussed is the December attacks in the Ballysillan area of Belfast aimed at intimidating Catholic families who had been allocated homes in the area by the Choice housing association. Windows were smashed, KAT (Kill All Taigs) was scrawled on the wall and a paramilitary flag hung outside a bedroom window.

There was more of a fuss than usual when it was discovered that local Democratic Unionist Party councillor Dale Pankhurst had contacted the housing association to express “concerns”.  Pankhurst said that he had spoken to the association but not to the police because the concerns were not linked to intimidation. Details then emerged of an earlier post by the councillor where he advocated “local homes for local people”.  An associate of the DUP parliamentary candidate Nigel Dodds, a loyalist with a criminal record, later posted a sectarian attack on one of the victims.

The police are looking into the matter.

The thing is, they didn’t take down the flag!

The police have decided that flags are “an ecumenical matter” and won’t touch them even when their real function – sectarian intimidation – is unmistakable.  This incident is the latest in a long line of sectarian incidents where loyalists have declared housing apartheid and enforced it with ethnic cleansing.  Ballysillan estate saw a round of sectarian evictions just a year ago.

There is much to investigate. How did information about the prospective tenants reach the loyalists? In the background the old state housing system is being run down while the new housing associations facilitate both privatisation and the continuance of housing apartheid. Why the open links between the DUP and the loyalist paramilitaries are ignored and why are loyalists able to operate, not only with a great deal of impunity, but often with funding from the state?

The thing is, that’s the way it was when the last Stormont was running. Low level ongoing preservation of loyalist territory was not a problem for the administration nor a source of friction for Sinn Fein. The Good Friday Agreement did not guarantee human rights, it guaranteed communal rights. Sinn Fein’s concern was for equality, that is, that they get a share of housing control and patronage in their areas.

In the aftermath of the general election there are new attempts to form a new Executive in the North. Ending ethnic cleansing is not even an item on the agenda.

This is the reality of the prospective “new” settlement.  This is what the middle classes, business representatives and the trade union leadership demand in the interests of stability. This tacit agreement to ignore ethnic cleansing is what the working class should fight against and is the reason that any new administration will be just as unstable as the last one.

17 December 2019

This article was first posted at:- http://www.socialistdemocracy.org/RecentArticles/RecentSectarianIntimidationInNorthBelfast.html

 

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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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Nov 04 2019

BREXIT MARK 2 – BORIS DISPELS THE FOG TO REVEAL CLASS WAR – an Irish perspective

Many both on the Left and amongst the Irish and Scottish nationalists have welcomed the break between the Tories and the DUP, following Boris Johnson’s perceived cave in before the EU, over the border. They believe that the road to Iris reunification is now open. This article from Socialist Democracy (Ireland) argues from a much more cautionary stance.

 

BREXIT MARK 2 – BORIS DISPELS THE FOG TO REVEAL CLASS WAR

– an Irish perspective

 

Boris addresses DUP conference during his now abandoned ‘No Surrender’ days.

 

Over the years of the  Brexit campaign the Tory leadership have been careful to avoid any explanation of the goals of the project. One element,  anti-migrant sentiment and racism, was already in progress following Theresa May’s former leadership of the Home office. For the rest, democracy was defined as never questioning the thin majority of the Brexit vote. For May, “Brexit means Brexit”. Johnston’s mantra was “get it done”. Now the proposals put forward by Boris Johnson are finally beginning to clarify the details of the class divisions on which the process is built. Continue reading “BREXIT MARK 2 – BORIS DISPELS THE FOG TO REVEAL CLASS WAR – an Irish perspective”

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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

A NATION ONCE AGAIN?

There has been a lot of  talk recently about the inevitability of a united Ireland after a ‘No Deal’ Brexit. This article from Socialist Democracy (Ireland) provides a more cautionary note.

A NATION ONCE AGAIN?

Dream and reality in the United Ireland discourse

 

 

What do you learn when Irish nationalist sources start to pontificate about the inevitability of a united Ireland? The first thing you learn is that the forces involved have no new ideas or a new strategy for achieving their aim.  The second is that they urgently want to distract attention from their own sheer incapacity.  The torrent of output about this issue today speaks volumes about the weakness of the various currents. Continue reading “A NATION ONCE AGAIN?”

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Aug 30 2019

It’s the constitution stupid – After the Boris ‘coup’ let’s fUK it!

Allan Armstrong gives his response to the latest constitutional crisis hitting the UK state

 

It’s the constitution stupid – After the Boris ‘coup’ let’s fUK it!

 

Contents

  1. A constitutional and legal coup under Crown-in-Westminster sovereignty
  2. The UK’s growing constitutional crisis, the retreat of neo-liberalism and liberal unionism and the growth of right populism and reactionary unionism
  3. The continued rise of right national populism and the hard right in the UK
  4. The May 23rd Euro-elections – Farage’s right populist victory paves the way for the hard right take-over of the Tory Party
  5. The asymmetric polarisation of UK politics
  6. From Maybynism to Borisbynism? – Labour’s role in helping to move official politics to the right
  7. Neo-liberal attempts to turn back the right populist challenge over Brexit
  8. The right and centre Remainers take politics to the streets
  9. The Lexiters’ (and Irexiters’) economism and abstract propagandism
  10. The emergence of left Remainers, Another Europe Is Possible, and their turn to the streets
  11. Conclusions

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  1. A constitutional and legal coup under Crown-in-Westminster sovereignty

The decision taken by Boris Johnson and his backers  to prorogue Westminster on the 28th August represents the culmination of a prolonged constitutional crisis, which began with the Scottish independence referendum between 2012-14, and has been accelerating in the aftermath of the Brexit vote in 2016. Today we have liberals (in all the mainstream British parties), and even some conservatives, bemoaning  the unconstitutional and illegal nature of the decision taken by the unelected prime minister, Johnson, along with privy councillor, Jacob Rees-Mogg (Tory MP representing the eighteenth century), and the unelected head of state, queen Elizabeth. However, the UK state, based on the sovereignty of the Crown in Westminster, with its armoury of anti-democratic Crown Powers, gives enormous power to the dominant section of the British ruling class. Proroguing parliament is both constitutional and legal. Continue reading “It’s the constitution stupid – After the Boris ‘coup’ let’s fUK it!”

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Aug 05 2019

LOYALIST BONFIRE VICTORY IN BELFAST

Socialist Democracy (Ireland) reports on the latest UK state accommodation to Loyalism, during their annual Belfast bonfire rituals.

 

LOYALIST BONFIRE VICTORY IN BELFAST

Can this be compensated for by dreams of a future modernity?

 

 

In the aftermath of the paramilitary victory at a Belfast “11th night” bonfire, correspondents were quick to spread an emollient salve over the bruised egos of sections of the middle class.

Following UVF threats and the leaking of the names of private contractors charged with dismantling an illegal bonfire in the car pack of a local council leisure centre, police and council workers withdrew and triumphant loyalists went ahead with their bonfire. Continue reading “LOYALIST BONFIRE VICTORY IN BELFAST”

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Apr 15 2019

BRITISH GOVERNMENT EXPANDS POWERS IN THE NORTH

The following article from Socialist Democracy (Ireland) highlights the impact of the reactionary unionism in Northern Ireland.  The Good Friday Agreement,  with its official  recognition of Unionists and Nationalists in a reformed Stormont, acted as liberal mask for the continued sectarian order in Northern Ireland. This placed the UK government in the position of ‘neutral’ arbiter, the better to ensure its continued rule. With the DUP now in alliance with May’s post-Brexit vote Conservative government, reactionary unionists see no need to maintain the liberal facade. Growing UK centralisation of power was always a central feature of Brexit, and its implications are not confined to Ireland.

 

 

BRITISH GOVERNMENT EXPANDS POWERS IN THE NORTH

A common myth regarding the northern state is that it has been without a government since the Stormont Assembly and executive collapsed in early 2017.  Accompanying this is the claim every that every ill in society (from sectarian intimidation to a failing health service) is down to (or at the very least made worse) by the absence of devolved government.  What usually follows from this is a call for Stormont to be restored as a means to bring about some improvement.  This is a call that is made unambiguously and unconditionally by the trade unions. It is also a call that is made by the left groups (albeit dressed up in rhetoric about fighting austerity or securing civil rights). The underlying assumptions here are that the political institutions brought into existence by the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) can shield the working class to some degree or even be a vehicle for reforms. Continue reading “BRITISH GOVERNMENT EXPANDS POWERS IN THE NORTH”

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Feb 19 2019

BREXIT AND WHAT IT MEANS IN IRELAND

The E&L blog  has been reporting the situation in Ireland since we started up. However, during  current Brexit negotiations , the  ‘backstop’ has pushed the issue of Northern Ireland to the fore. We are publishing two articles which share a lot in common in their analysis of Ireland, but which offer differing perspectives on the role of the EU. The first is written by David Jamieson and first appeared on the Commonspace blog. The second is written by Allan Armstrong and forms the seventh chapter of his new pamphlet From Blatcherism to Maybynism.

 

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  1. ANALYSIS – MICRO-POLITICS ISN’T ENOUGH – WE MUST ADDRESS

THE  PARTITION OF IRELAND

 

Debates around the UK border in Ireland and the so called ‘backstop’ bring the crisis elements of the British state into sharper focus. Continue reading “BREXIT AND WHAT IT MEANS IN IRELAND”

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Jan 31 2019

CORBYN, LABOUR AND THE TORIES’ IMMIGRATION BILL – A dialogue

This is a new dialogue over the consequences of Brexit following the Corbyn-led Labour Party helping Theresa May get the second reading of the Tories’ Immigration Bill through on Wednesday 29th January

see an earlier dialogue at:-

FROM FARAGE’S BREXIT TO TRUMP’S “BREXIT PLUS, PLUS, PLUS”, AND ON TO ‘MADAME FREXIT’?

This dialogue came about in response to a posting Allan Armstrong made on the Republican Socialist Alliance list. It was also taken up by Phil Vellender (Editorial Board of The Chartist) on his Facebook page.

Continue reading “CORBYN, LABOUR AND THE TORIES’ IMMIGRATION BILL – A dialogue”

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