Mar 23 2015

THE SCOTTISH LEFT PROJECT

Allan Armstrong (RCN and RIC activist) provides the following initial assessment of the proposed Scottish Left Project. This is the final part of three articles, the first of which examines the role of the UK state and SNP in attempting to derail Scotland’s ‘democratic revolution’ (see http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2015/02/24/british-unionists-and-scottish-nationalists-attempt-to-derail-scotlands-democratic-revolution/) and the second which looks at the inadequate response of the Left across these islands (see http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2015/03/16/the-left-in-the-uk-the-2015-general-election-campaign-and-the-wider-impact-of-scotlands-democratic-revolution/).

 

The Scottish Left Project (SLP) has been mooted in the context of the impact of Scotland’s ‘democratic revolution’, and the success of RIC as a movement within this. There is now a concerted effort by the unionist and nationalist parties to roll back this ‘democratic revolution’ [1]. Therefore, the success of the SLP will depend upon whether it takes up the baton bequeathed by these momentous events, or lets itself become a bit-player in others’ political projects.

 

a) the role of the International Socialist Group (ISG)

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As with RIC, the ISG has been the SLP’s prime mover. It is therefore useful to examine the way the ISG operated within RIC, to come to some better understanding of how it could see its role in the SLP.

Continue reading “THE SCOTTISH LEFT PROJECT”

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Mar 16 2015

THE LEFT IN THE UK, THE 2015 GENERAL ELECTION CAMPAIGN AND THE WIDER IMPACT OF SCOTLAND’S ‘DEMOCRATIC REVOLUTION’

After analysing the role of the constitutional nationalists of the SNP, the liberal and conservative unionists amongst  the Conservatives, Labour and Lib-Dems and the reactionary unionists led by UKIP, and their attempt to roll back Scotland’s ‘Democratic Revolution’ (http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2015/02/24/british-unionists-and-scottish-nationalists-attempt-to-derail-scotlands-democratic-revolution/), Allan Armstrong (RCN) examines the problematic role of the Left in the UK in challenging this.

 

 1. The UK constitutional issue will be central to the General Election campaign

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The continuing political impact of Scotland’s ‘democratic revolution’ [1] can be seen in the run-up to the May Westminster General Election. The Conservative Party has produced a Westminster General Election poster, which highlights the importance they give to the issue of the future of the UK. It conjures up a diabolic alliance between Ed Miliband, Alex Salmond and Gerry Adams (the latter two apparently pulling the strings behind-the-scenes, since Salmond now holds no post within the SNP leadership, and Adams sits in the Irish Dail [2]).

Continue reading “THE LEFT IN THE UK, THE 2015 GENERAL ELECTION CAMPAIGN AND THE WIDER IMPACT OF SCOTLAND’S ‘DEMOCRATIC REVOLUTION’”

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Jun 02 2013

Allan Armstrong (RCN) replies to David Jamieson (ISG) – part 2

Since I wrote the first part of my reply (http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2013/03/26/allan-armstrong-rcn-replies-to-david-jamieson-isg/) I have met David for the first time. Face-to-face discussions are a better way of trying to understand the thinking and positions that others hold. They can also help to overcome some preconceived notions. In the pub, after the joint ISG, ISN, RCN and September 15th group meeting on May 11th in Edinburgh, David raised some important questions, and pointed to some of the characteristics of contemporary society, which Socialists do need to address, if we are to move forward.

The RCN has been involved in organised discussions and debate with other Socialists, first in the hope these can lift our mutual understanding to a higher level and then lead to more effective wider political activity.

However, not all debates can be resolved in this way.  Real differences often still remain. These may even prove productive over the course of time, when the practical relevance of previously minority thinking becomes more apparent. Socialist organisations and campaigning coalitions, e.g. the Radical Independence Campaign (RIC), need to give scope for such discussions, because they may have considerable impact as the struggle progresses. Such discussions and debates also need to be real  – a contesting of positions actually held, not attacks on ‘straw men’, which have been so common on the Left.  I think that David would agree with such an approach.

We have often seen people on the Left attempting to avoid such debates. Instead, they emphasise the need for action now around immediate demands. This means that the development of the strategy and tactics necessary for any campaign are left to the ‘thinkers’ (usually a self-appointed celebrity leader and his immediate advisors, or some Central Committee). The rest of us remain mere ‘doers’, implementing the decisions of others or, where we do try to raise important issues of principle, we get dismissed as ‘moaners’ or ‘splitters’.

Even, when top-down led struggles appear to have been successful, they usually lead to new forms of domination or worse still, oppression, either under populist leaders or the Party-state. Such an approach is fundamentally anti-socialist. “The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself”. Our emancipation can come only about through a combination of both thought and action. We all need to be involved in both these activities if we wish to create a new society, which we can collectively control.

After these preliminary comments, I take up some of the other points which David has raised. First this reply provides clarification of possible remaining misunderstandings. Then it addresses the remaining differences, not covered in part 1 of my response to David.

Continue reading “Allan Armstrong (RCN) replies to David Jamieson (ISG) – part 2”

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May 09 2013

WOMEN AND SCOTTISH INDEPENDENCE

Alicia Arquera, a member of the International Socialist Group, gave this Introduction to a discussion on Women and Independence at the Edinburgh branch of the Radical Independence Campaign on April 29th. 

I just wanted to start by saying that I am pleased I am to have been asked to speak this evening on women and independence. I’ve been involved in the radical independence campaign since the conference of last year, and during that time I’ve felt slightly disheartened by the lack of discussion of issues that face women and the role of women in the campaign. Little discussion has been had on what a radical vision for Scotland could do for women’s liberation. But hopefully this evening we will outline some of the issues that need to be considered when thinking of a progressive Scotland.

My name is Alicia Arquera and I work as a support worker for women in the criminal justice system. I am not going to sit here and say that I am speaking for all women. I recognize that my reality is a different reality to a woman that is sitting in a three bedroomed council house in Craigmillar worrying about the bedroom tax, or a woman that is accepting minimum wage working as a care assistant in Leith.

Continue reading “WOMEN AND SCOTTISH INDEPENDENCE”

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Mar 26 2013

Allan Armstrong (RCN) replies to David Jamieson (ISG) – part 1

David Jamieson of the International Socialist Group has replied to two contributions made by Allan Armstrong of the Republican Communist Network (see http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2013/01/23/david-jamieson-of-the-the-isg-replies-to-allan-armstrong/). These took a critical look at ISG member, James Foley’s pamphlet, Britain Must Break, and examined the prospects for the Radical Independence Campaign, and the role of the ISG within it, following from  the successful conference held last November 24th in Glasgow. The RCN very much welcomes the ISG’s preparedness to enter into such debates in a considered and fraternal manner. 

There are a number of elements to David’s reply, which will be dealt with separately. However, the most immediate difference  arises over how the RIC should organise. Once some of David’s misunderstandings about what the RCN proposes are cleared up, then it may be possible to  agree on the  democratic form of organisation we all require. This could help  the ISG, RCN and other participants move the RIC forwards  to a higher political synthesis,  using people’s  varied contributions  and experiences. In doing so, the RIC would break with the sectarianism and opportunism which has characterised so much of the Left’s practice up until now. The current crisis in the SWP highlights the necessity for this.

Continue reading “Allan Armstrong (RCN) replies to David Jamieson (ISG) – part 1”

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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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Dec 20 2012

RADISSON BLU OR POST-RADISSON RED?

This blog has already commented on the earlier organising behind the Radical Independence Conference. It has also provided a fraternal critique of Britain Must Break, written by James Foley for the International Socialist Group (ISG), the organisation which initiated the RIC. Many others have commented on the conference itself (see end of articles below for links to these)

Below are posted two related articles. The first  examines the politics of the ISG and how these could  influence the future of the RIC. The second makes a comparison between the ISG (which has come out of the SWP tradition) and seeks to reunite the Left in Scotland, and the International Socialist Movement (which came from the CWI/Militant tradition) and sought to unite the Left through setting up the Scottish Socialist Party. Continue reading “RADISSON BLU OR POST-RADISSON RED?”

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Sep 16 2012

‘BRITAIN MUST BREAK’ TO DEFEND ‘REAL LABOUR’ or ‘THE BREAK-UP OF THE UK’ TO ADVANCE REPUBLICAN SOCIALISM?

Introduction

The Scottish government’s 2014 ‘independence’ referendum has produced a flurry of analysis and activity amongst the Left in Scotland. This has led several Socialist organisations to come together to promote the Radical Independence Conference (1) to be held in Glasgow on 24th November.  One of these organisations, the International Socialist Group (Scotland) (ISG) (2), has produced a pamphlet, Britain Must Break, written by James Foley, to explain its own thinking in adopting this course of action (3).

The RCN has already posted its own contributions to this debate online (4). We look forward to Socialist organisations’ assessments of our work in this regard. In the same spirit, we will comment on other Socialists’ contributions. Therefore, we welcome this pamphlet from James Foley and the ISG.

The purpose of this particular review and contribution is not to dismiss Britain Must Break from some ‘superior’ or ‘politically correct’ viewpoint, but to assess what is positive in it, to highlight areas where its arguments need to be further developed, but also to examine some possible false leads and dead-ends and to offer alternatives. By adopting such an overall approach, it is possible to see where the ISG’s pamphlet contributes to an independent working class perspective on the forthcoming referendum, or where it could pull the Scottish Left in other political directions.

Continue reading “‘BRITAIN MUST BREAK’ TO DEFEND ‘REAL LABOUR’ or ‘THE BREAK-UP OF THE UK’ TO ADVANCE REPUBLICAN SOCIALISM?”

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