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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Apr 12 2016

A POLITICAL COMPARISON BETWEEN THE 2012-14 SCOTTISH INDEPENDENCE AND THE 2016 EU REFERENDA CAMPAIGNS

 

Allan Armstrong (RCN) has written a second piece on the forthcoming EU referendum. This is a contribution to the debate in the RCN and the wider Left. Allan has spoken on this issue at the RIC national conference (Feb. 20th), SSP National Council (28th Feb) and the Glasgow Assembly for Democracy (2nd April).

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A POLITICAL COMPARISON BETWEEN THE 2012-14 SCOTTISH INDEPENDENCE  AND THE 2016 EU REFERENDA CAMPAIGNS

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a) The politics of TINA – There is no alternative

A common accusation made by ‘No’ advocates during the Scottish Independence referendum was that support for Scottish independence or the SNP, and for withdrawal from the EU or UKIP, are but mirror images of each other. They have argued that both are based on atavistic nationalism.
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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

THE IMPACT OF REACTIONARY UNIONISM ON UK POLITICS

In the struggle over the future of the UK, the main battle is being conducted between the SNP pushing for a liberal unionist ‘Devo-Max’ agenda (looking for support from a possibly Corbyn-led Labour Party, Plaid Cymru and the Greens) and the conservative unionist alliance led by David Cameron, with the tacit acceptance of  ‘One Nation’ Labour and the Lib-Dems. However, there is a third unionist force, the reactionary unionists consisting of UKIP, the Tory Right and Ulster unionists, backed by the loyalists.

The following two articles from Socialist Democracy (Ireland) cover recent events which show the impact of reactionary unionism in the ‘Six Counties’. Here, reactionary unionism continues to make political advances, seeking to undermine the Good Friday Agreement (GFA). These articles show how Sinn Fein’s acceptance of a liberal-unionist road to Irish unity through the devolved institutions of the UK state (i.e. Stormont) is looking increasingly like a dead-end. The UK state is using the threat posed by reactionary unionism to dictate the political direction of events, even threatening to evict Sinn Fein from the post-GFA political set-up, if it does not fully cooperate. As the first article shows, the killing of Kevin McGuigan is the latest stick being used to attack Sinn Fein.

Reactionary unionism can not be ignored over here, because UKIP, in particular, seeks to use Northern Ireland as a model of how to undermine the current liberal unionist ‘Devolution-all-round’ political settlement, the better to clamp down on any more radical alternatives. And when the chips are down, conservative and even liberal unionists will also turn to reactionary unionism for support. Glasgow Labour Council’s current flirtations with the Orange Order and other loyalists are just one indiction of this.  

The forthcoming European referendum will largely be fought on conservative unionist (Cameron and his Labour and Lib-Dem allies from the old ‘Better Together’ alliance) versus reactionary unionist (UKIP and the Tory Right) terms. The prospect of the ‘Six Counties’ breaking their current links with the 26 Counties within the EU is a particularly enticing prospect for reactionary unionists and loyalists. They want to turn the clock back and reintroduce old-style Partition.  

As republican socialists we need to mount our own ‘internationalism from below’ alliance covering not only Scotland, England, Wales and the whole of Ireland, to counter the threat of  reactionary and conservative unionism and the limitations of liberal unionism. This needs to be extended to bring together the European Left to defend migrant workers and asylum seekers, targeted both by the reactionary and conservative unionists, with minimal opposition from liberal unionists.

 

1) THE KILLING OF KEVIN McGUIGAN – DON’T SPECULATE

The Stormont road to a united Ireland?

The Stormont road to a united Ireland?

In October 2013 Kevin Kearney was shot dead in North Belfast by an anti-agreement republican group. Immediately after the killing Gerry Kelly of Sinn Fein identified the group responsible and provided detailed information about the background.
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Apr 20 2015

REPUBLICANISM AND DEMOCRACY

Allan Armstrong (RCN) was invited to speak on Republicanism and Democracy  at the Assembly for Democracy event in Glasgow on Saturday, April 11th. He gave an update of the talk at the first Radical Independence Conference in Glasgow in November 2012 (see http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2012/11/15/genuine-self-determination-means-acting-as-republicans-now/

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Allan Armstrong speaking at the Glasgow Assembly for Democracy

 

Most of the discussions today we have been having today have been about bringing democracy into our own campaigns and developing an opposition to the ongoing British ruling class offensive.

However, as one contributor to the debate has already said, ‘democracy’ is one of the most promiscuous terms to be found in politics. Indeed, the British ruling class likes to claim that “Westminster is the mother of parliaments”, with the implication that it represents a deeply rooted democratic tradition. So it is worth taking a closer look at this Westminster, based on the political notion of the ‘Crown in parliament’.
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Feb 24 2015

ROLLING BACK SCOTLAND’S ‘DEMOCRATIC REVOLUTION’

Allan Armstrong (RCN) updates his socialist republican analyses of constitutional developments in the UK and Ireland, in the led up to the May 2015 Westminster election.

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ROLLING BACK SCOTLAND’S ‘DEMOCRATIC REVOLUTION’

1. British unionists and Scottish nationalists attempt to derail Scotland’s ‘democratic revolution’

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There are several important features to the political landscape we can currently see in Scotland and the wider UK. One key feature is the shock that the ‘Yes’ campaign gave to the British ruling class and, in particular, to their representatives in the mainstream unionist parties.

The referendum campaign had conjured up a ‘democratic revolution’, beyond either the control of Westminster or Holyrood. Voter registration was 97% and voter participation was 85%. Scotland experienced a wave of public meetings, canvassing, street stalls and cultural events, along with a huge volume of electronic correspondence and face-to-face conversations throughout the campaigning period.

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Feb 07 2015

STORMONT HOUSE DEAL

Below are two articles from the latest edition of Socialist Democracy (Ireland). They provide an account and analysis of the Stormont House Deal between the UK government and the DUP/Sinn Fein coalition in Stormont over the implementation of Westminster imposed cuts, against the background of threats to stand down Stormont.   (http://www.socialistdemocracy.org/Bulletins/SDBulletinJan2015StormontHouseDeal.html and www.socialistdemocracy.org/Bulletins/SDBulletinJan2015SectarianismAndAusterityTwinPillarsOfReaction.html)

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1. STORMONT HOUSE DEAL – Twin hammers to smash the workers

There is no disguising the calamity facing workers in the North. Benefits for the poor and sick are to be slashed. Thousands of public sector jobs are to go and the services themselves cut back. Public resources are to be auctioned off. The plan means terrible suffering – much greater than that in Britain because it will be applied in a shorter timescale in a situation where there is little local industry and levels of poverty are already very high.

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Dec 04 2014

EMANCIPATION & LIBERATION RIC 2014 conference special magazine

We are posting the two lead articles from Emancipation & Liberation, issue no. 23, produced for the 3000 strong Radical Independence Campaign conference held in Glasgow, in the Clydeside Auditorium on Saturday, November 22nd. The first is by Murdo Ritchie (RCN), the second by Allan Armstrong (RCN).

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WHEN DECADES HAPPEN – AFTER THE REFERENDUM

 

“There are decades in which nothing happens and there are weeks in which decades happen.” Lenin

When 1,517,989 voters (44.7%) declared they were prepared to abandon their primary, legal national identity to build a better Scotland, it was clear that Scottish national independence was coming. The defeated felt triumphant; the victorious worried.

Prime Minister David Cameron’s statement on the morning of the ballot declaration was filled with wishful thinking, “the debate has settled for a generation or as Alex Salmond has said, perhaps for a lifetime. So there can be no disputes, no re-runs –we have heard the settled will of the Scottish people.” The media may have declared the result decisive but the numbers and mood told otherwise.

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Oct 11 2014

AFTER THE SEPTEMBER 18th REFERENDUM VOTE – A socialist republican response

In the aftermath of the September 18th Scottish independence referendum, Allan Armstrong(RCN) updates his  earlier piece (http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2014/09/03/up-to-and-beyond-the-september-18th-independence-referendum-a-socialist-republican-perspective/).

 

A Movement-in-the-making

The campaign for Scottish independence has been the largest movement for popular democracy seen in these islands since the Irish War of Independence. In terms of electoral participation it was unprecedented. Voter registration was 97% and voter turnout was 85%.

The ‘Yes’ alliance faced the biggest ruling class offensive, backed by the UK state, since the Miners’ Strike. Only this time it brought together the combined Tory/Lib-Dem/Labour ‘Better Together’ ‘No’ alliance, UKIP, Ulster unionists, the Orange Order, other Loyalists, British fascists, the BBC, the Pope and the Free Presbyterian Church, and the US and Chinese governments!

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Sep 12 2014

BETTER TOGETHER, UKIP, THE ORANGE ORDER AND THE UK STATE – What they have in common

Allan Armstrong (RCN) digs a little deeper into the provocations being mounted by UKIP and the Orange Order on the weekend (12-13th September) before the Scottish independence referendum.

 

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You’re dead right about that, Nigel!

This weekend the people of Scotland face the double whammy of Nigel Farage, leader of UKIP and the Orange Order, in their bid to save the Union. Farage is holding his ‘pro-Union’ rally in Glasgow tonight. The Orange Order is marching to support ‘British Together’ tomorrow in Edinburgh. The two events are not unrelated.

‘Better Together’ have tried to distance themselves from UKIP and the Orange Order. However, both UKIP and the Orange Order draw much of their sustenance from the most reactionary features of the UK state, which ‘Better Together’ also defends.  These consist of the monarchy and the anti-democratic Crown Powers, the established Protestant establishment, the Union brought about by conquest or intimidation, the British imperial tradition with its legacy of countless wars, Trident and of course its symbol – the Union Jack, known in much of the world, with very good reason, as the ‘butchers’ apron’.

The SNP government has not broken with all these features of the UK state. However, the referendum vote this Thursday is not for the SNP, but for the chance to create a politically independent Scotland. All those thousands of people, who have been mobilised throughout Scotland, in the biggest campaign for democracy seen in the UK since the Irish War of Independence, can become part of a wider campaign for a social, secular and democratic Scottish republic. A ‘Yes’ vote opens up that opportunity. Amongst those registered for the Yes campaign are the Radical Independence Campaign, the Scottish Socialist Party, the Greens and Women for Independence.

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