Feb 25 2018

THE END OF THE ROAD – THE COLLAPSE OF THE NORTHERN IRELAND EXECUTIVE

 

Socialist Democracy (Ireland) have posted two articles  the following  the collapse of the Northern Ireland Executive. These were first posted at:- 

http://socialistdemocracy.org/RecentArticles/RecentIrishSettlementFoundersOnTheRockOfLanguageRights.html http://socialistdemocracy.org/RecentArticles/RecentClassPoliticsVersusModernity.html

 

1. THE END OF THE ROAD 

THE IRISH SETTLEMENT FOUNDERS ON THE ROCK OF LANGUAGE RIGHTS

When Sinn Fein collapsed the Stormont executive in early 2017 they put forward a very simple case. The Irish peace process was based on legal documents and international treaties and on a series of agreements and promises that had constantly been broken. If the process and the institutions were to survive it was time to live up to the existing agreements before moving on. This involved resolving state killings, reducing sectarian provocations, and accepting a level of gay rights such as gay marriage and an Irish Language Act. Continue reading “THE END OF THE ROAD – THE COLLAPSE OF THE NORTHERN IRELAND EXECUTIVE”

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Dec 10 2017

BOMBARDIER-BOEING DISPUTE THREATENS WORKERS IN THE NORTH

Bombardier is a Canadian owned aircraft company which employs 4000 people in Belfast. At the moment these workers’ jobs, pay and conditions  are threatened as an outcome  of growing American protectionism, reflected through the Northern Irish political set-up, which hamstrings any effective trade union response. This consequences of this are explained in this article from Socialist Democracy (Ireland) 

 

BOMBARDIER-BOEING DISPUTE THREATENS WORKERS IN NORTH

 

Bombardier aerospace factory Belfast

 

The ongoing dispute between aerospace companies Bombardier and Boeing – which has raised fears over future of production at Bombardier’s Belfast facility – has served to highlight the highly integrated nature of modern capitalism and the exposure of the Northern Ireland economy to global upheavals. Continue reading “BOMBARDIER-BOEING DISPUTE THREATENS WORKERS IN THE NORTH”

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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.
Continue reading “WHICH WAY NOW – ‘BREXIT’ OR ‘EX-BRIT’?”

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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.
Continue reading “THE UK STATE AND BRITISHNESS”

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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.

Continue reading “ROLLING BACK SCOTLAND’S ‘DEMOCRATIC REVOLUTION’”

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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.

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

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Sep 03 2014

UP TO AND BEYOND THE SEPTEMBER 18th INDEPENDENCE REFERENDUM – A socialist republican perspective

Allan Armstrong (RCN) has written an account of the Scottish independence campaign since the SNP launched its official ‘Yes Scotland’ campaign in 2012 up until the last two weeks before the September 18th referendum. This is based on several contributions Allan has already made on this blog. It is also a contemporary update of his historical piece, The Making and the Breaking of the UK State (http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2012/01/11/internationalism-from-below-2/). This article also looks at the possibilities beyond September 18th.

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UP TO AND BEYOND THE SEPTEMBER 18th INDEPENDENCE REFERENDUM – A socialist republican response

 

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a)                   The Scottish independence referendum – not an exercise by the UK of the right of self-determination

b)                   The SNP leadership’s strategy

c)                   Cameron’s strategy pushes Labour into the frontline of the defence of the Union in Scotland, whilst he controls things at a UK level

d)                   Attempts to widen the political base of support for the Union

e)                   The new challenge to social liberalism and the ‘New Unionist’ settlement from UKIP, the Tory Right, the Ulster Unionists and Loyalists

f)                    Enter the unexpected – a new movement from below

g)                   The lack of class confidence underpins both official campaigns and the inherited weaknesses of the Left affect RIC too

h)                  After September 18th

 

a)         The Scottish independence referendum – not an exercise by the UK of the right of self-determination

Continue reading “UP TO AND BEYOND THE SEPTEMBER 18th INDEPENDENCE REFERENDUM – A socialist republican perspective”

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Jun 10 2014

CULTURAL CAPITULATION AND CULTURAL RESISTANCE IN IRELAND

Below are two articles from the May/June issue of Socialist Democracy (Ireland) about recent cultural developments in Ireland. The Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) has always been seen as being on the cultural frontline of the Irish national movement. The first article outlines the retreat of the GAA in the  face of Sky TV’s global corporate onslaught. The gombeen capitalists referred to in this article are Irish  small wheeler-dealing businessmen always looking to a fast buck and ready to trample over others. They have traditionally formed the Right wing of the Irish national movement.

The second article provides an example of cultural resistance in Belfast. In this city, the Irish language emerged as a weapon if resistance in the ‘Jailtacht’ during ‘The Troubles’. Despite promises of being given official recognition under the Good Friday Agreement, Unionists have reneged on this. Sinn Fein has also backtracked. It appears that they are now content to develop West Belfast’s official Gaeltacht, alongside the city’s Cathedral and Titanic Quarters as money-making tourist attractions, rather than develop the language as part of  communities of resistance. However, as this article shows, they have met opposition. 

 

1. GAA AND SKY – GOMBEEN CAPITALISTS BREAK THE LINK WITH THEIR SUPPORTERS

Poster commemorating the founding of the Gaelic Athletic Association in 1884

Poster commemorating the founding of the Gaelic Athletic Association in 1884

With patronage by the elite, a middle class leadership and a large support base of working people the GAA has traditionally reflected Irish social stratification, but within the organisation a sometimes uneasy state of balance existed between the more plebeian club membership and the leadership at provincial, county and top management level at Croke Park. To many of those working class rank and file members the recent Sky deal has been a rude awakening, but like all degenerative processes the push towards the GAA’s commercialisation has been in progress for a while.

Continue reading “CULTURAL CAPITULATION AND CULTURAL RESISTANCE IN IRELAND”

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Dec 19 2013

UNIONISM PUSHES THE IRISH ‘PEACE PROCESS’ FURTHER TO THE SECTARIAN RIGHT

Below are three articles from the Socialist Democracy (Ireland) website highlighting the role of Loyalism and mainstream Ulster Unionism, aided by the UK government in pushing the Good Friday Agreement  further to the sectarian right. Underscoring the UK state’s own declining imperial role, Richard Haas, the unofficial US representative has been drawn in to help them.

These articles also highlight the role of the Catholic Church and middle class, who go along with this, in return for  official state recognition and their cut of  state backed sectarian funding and job allocation. Sinn Fein, in its adopted role of making the UK-state brokered settlement work, is is central to this process  too. The last article also highlights the methods the UK state  is prepared to resort to, whenever it feels threatened.

 

1. HAAS TALKS DEBACLE – Decay of the Irish Peace Process accelerates

Gerry Adams and Gerry Kelly, Sinn Fein, look disconsolate after the collapse of the Haas Talks.

Gerry Adams and Gerry Kelly, Sinn Fein, look disconsolate after the collapse of the Haas Talks.

 

The debacle of the Haass talks collapse, on the early morning of New Year’s Eve, marked a growing instability in local political structures. The talks were supposed to settle conflicts in the Irish peace process and their outcome was somewhat obscured by a persistent failure to tell Irish workers anything about their contents and by a torrent of lies from the British and Irish media, talking the negotiations up while the talks were ongoing and suggesting after the fall that the collapse contained elements of progress.

Continue reading “UNIONISM PUSHES THE IRISH ‘PEACE PROCESS’ FURTHER TO THE SECTARIAN RIGHT”

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Jun 02 2013

A SHARED FUTURE IN THE NORTH OF IRELAND? – The Emperor’s New Clothes

This article first appeared on the Socialist Democracy (Ireland) website at:-http://www.socialistdemocracy.org/RecentArticles/RecentASharedFutureInTheNorthOfIreland.html

Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness at the centenary of the launch of the Titanic

Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness at the centenary of the launch of the Titanic

There is no mistaking the bookend manoeuvre inflicted on the Northern Irish administration at the start of May. At one end the British Secretary of State, Teresa Villiers, made threatening noises about cutting back the flow of grants unless there was some progress towards a more stable political structure.

Continue reading “A SHARED FUTURE IN THE NORTH OF IRELAND? – The Emperor’s New Clothes”

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