May 25 2017

RIC-EDINBURGH STATEMENT ON THE JUNE 8TH GENERAL ELECTION

The Radical Independence Campaign- Edinburgh has produced the following statement in response to forthcoming Westminster General Election.

 

 

Theresa May’s forthcoming general election is not a normal election. It is being called in defiance of the Tories’ own 2011 Fixed Term Parliament Act. It bears a strong resemblance to a presidential-style plebiscite. But in the absence of actual presidential powers, such as those now wielded by Trump in the USA, May still wants to be able to override Westminster, Holyrood, Cardiff Bay and Stormont altogether.

To do this she needs a supine parliament of nodding-head Tories, quite happy to go meekly through the government lobbies. In return they will be able to pocket their large salaries and many ‘fringe benefits’, whilst also making big killings from second (and more) jobs, the rewards of business lobbying and by directly employing their families. Furthermore, in Scotland, David Mundell and Ruth Davidson have already shown they will do whatever May tells them.

The Tories are in the reactionary European Alliance of Conservatives and Reformists, along with Erdogan’s Turkish Justice and Development Party. May hopes to emulate Erdogan’s concentration of personal power after his recent rigged referendum. However, unlike Erdogan she doesn’t need to rewrite the UK’s constitution since it doesn’t exist in a written form. Instead she wants full control of the Crown’s armoury of anti-democratic powers. Thus armed, May hopes to cement the British ruling class behind her hard Brexit. In the face of ongoing global economic and political crises, she seeks to ensure that the ever-rising costs are borne by others, so ‘our’ rulers can continue to live in the manner to which they have become accustomed.

To counter any remaining ruling class opposition to Brexit, May is offering them a mouth-watering deal. There may still be some “bespoke” EU deals for the City and selected corporations. However, to compensate for other possible losses, the Tories are preparing the ground for a major attack on workers’ pay, conditions and remaining trade union rights. They want to step up austerity, which falls most severely on women’s shoulders, and ensure remaining welfare benefits are fully subjected to punitive sanctions administered by ruthless private companies. More than 2 million workers from the EU are to be subjected to the draconian legislation, already in place for other migrants, so that British firms have access to a highly segmented workforce, divided by pay, conditions and residency rights, with the illegal lowest tier subjected to super-exploitation and to act as scapegoats. Civil rights will be further eroded. There is to be an increased militarisation of policing and state surveillance is to be stepped up. Our environment will continue to be sacrificed to corporate profits, as May’s support for fracking in England shows. New trade deals are to be signed with Trump to open up the NHS to full privatisation. The UK is to sign up fully to all US wars for the benefit of the British arms industry, thus bringing untold misery across this planet.

Scotland is in the frontline of May’s attacks. The British ruling class wants finally to see off Scotland’s attempted democratic revolution of 2014, where 97% of people registered to vote and 85% actually did so. This level of political engagement is without precedent in UK politics. Furthermore, this and the massive surge in support for Scottish independence, from 30% in 2012 to 45% in 2014, was done in defiance of the UK state, the EU bureaucrats, the US State Department and the British media, including the BBC. Open political, social and cultural meetings and events across the length and breadth of Scotland, supplemented by new independent media sources, massively contributed to this.

This why the real purpose behind the Unionists’ shrill ‘No to IndyRef2’ is to shut down this mass participation, so that things can return to normal – politics run by self-serving careerists, subservient to the British establishment and corporate power. This is one reason why Tories, Labour and Lib-Dems all cynically tried to hijack the recent Scottish local council elections to deny the Scottish people the right to hold the referendum agreed by Holyrood on March 27th, on the basis of prior election commitments.

However, May wants to go even further. The Tories, having played Labour for fools in Better Together during IndyRef 1, now want to finish them off as a major electoral party. May will also undermine the existing devolution arrangements in Scotland and Northern Ireland and take whatever harsh measures are needed to deal with the consequences. To achieve this, May will fall back on the Crown’s Supreme Court ruling that she, with supine Westminster backing, can override any devolved assembly powers. Cameron’s, Miliband’s and Clegg’s pretended liberal unionism is to be buried by May’s very real reactionary unionism. UKIP’s and the DUP’s politics have been mainstreamed by May’s Tories. Sadly Jeremy Corbyn, loyal to British Labour and Westminster above all else, just can not see this.

The Radical Independence Campaign (RIC) has members in the SNP, Greens, socialist organisations, Labour supporters of Scottish independence, and a majority in no party at all. Therefore, as in the 2015 Westminster and the 2016 Holyrood elections (when RIC-Edinburgh held hustings), we will not be making specific voting recommendations for the June 4th general election.

Nevertheless, we call on RIC supporters to recognise May’s attempt to turn this election into a personal plebiscite to centralise UK state power in her hands, to be wielded on behalf of her big business backers. A prime target is the democratic right of the Scottish people to exercise our right to self-determination. Brexit is to be used to reinforce all the most reactionary features of Britishness. Instead of a Brexit fiasco we need an Ex-Brit (or break-up the UK) strategy to help us break free from the UK. In RIC’s spirit of internationalism from below, this involves the people of Northern Ireland, Wales and England too. Therefore, we call for the rejection of all Unionist candidates.

We also recognise that the Tories want to use the UK’s profoundly anti-democratic powers to mount a major attack on the overwhelming majority. We will continue to work in and with trade unions, community organisations and all those campaigns we have supported to prepare both a defence against the planned attacks and to create a new society based on RIC’s 5 Principles:-

1)         For a social alternative to austerity and privatisation

2)         Green and environmentally sustainable

3)         A modern republic for real democracy

4)         Committed to equality and opposition to discrimination on grounds of       gender, race, disability, sexuality or age

5)         Internationalist and opposed to war, NATO and Trident

We remain adamant that Another Scotland, Another Europe and Another World are Possible.

RIC-EDINBURGH, 25.05.17

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also see:-

http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2017/04/06/radical-independence-campaign-statement-defend-democracy/

or

https://radical.scot/radical-yes/

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Apr 07 2017

SOME OBSERVATIONS UPON ‘THE COMMONWEALTH OF ENGLAND’

Allan Armstrong makes some observations on The Commonwealth of England written by Steve Freeman (see http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2017/04/07/the-commonwealth-of-england/). He examines the likely role that federalism will play in IndyRef2, drawing on the historical precedents for its use in the UK and USSR.

 

SOME OBSERVATIONS UPON THE COMMONWEALTH OF ENGLAND

There is a great deal I agree with in Steve’s article. In a later contribution to this discussion I would like to develop Steve’s historic analysis, going back to the days of the Levellers, through the Chartists and on to the Suffragettes. However, in these observations, I will confine myself to the issue of federalism.

The political origins of the idea of British federalism go back to the first attempts to hold together the British Empire in North America, when faced by the challenge of American republicanism. It failed. The challenge of Irish republicanism and the War of Independence from 1919, led to a Westminster Speakers’ Conference. This recommended a federal solution for the UK. It too failed. Although the UK state did instead, after Loyalist pogroms and reactionary unionist Partition, come up with the earliest form of political Devolution in the UK – Stormont. No wonder, it was difficult for others later to win support for devolution in Scotland and Wales, when Stormont formed the precedent!
Continue reading “SOME OBSERVATIONS UPON ‘THE COMMONWEALTH OF ENGLAND’”

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Dec 17 2016

REACTIONARY UNIONISM SHOWS ITS TRUE COLOURS

We are posting two more articles from the Socialist Democracy (Ireland) highlighting entrenched corrupt and sectarian nature of the Stormont set-up.

1.  THE STORMONT RHI SCANDAL AND THE CALLS FOR RESIGNATION

WHY STOP AT ARLENE?

 

At a cost to the public purse of almost  £500 million there is no doubting the level of corruption and maladministration surrounding the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme. The scheme was devolved to Stormont even though the British already had a functioning system. The criteria were altered so that a scheme meant to save energy became one where the more fuel you burnt the greater the subsidies and where costs could expand without limit.
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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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Nov 08 2015

SAVING STORMONT: THE LAST HURRAH?

The RCN has continually emphasised the significance of political developments in Northern Ireland. In contrast to England and Wales, where conservative unionism remains dominant, and Scotland where a hybrid constitutional nationalism/liberal unionism is dominant, in Northern Ireland reactionary unionism has become the predominant political force. Together the Ulster unionist parties and the loyalists been able to push back the post-1997 Good Friday Agreement component of the UK state’s ‘New Unionist’ Peace Process and Devolution-all-round settlement. UKIP intends to use this model to extend its own reactionary unionist offensive across the UK.  This article, from Socialist Democracy (Ireland)  shows how the UK state has used the Ulster unionists’ current offensive directed against Sinn Fein, to further its austerity programme, in return for more political concessions to entrench the political position of reactionary unionists and loyalists. 

Ultra-sectarian Ruth Patterson of the DUP challenges party leader, Peter Robinson. from the further Right

Ultra-sectarian Ruth Patterson of the DUP challenges party leader, Peter Robinson. from the further Right

SAVING STORMONT: THE LAST HURRAH

The results of the report by a British government monitoring panel caused bemusement among observers inside and outside Ireland. Following the statement of a few truisms – the IRA still exist, the loyalist gangs are still active – the Democratic Unionist Party, who had been blocking the operation of the local Assembly by resigning their positions and re-appointing themselves in a weekly cycle, returned to their positions full-time.
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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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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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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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