nuclear weapons and scottish independence

21 05 2013

 The Scottish National Party has insisted that an independent Scotland would be free of nuclear weapons, says Eric Chester. This position reflects the fact that Scottish popular opinion is overwhelmingly opposed to the stationing of the Trident submarine system at Faslane. These subs, a leftover from the Cold War days, are nuclear powered and carry ballistic missiles armed with nuclear weapons. The SNP campaign to rid Scotland of nuclear weapons has provided one of the few salient arguments for independence.

ScotlandOutofNATO

     At the same time, the SNP is desperate to depict an independent Scotland as one that can be counted on to be a reliable cog in the global capitalist order. This drive for respectability has led Alex Salmond to push through the recent SNP national conference a resolution insisting that an independent Scotland would remain within NATO. Contrary to the SNP’s protestations, these two positions are blatantly contradictory.

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from syriza to scotland

26 12 2012

Eric Chester provides an analysis of the Scottish Radical Independence Conference within the context of Syriza.

Greece has become the flashpoint for Europe. The Greek economy has collapsed, but Spain, Portugal, Ireland, and even Italy are also spiralling downward. Nevertheless, only in Greece does there seem to be an organized political response that can directly challenge for power.

RIC

SYRIZA began as a loose coalition of parties and organization that sought to present a non-dogmatic left-wing alternative to the mainstream social democratic politics of PASOK. As the crisis has deepened, SYRIZA has snowballed in strength to the point that current opinion polls show it with more popular support than any other party. At the same time, SYRIZA has been evolving into a unitary organization with a recognized leader Alex Tsipras.

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what can we tell from the scottish local election?

25 05 2012

By Allan Armstrong

The Scottish local council elections, held on May 5th, have attracted much wider interest than would normally normally be the case for such an event. The primary reason for this is the mounting speculation arising from the SNP Holyrood government’s promised Scottish independence referendum in 2014. The media has become more aware that the current UK constitutional arrangements face a real challenge. Therefore, whenever any Scottish election occurs, the runes are carefully being read to see if support for independence is growing or falling away.

The usual presumption is that votes for the SNP can be directly interpreted as support for Scottish independence. There are a number of problems with this. A vote for the SNP represents different things in different contexts. This can be seen by examining the very different voting patterns in the Westminster, Holyrood and local elections; and also by comparing these to polls showing the levels of support for Scottish independence (however this is understood). Read the rest of this entry »





The paradox of Nationalism as Internationalism from below

6 05 2012

Barry Biddulph replies to Bob Goupillot and Allan Armstrong on communists and Scotland’s referendum.

Maclean – For a Scottish Workers’ Republic

Bob Goupillot and Allan Armstrong of the Republican Communist Network (RCN), want to create a new global order. Yet their starting point for a communist transition is a national territorial framework in general, as they acknowledge, and Scotland in particular. They argue that they are not nationalists, but internationalists, with a strategy of internationalism from below, in which small nation nationalism can be transformed into internationalism. This is a  paradox. What is their tactical and strategic standpoint? Read the rest of this entry »





communists and scotland’s referendum

6 05 2012

In the light of the SNP’s referendum initiative, Bob Goupillot and Allan Armstrong of the Republican Communist Network continue our debate on Scottish independence.

To better understand our approach to this issue it is useful, by way of a preamble, to provide a thumbnail sketch of our understanding of the international context.

The modern form of capitalism is a developed imperialism dominated by the United States. US imperialism relies on a series of local allies at strategic locations around the world. In western Europe the USA’s main ally is the UK state, which thereby provides a linchpin for the whole system.

In this context we see our role as communists to work towards the transformation of the existing states on these islands into becoming part of a federation of European socialist republics in a transition to a stateless world – a global commune. Read the rest of this entry »





the free hetherington is invincible

7 04 2011

By Liam T of Scottish Socialist Youth – http://ssy.org.uk/.

Tuesday 22nd March was a day that will be remembered for sensational events at Glasgow University. Dozens of Police and security guards swooped on the Free Hetherington, in an attempt to clear students out of their 50-day occupation of the disused Research Club building. Following eviction, protesters went on to occupy the luxurious Senate building. Astonishingly, this resulted in a late-night capitulation from management, with an invitation for us to return to the Hetherington in exchange for vacating the Senate. Read the rest of this entry »





holyrood and councils brandish the cuts knife

9 03 2011

Allan Armstrong reports on the cuts in Scotland and the incipient resistance

The ConDem government is cutting back the Westminster block grant to Scotland by over £1 billion. A Holyrood general election will take place on May 5th and the signs are that the SNP will lose out to Labour. Just as in the run-up to last May’s Westminster vote, the governing party here is being very coy about announcing exactly how the full cuts would pan out.

Of course there have already been many cuts, but so far only very piecemeal and partial fightbacks. In the SNP/Lib-Dem controlled Edinburgh Council, the 216-year old Blindcraft workshop for disabled people was closed down in January. The council cultivated division amongst their employees by suggesting moving to a three day week, with no longer term guarantees. Individuals were asked to sign up to this ‘deal’. The able-bodied staff saw this as a method to cut redundancy pay. Many of the disabled staff, with virtually no prospect of future work, felt they had little option but to agree. The 53 employees were divided between three unions, and the council was able to get away with a closure that hit the most disadvantaged workers particularly hard. Read the rest of this entry »





third global commune report, trade unions – are they fit for purpose?

10 02 2011

It was generally agreed by participants that the third Global Commune event, jointly hosted by the Republican Communist Network (RCN) and the commune, on Saturday, January 29th, was a very worthwhile day. Writes Allan Armstrong.

A union official addresses London dockers, 1947.

Once again, the event was held in the ‘Out of the Blue’ Centre in Leith (Edinburgh) and involved, as well as the organising groups, members of the Independent Workers Union (IWU) in Ireland, the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), Permanent Revolution, the Autonomous Centre in Edinburgh (ACE), current and ex-members of the SSP, and the Anarchist Federation. Read the rest of this entry »





trade unions – fit for purpose? edinburgh global commune, 29th january

19 01 2011

In both the UK and Ireland today, the overwhelming majority of trade union leaders have signed up to social partnerships. These effectively reduce unions to a free personnel management service for the employers. However, the traditional Broad Left response of electing alternative leaders has shown itself unable to counter social partnerships. Indeed many current union leaders, who now accept social partnership, were themselves earlier Broad Left members.

The third Global Commune event, jointly sponsored by the Republican Communist Network and The Commune, asks the question – “Trade unions – Are they fit for purpose?” A number of different approaches to organising workers will be discussed in workshops over the day. All welcome: registration 10.30 for 11.00-16.30 meeting, at the Out of the Blue Centre, Dalmeny Street, Leith, Edinburgh. Read the rest of this entry »





the sheridan perjury trial

3 01 2011

The split on the Scottish Left between celebrity populist and genuine socialist politics

On May 1st, 2003 six Scottish Socialist Party members were elected to Holyrood. From December 23rd, 2010, by far the best-known (former) member of the SSP, Tommy Sheridan, faces a jail sentence for committing perjury, following in the footsteps of Lord Jeffrey Archer and Jonathan Aitken. At a time of unprecedented attacks on the working class, led by a Tory-Lib-Dem government at Westminster, transmitted by an SNP government in Holyrood, and taken up by Labour, SNP, Lib-Dem and Tory councillors throughout Scotland, there is only one remaining socialist (SSP) representative – Jim Bollan, the councillor for the Leven ward in West Dunbartonshire.

How has this sad state of affairs come to pass, and is there anything socialists can usefully learn from all this?  Perhaps the most immediate lesson is the incompatibility of trying to build a socialist organisation through promoting a celebrity leader. Furthermore, this has been highlighted, in the UK, not only by the example of Tommy Sheridan, but also of Derek Hatton (CWI/Militant), Arthur Scargill (Socialist Labour Party) Ken Livingstone (one-time Left independent) and George Galloway (Respect).

However, the fact that the same mistake keeps repeating itself shows that a significant section of the Left in the UK is more attracted to populist politics, than to genuine socialist politics, where all members are treated as equals and are encouraged to think for themselves. Read the rest of this entry »





a reply to joe thorne’s ‘the republican communist network’s ‘internationalism from below’ and the case of scotland: a critical view’

5 12 2010

The Republican Communist Network (Scotland) have written a collective response to an earlier article by Joe Thorne.

Introduction

The RCN would like to thank Joe for his contribution to the ongoing debate amongst the commune membership on the ‘National Question’. This has followed from the paper, The communist case for ‘internationalism from below’, which Allan Armstrong presented to the second Global Commune event in Edinburgh on May 22nd, 2010. In one of the two workshops held on this topic, Joe and others raised a number of specific questions about the RCN’s attitude to Scottish independence. Joe followed this up by writing, The RCN’s ‘internationalism from below’ and the case of Scotland: a critical view. Read the rest of this entry »





unison stirred by goverment cuts onslaught

3 10 2010

by Matt Mansfield

The national leadership of Unison held an anti-cuts Conference in a hotel in central Glasgow on 4th September, which was billed as one of a number of similar events in different areas of the country. In many ways this event shows the fear of having large sections of its organisation smashed that haunts the Unison leadership: this fear is driving the union to seek out allies in the fight against the cuts.

The first thing of note was the publicity: it was circulated on left email lists and I thought it was a basic event held by Glasgow City Unison branch, which is effectively run by the Socialist Party in these parts. However, as far as I know it did not appear on the boards/network for Glasgow City Unison members, nor was there anything through my own Unison branch although this tends to be pretty insular in nature. Read the rest of this entry »





the national question: for active involvement in all our class’s struggles

18 08 2010

Allan Armstrong replies to Clifford Biddulph’s No nationalist solutions

Clifford Biddulph’s No nationalist solutions (issue no. 15 of The Commune) consists mainly of a reply to my article, The Communist Case for Internationalism from Below.  This was written for the Second Global Commune event held on May 22nd in Edinburgh. I appreciate the time Clifford has taken to contribute to this debate. However, there will probably need to be a number of further articles before readers can fully appreciate the politics underlying our two approaches.

Clifford’s reply only addresses a few of the arguments, which I put forward in this article. Instead, Clifford puts forward his own particular critique of nationalism – the neo-Luxemburgist variant of the cosmopolitan approach, which I have already examined and found wanting. Of course, it is perfectly valid for Clifford to write an article offering his own view and to outline its particular origins. In doing so, however, he hasn’t dealt with my critique of the two main approaches to nationalism and the struggle for national self-determination found on the Left – (con)federal and cosmopolitan. Read the rest of this entry »





the republican communist network’s ‘internationalism from below’ and the case of scotland: a critical view

30 06 2010

by Joe Thorne

The Republican Communist Network (Scotland) has developed a distinctive view on the national question which they call ‘Internationalism from below‘.

The Scottish working class ignited the struggle against the poll tax - but is the demand for independence a positive one?

Although the theory represents a comprehensive attempt to deal with the national question, in this article I will solely discuss it through the prism of the question of Scottish independence. This provides the most obvious and relevant case study through which to draw out the real implications of the theory, an approach which is necessary since I will be unable here to develop a comprehensive alternative account of the national question. Read the rest of this entry »








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