Sunday, 13 December 2015



We now have 94 card carrying members

RIC-Edinburgh meetings

November 2nd - Discussion on Kurdistan speakers, Murat Gulem (Peoples Democracy Party, Scottish Section), Pete Cannell (Stop the War Coalition) - 11 people attended

November 16th - Climate Change, Eric Swanepoel organised activity session 

(Minutes Secretary unable to attend second meeting, so only first event covered on our blog at:-

December 7th, Organising Meeting - 5 people attended

RIC-Edinburgh activities

Banner taken to following events:-

Saturday November 28th- Stop Climate Chaos Demonstration (5-8000)

Monday, 30th November, 17-19.00 Anti-War Protest, East End of Princes Street (250-300)

Members also attended the lobby of Holyrood at lunchtime and East of End of Princes  Street on December 3rd.

Our Members (94) and Contacts list (700) continues to act as clearing house for  wide range of campaigns,  activities, educational and social events in Edinburgh, with our Secretary regularly informing people of these.

                                             RIC-Edinburgh banner on the Climate Chaos demo on November 28th
(photo by Joel Venet)

Sunday, 29 November 2015


Speakers - Murat Gulem - Peoples Democratic Party (HDP) (Scottish Section) and Pete Cannell (Stop the War Coalition) with apologies from Sarah Collins (Kurdish Solidarity delegation to Diyarbakir).

Chair: Pat Smith

Murat has lived in the UK since 2001. He had to leave Turkey because he refused to do military service, which is compulsory. He left when he was 25 and is now 39 and is not able to return to Turkey.

Kurdistan was part of the Ottoman Empire. With the break-up of the Empire after the First World War, most of Kurdistan became divided between Turkey, Iraq and Syria, with a further section in the Persian Empire (now Iran).

The Turkish government denies that the Kurds exist. The Kurds were forbidden to speak their own language. In all four countries where the Kurds live, the governments made them speak the state language - Turkish, Arabic or Persian. During the Iran-Iraq War Kurds in Halabja (Iraqi Kurdistan) were massacred by the Iraqi government in 1988. This was reported in the British but not the Turkish press.

Abdullah Ocalan founded the Kurdish Workers Party (KPP) in 1978 to fight for cultural and political rights for Kurds. When the Turkish military took power in 1980 they targeted the Kurds. The PKK initiated an armed struggle in 1984. This struggle put Kurdistan on the political agenda, but the Turkish state wrote this off as terrorism.

In the 1990s the Turkish government verbally conceded that Kurds should receive some right. However, the Turkish military insisted that any party, in order to gain parliamentary seats, should have 10% support in Turkey as a whole. They also declared Kurdish based parties illegal, so they had to change their names frequently.

In 1991 several Kurdish MPs were elected to the Turkish parliament. Despite supposed Parliamentary immunity, Leyla Zana was arrested for wearing Kurdish colours and speaking a few words of Kurdish, then jailed for 13 years. Other Kurdish MPs tried to stay in parliament but were also arrested. After this, there was a further succession of Kurdish parties, with different leaders, each made illegal in turn. The PKK renewed its armed struggle. In 1998, the Turkish authorities captured Ocalan.

In 2002, the Islamist Justice and Development Party, led by Recep Tayyip Erdogan, won the Turkish elections. They made some inroads in Kurdistan by promoting a pan-Islamic, rather than a pan-Turkish politics. However, this led to no improvement in the situation for Kurds. In the 2007 election Kurds stood along with other Independents who won 26 (out of 550) seats in the Turkish parliament. In 2011, Independents won 35 seats.

There were still no substantial improvements for the people of Kurdistan. Ocalan suggested from his prison cell that Kurds should join with wider democratic forces in Turkey to field candidates as the Peoples Democratic Party (HDP) for the June 2015 election. The agreed platform recognised the 1915 Armenian genocide (which the Turkish government denies), and women's and LGBT rights. The HDP has 50:50 male/female representation at all levels. The PKK had also declared a ceasefire, hoping that there would be a new democratic opening. In the election the dominant AKP failed to win an overall majority, whilst the HDP won 80 seats.

Erdogan had hoped to use an AKP majority to install himself at the head of a presidential republic. He now felt threatened and worked hard to create the situation to force through another election. The Kurds became his main target. The AKP government had been giving tacit support to ISIS forces and their attempt to overthrow the Assad government in Syria. When US pressure called for action against ISIS, the Turkish government undertook some token actions against them but massively stepped up their real action against the Kurds.

When ISIS attacked Kobane in Syrian Kurdistan, the official Iraqi Kurdistan government, led by the corrupt Kurdish politician Masoud Barzani, gave no help. This was left to the PKK. The Turkish government put many obstacles in the way of PKK fighters trying to join the struggle in Syria, whilst allowing ISIS fighters to travel over the border unimpeded. Erdogan even claimed in Gazientep that Kobane was about to fall. This was a breaking point for Kurds who had voted for the AKP.

On July 20th a suicide bomber killed 36 people and injured a further 104 in Suruc, on the Turkish side of the border near Kobane. Although this was undertaken by ISIS, the Turkish government arrested far more Kurds in their subsequent operations. On October 10th a bomb was detonated in Ankara, at a Labour, Peace and Democracy rally. 102 people were killed and a further 400 people were injured. Although, most likely undertaken by ISIS, the lack of any Turkish security at the event, and the anti-opposition hysteria promoted by the government led many to question Erdogan's role in this.

The Turkish government also imposed 11day curfews in some Kurdish towns. The army killing anyone who broke this, even if they were only going out for food. This included an 8 year old boy and 85 year old man, who were called terrorists.

The main purpose behind the Turkish government's offensive was to break away the HDP's wider non-Kurdish support through accusations of terrorism, as the PKK tried to defend themselves from army attacks; to intimidate other parties before a re-run election; and to win over the Far Right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).

The new election was held on November 1st and the AKP succeeded in winning an absolute majority. The Far Right MHP lost 5% of its vote and 39 of its seats as its vote went over to the AKP. The HDP lost 2.5% of its vote and 21 of its seats, particularly in the non-Kurdish areas. However, the HDP was not eliminated from the Turkish parliament, and despite the Erdogan victory, the situation remains unstable, although it is difficult to forecast the future.

(waiting for electronic version of contribution from Pete Cannell)


Pat said that she had been very impressed by the HDP's commitment to 50:50 at all levels of the organisation.

Xara asked if after the Suruc and Ankara bombings whether people were getting used to constant death, and also what had been the HDP's attitude to the Taksim Gezi Park protests in Istanbul in 2013.

Murat replied that there had been 3 days of grief after the Ankara bombing, although the state TV channels accepted the government ban on reporting. He compared the lack of a Turkish government sympathetic response to the French government and international response over the Charlie Hebdo killings.

Murat said that at Gezi Park it had been a HDP MP who had first blocked the bulldozers coming to knock down the trees. Subsequent attacks on the HDP for lack of involvement were misplaced, because the HDP wanted to ensure that the protests were not seen as being organised by Kurds, but were a joint protest by Turkish and Kurdish democrats.

Eric said that one thing that could be done was to look into where people's pension funds were invested, and see if they were connected to Turkey.

? asked about the viability of the AKP's economic policy?

Murat said that there has been a bubble of development, which will burst. Saudi Arabia had put a lot of money into Turkey .The AKP government had also imposed n Earthquake Tax, which they have been able to manipulate for their own purposes.

? asked what the relationship was between the PKK and the HDP and what are the Kurds' current political demands?

Murat said that the HDP was an independent political organisation, It had non-Kurdish support including the Armenian MPs, as well as support from Turks who recognised its role in supporting women's and LBGT rights. The PKK is a Kurdish guerilla organisation with its own agenda.

The Kurds want democratic autonomy. However, even when the HDP raised the issue of increasing the powers of local councils they were taken to court by the Turkish government.

Kobane in Syria has its own democratic council. They have won their autonomy in the civil war in Syria.

Iran, like Turkey is ruthless against the Kurds.

Barzani, in Iraqi Kurdistan, is mainly concerned with lining his own pockets. His nephew is the fifth richest man in the world. Barzani  has worked with the Turkish, Iraqi and Iranian governments in the past. He  ees the PKK as a threat to his capitalist interests. There is no real opposition to Barzani in his local parliament. He has refused to attend the Kurdish National Congress.

Steve Kaczynski, who had spent over 5 moths in a Turkish prison this year gave a brief account of hi experiences. A fuller version of this can be at:-

Thursday, 12 November 2015



RIC Edinburgh meetings

RIC Edinburgh met fortnightly, but is now moving over to two meetings a month on the first and third Tuesday. We now have 92 RIC card carrying members in Edinburgh.

September 14th - General discussion on how to pressurise the SNP government and the likely impact of Corby's election as Labour leader- 12 people attended

September 28th - Terry Wrigley- Education Today in Scotland - 10 people attended

October 12th - Stephen McMurray - Unemployment in the Age of Austerity - 6 people attended

The Minutes Secretary was unable to attend the first 2 meetings, so only the third has a set of minutes with the Discussion Topic on the blog.

(for Discussion Topics see

The next meeting is on November 2nd and is jointly organised with the Stop the War Coalition and RISE. Sarah Collins who was part of the Scottish Solidarity with Kurdistan delegtion, Murat Gullen from the Peoples Democracy Party and Pete Cannell of Stop the War Coalition will speak on the situation in Turkey and Kurdistan aftwer the Ankara bombing.

This follows the support given by RIC-Edinburgh at its 12th October meeting to the following motion from UNITE.

“We express our outrage at the brutal attack on the demonstration for peace that occurred on Saturday yesterday in Ankara. The blasts have left nearly 100 people dead and hundreds injured and Unite extends its solidarity and deepest sympathy to all of the victims.

“The demonstration was organised by brave trade unionists, NGOs and political activists, all of whom are desperate for peace and demand an end to the violence that Erdogan’s government is perpetrating against the Kurdish population, trade unionists and human rights activists in general.

“Unite issued a statement from its last Executive Council (September 2015) that called on the Turkish government to end its attacks, release the imprisoned Kurdish leader Ocalan and immediately restart the peace talks. We reiterate that call today.

“Unite has always been extremely concerned at the poor record of the Turkish state in relation to human and workers’ rights and has always stood shoulder to shoulder with the brave men and women who have sought to change the situation.

“The recent actions of the Turkish government are deplorable and have been undertaken with its own political self interest in mind. The language and actions used by the government are aimed at creating a climate of fear and intimidation ahead of the pending election and serve precisely to create the atmosphere in which such atrocities take place.

“Unite will continue to stand in solidarity with all those progressive forces that seek to bring about peace and change.”

RIC-Edinburgh Activities

Friday, September 11th, Allan Armstrong spoke on the situation in Scotland at the Desmond Greaves Weekend School in Dublin

Saturday, September 26th, RIC members attended the Edinburgh TUC workshop on anti-cuts/anti-austerity

Saturday, October 3rd, RIC members on anti-SDL demo in Edinburgh

Sunday, October 4th, RIC Edinburgh had members and banner at the TUC organised demo in Manchester on October 4th against the Tories anti-trade union bill

Saturday, October10th, RIC members and banner on in Hands Across Our Forth demo against fracking and underground gasification

Thursday, 22nd October, RIC members attended the Sheku Bayoh public meeting

Thursday, 19th October, RIC members attended the Anti-Cuts Lobby at Edinburgh City Chambers

Friday, 30 October 2015





Refers to people without a job who were available to start work in the two weeks following their interview and who had either looked for work in the four weeks prior to interview or were waiting to start a job they had already obtained.

Unemployment Rate

Unemployed as a percentage of the economically active population.

Economically Active

People who are in employment or are actively seeking employment

Statistics (Annual Population Survey)

Jan-Dec 2007: Number of unemployed 1,579,700 (5.2%)

Peaked between Jul 2011-June 2012: Number of unemployed 2,551,700 (8.2%)

April 2014-March 2015: Number of unemployed 1,920,800 (6.1%)

Worst hit sectors (June 2007 – June 2015)

Manufacturing 341,000
Public Administration 282,000
Construction 195,000
Wholesale and retail 110,000
Finance and insurance 38,000

Increase in Part-time Work (170,300)

July 2011 - June 2012: 7,340,700
April 2014 –March 2015: 7,511,000

Increase in Self-employment (511,000) (ONS)

July2011-Sep2011 4,079,000
April2014-July2014 4,590,000

Increase in Zero Hour Contracts (554,000)  (ONS)

2011 190,000
2015 Apr-June 744,000

Disadvantaged Groups in Employment

UK employment rate of people aged 16-64 73.5% (May-July 2015). (ONS)

UK employment rate of disabled people 16-64 46.6% (Apr2014-March2015) (Annual population Survey).

UK employment rate of ethnic minorities 16-64 61.8% (Apr2014-March2015) (Annual population Survey).

Government Response

The Work Programme

Started in the summer of 2011. 15 of the 18 contracts given to private sector organisations. Two year programme, focus on work-first, rather than improving employability.

June 2011 – June 2015 (27%)

Attachments 1,724,690
Jobs 459,370

ESA Claimants (10%)

Attachments 312,710
Jobs 30,790


Increasing use of sanctions if people don’t apply for enough jobs, late for JCP interviews etc. Citizens Advice Scotland estimate that there are 200 sanctions per day in Scotland.

Vacancies (ONS)

June – Aug 2015 740,00 vacancies, probably nearly two million unemployed. Simply not enough jobs in the economy.

Edinburgh Employability Projects Closed

Nisus 2008
Blindcraft 2011
Remploy 2012
SkillNet 2015
The Engine Shed 2015
Woman Onto Work 2015

Impact of Unemployment

Stirling University Study – Unemployment changes personality, less agreeable, motivated, sympathetic, curious.


Kate asked how the projects in Edinburgh were financed?

Stephen replied that most came form the City Council budget but that there was also some national government funding available. Both sources of funding have been severely cut.

Pat said she was surprised when she saw the extent of the projects that have been cut in Edinburgh. She had been involved in some of the defence campaogns, and it was useful to have the full list before her.

Despite the misapprehensions of some who saw these projects as merely providing 'pretend work', Remply had manufactured engineering components and Blindcraft had produced beds which many people had bought.

These places had been targetted becuse they were easier to close.

Allan said that he seemed to remember in the case of Blindcraft that the Council had deliberately split the workforce, saying that continuing to keep the place open would jeopardise the pay-offs of the longer term employed nearing retirement.

Duncan asked what Nisus did?

Stephen replied that Nisus had provided basic IT skills training fo the unemployed in Leith.

Eric said that he worked for a charity. People on Workfare had been forced to work for charities.

He also pointed out that the personal and social effects of unemployment which Stephen had highlighted applies just as much to the effects of inequality. This had been shown in The Spirit Level by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett.

He then asked how should RIC use this information?

Stephen said that the differnce between the number of available jobs and the unemployed highlighted the falsity of Osborne's arguments, desptie the fact that the official unemployment figure underestsimated their real total, and the fact that it would not only be the unemployed who applied for the job vacancies. The poor quality of many jobs was highlighted by the massive expansion of zero hours contracts.

Allan said that when it came to campaigning Mike Vallance's talk on Workfare ( see provided a lot of information.

Eric thought that the campaign for a Citizens Income (see was imporatnt in the context of the fight against unemployment.

Stephen said that a Citizens Income would remove the stigma attached to being unemployed.

Eric said that many unemployed people were being forced to apply for jobs that didn't really exist. When vacanices were filled they were still posted as being available. Sometimes the same job was advertised in a number of different forms. This whole process is a waste of time as far as getting a job is concerned. However, that is not the rea lpurpse, which is to drive people off the claimants' list.

Kate said that in her own experience many advertised jobs were filled internally, but were posted externally as being available to meet employment requirements.

Duncan said that official government policy had gone from seeking full employement to managing acceptable levels of unemployment. There are no longer any subsidies available for businesses in trouble.

Allan thought that this reflected the change from the post-war Keysnesian attempts to manage national economies, with one aim of seeking full employment to the post-1979 neo-liberal acceptance that national economies would have to find their niche within the global corporate order, and that unemplomwnt was an indication of a person's failings, either in tems of skills or not being prepared to accept the pay and conditions demanded by business.

Kate said that big busineeses wanted unemployment to discipline the workforce.

Eric said that despite all the claims they made for themselves about providing large scale unemployment, companies like Walmart and Amazon eliminated more jobs than they created.

Kate said sthat she was shocked to find the Coop using automatic tills.

Pat said that empoyyers argued that zero hours contracts gave workers flexibility. The real answer was to provide permanent contracts with flexible wroking arrangements.

Pat also pointed to the STUC's Better Than Zero campaign.



RIC Edinburgh meetings

RIC Edinburgh continues to meet fortnightly.

August 17th - Resisting Austerity - Mike Vallance, Autonomous Centre Edinburgh - Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty - 25 people attended

August 31st - Kimon Bukas, Antarsya - The new political situation in Greece - 15 people attended.

(for Discussion Topics see

We now have 90 RIC card-carrying members in Edinburgh.

RIC-Edinburgh Activities

The holiday period has led to a slackening off of activity. Members have been mainly involved in campaigns against TTIP, or the effects of the cuts in their communities and workplaces. Some have been involved in Festival Fringe events. Allan Armstrong spoke on the Edinburgh Legacy of James Connolly for the Edinburgh Peoples Festival at the Liberton 'Yes' Cafe on August 10th. RIC also held a small meeting with visitors from Catalunya in the Yes cafe on August 12th. Pat Smith was on the panel of the Common Weal Butterfly Rammy Fringe event speaking on the Indyref.

Edinburgh-RIC includes members of the ISS, Greens, RCN, SNP, SSP, SWP and those in no political organisation at all. ISS, RCN and SSP members, along with others have now joined RISE. The
Edinburgh launch was attended by 90 people. RIC-Edinburgh continues to be a coalition of people from different political organisations, various local campaigns and those who are not in other organisations.

A forthcoming event backed by RIC-Edinburgh is the national demonstration for justice, organised by the Sheku Bayoh Justice Campaign on Sunday, September 6th, 14.00 at Kirkcaldy Town House, KY1 1XW

Allan Armstrong
Minutes Secretary