Tuesday, 4 December 2018


 RIC-Edinburgh banner in McPhater Street Glasgow

 Gerry Mulvenna sings a song in support of the Catalan hunger strikers

Pauline Bradley and Gavin Paterson from johnmaclean100 sing

The legendary Arthur Johnstone songs Freedom Come All Ye and the Internationale

The newly formed johnmaclean100lscot organised a series of events on Monday December 3rd to commemorate the exact centenary date  of John Maclean's release from Peterhead Jail, his train journey to Aberdeen, and then on to Glasgow, where he received a hero's welcome from a waiting crowd, estimated to be 100,000 strong. Information about this can be seen at:-

The event began in Aberdeen, at 8.00 am, when a group from Aberdeen Trades Council celebrated the welcome given to John Maclean as he changed trains on his way to Glasgow. In Glasgow, about 80 people walked the exact route that John Maclean had followed from McPhater Street to Calton Place on the south bank of the River Clyde. 

This was followed by a brief introduction from Alan Smart of johnmaclean100, in which he emphasised the significance of John Maclean in linking the National and Social Questions, and pointing to his relevance today. In particular, Alan highlighted the need to support those women in Glasgow who had taken strike action for equal pay against the now SNP controlled Glasgow council, after their let down by Labour in the previous administration. Alan also supported the pay claim being made by Scottish teachers in the EIS.

After Alan's introduction  a number of performers played a variety of songs, many about John Maclean, as well as about various struggles from the Wobblies in the USA to the 1984-5 Miners' Strike. The performers included johnmaclean.100 members, Pauline Bradley, Shaun Moore, Gavin Paterson, and Alan Smart. RIC-Edinburgh's very own Gerry Mulvenna sang a song he had written about the current situation in Catalunya. He spoke of the significance of the current hunger strike to force the European Court of Justice to press for the release of the Catalan political prisoners held by the Spanish state. The legendary Glasgow traditional music performer, Arthur Johnstone finished off proceedings with Freedom Come All Ye and the Internationale.

The RIC-Edinburgh banner was there. This went some way to make amends for the role of Edinburgh in John Maclean's life. It was in Edinburgh's Calton Jail that he was first imprisoned in 1916 for his opposition to the First World War. It was in Edinburgh's High Court on 9th May 1918, that John Maclean made his famous Speech from the Dock, before being sent to serve a punitive labour sentence in Peterhead Jail. Perhaps, not surprisingly, Maclean did not return to Glasgow via Edinburgh! 

However, the great James Connolly has gone a considerable way to retrieve Edinburgh's reputation. He saw two Edinburghs - the one from below (quite literally from The Cowgate) - and the one from above - "the snobs, flunkeys, mashers, lawyers, students, middle class pensioners and dividend hunters". It was with the support of the latter that Edinburgh's High Court was able to jail John Maclean. Today, RIC-Edinburgh places itself in that other tradition - the city from below. 


Gavin Paterson also has a programme on the Celtic Music podcast. The most recent one had the following playlist:- 

Come In Come In - Andy Stewart
The John MacLean March - Tonight At Noon Gavin Livingstone
Oh, Freedom - Pete Seeger
The Glesca Eskimos - Glasgow Song Guild (Josh MacRae)
Ding Dong Dollar - Glasgow Song Guild (Nigel Denver)
The Twa Corbies - Andy Hunter
If You're Black Get Back (Black Brown & White) - Danny Kyle memorial page
Bearsden Breakdown - Allan Tall
Maggie's Pit Ponies - Nancy Nicolson
Farewell To The Monty - Gerda Stevenson
In The Vale Of Aberfan - Freddie Anderson
When This Bloody War Is Over - Rab Noakes
The Red Clydesiders/Mrs Barbour's Army/Don't Sign Up For War -  Alistair Hulett Memorial Trust
The John MacLean March - Arthur Johnstone

The Eskimo Republic - Jimmy Ross
The Ballad of John Maclean - Pauline Bradley & Bernadette Collier
The Man In Peterhead - Alastair McDonald & Gavin Paterson
The Freedom Train To Glasgow - Alan Smart
The Singing Dominies - Shaun Moore
Scottish Breakaway - Liam Clancy
When Dawns The Day - Andrew MacDonald
Thomas Muir Of Huntershill - Dick Gaughan
We Shall Overcome - Pete Seeger
Freedom Come All Ye - Glasgow Song Guild (Jack O'Connor)

This podcast can be seen in two parts  at:-


Edinburgh-RIC Assembly, November 28th


Speakers - Maggie Chapman Co-Convenor, Scottish Greens
                Neil Davidson - RS21

Facilitator - Pete Cannell

The contributions from Maggie and Neil can be seen at:-

This was followed by questions and answers. Tony Martin of the Peoples Vote campaign spoke in favour of giving the people a new vote over Brexit. This followed the stalemate and inability of the government to put forward any unified Brexit option. Who should resolve this - May and her shrinking band of supporters, Westminster or the people? He talked about the Peoples Vote street campaign in East Lothian.

Some were worried about the boost that any attempt to rerun the Brexit referendum would give to the hard Right, with their shouts of betrayal and taking to the streets. You can not write off all Brexit voters as racist and many held quite legitimate grievances over the EU. The conduct of the EU towards Greece should not be forgotten. There were real limitations on what a Left government could achieve within the EU. 

Others argued that the hard Right would make advances, in both the dump Brexit and Brexit scenarios. In the dump Brexit scenario, though they would face a major defeat, since Brexit has been at the forefront of the Tory Right, UKIP, BNP and EDL agenda for some time. The Far Right would go ballistic, but they would not have become politically mainstreamed.  In any Brexit scenario, the creation of a new border and the stepped up immigration laws, would provide the far Right with the scope for vigilante action to supplement the already very reactionary UK laws and state activities over immigration. Many of the hard Right's arguments would enter the political mainstream. Their position in relation to the UK state would more resemble that of Loyalists to the old Orange Stormont regime. There were also major limitations in what you could achieve in the UK, with its anti-democratic powers and subservience to The City. 

The need to place an emphasis on the plight that EU migrants and asylum seekers now faced was agreed by all. The need to understand the reasons why many workers voted for Brexit, and not to dismiss them as the liberal elite did, was also agreed. As a consequence of Brexit, some of the middle class was now experiencing the economic blows for the first time that had fallen upon many of the working class for decades as a result of Thatcher's neo-liberal offensive. 

There was a discussion about the need for new types of organisation to replace those that the neo-liberal offensive had broken up, and those still existing bureaucratised unions, which were no longer fit for purpose,. The possibilities of community-based unions were discussed. Although fewer young people were involved in trade unions, their willingness to become involved in campaigns, which challenged the current order, was also emphasised - Occupy, the Radical Independence Campaign, the Living Rent Campaign. MeToo, and now Extinction Rebellion. 


On 27.11.18, The National published a piece, Why the 'Lexit 'Campaign was a Huge Missed Opportunity  by Cat Boyd:-

Cat has been a prominent member of RIC. T  She has her own column in The National and the views she expresses are personal ones. Cat's article argued for a new Lexit or Left Leave campaign. RIC does not have a position on Brexit. We have Remainers, Leavers and Abstainers amongst our members and supporters. However, RIC has never been afraid of organising debates around this issue, as the discussion on 18.11.18 shows.

Allan Armstrong sent a reply to The National on 27.11.18, which, knowing space would be limited,  only addressed one aspect of Cat's arguments. This letter was not published, so we are posting it below, as a further contribution to the debate.

A letter to The National

Cat Boyd has provided a damning indictment of the Lexiters in and since the Brexit referendum campaign. Yet she still tries to offers her advice about how a Lexit campaign could be revived. In this Cat completely ignores the elephant in the room - the creation of a new border. This is fundamentally what Brexit is all about.

The Lexiters and Right Brexiters both want a strengthened UK border to keep out the aspects of the EU membership they don't like - for the LexIters - the EUs neo-liberal constraints on public spending and nationalisation; for the Right Brexiters  - the EU's workers', consumers' and environmental safeguards. However, they are united in accepting that Brexit means the ending the free movement of people within what has been the wider EU.

The EU, in relation to its citizens, guarantees free movement from which millions, including UK subjects, have benefitted. The EU, in relation to the outside world has the Schengen Wall, which has contributed to the deaths of thousands of asylum seekers and migrants. What has been the UK's attitude to Schengen? The same as its attitude to workers right's - it wanted exemptions to impose worse conditions. For successive UK governments, the 'walls' weren't high enough. This led to the degrading Calais camps. When asylum seekers and migrants were desperately trying to cross Mediterranean Sea, and drowning in their thousands, the British navy, stationed at Gibraltar and Cyprus, only rescued a handful. The navy's main task was getting involved in, or providing logistical support for, US bombing in the Near and Middle East. Yet it was these brutal attacks on Libya, Iraq and Syria that had mightily contributed to the exodus of millions, who were mainly absorbed by their neighbouring poor countries. Some did make it to the EU's shores. How did the UK address this massive humanitarian crisis it had helped to create? It took in 187 Syrians, compared to Germany, with no Mediterranean navy, taking in 30,000.

We now have the new UK/EU Deal. May is touring the country trying to sell it. What does she claim is its greatest benefit? She says that the UK can now control immigration. The human tragedy of detention centres like Dungavel and Campsfield, and the draconian 2015 and 2016 Immigration Acts, are not enough. Nobody is challenging this - certainly not Corbyn. This is because he also accepts the need for a new border. Both May and Corbyn want this border to be porous for commodities and profits. The makers of those commodities will be denied free movement, whereas the takers of those profits will retain free movement. There is already a glaring gap, whereby Saudi Arabian billionaires with their domestic slaves, and Russian oligarchs with their gangster entourages have free movement (paying Tory MPs handsomely to look after their interests), whilst the cruelly injured victims of British bombs and arms sales in Syria and Yemen are excluded.  People as people get abandoned under any Brexit Deal.

What Brexit in any form will lead to is a new harsher system of immigration control. Both May and Corbyn are moving towards a form of the old German gastarbeiter system, whereby employers decide upon the labour they want. The state will enforce a hierarchy of contractual rights. These will determine the length of stay, the level of pay and working conditions, and access from other countries by family members. This will involve vastly increased state surveillance, which the Far Right will supplement by vigilante activity and worse. The Tories will relish this new opportunity for divide-and-rule, Corbyn will be shamefaced about it. However, the racist politics reinforced by any Brexit will dominate, since if you try and set up a new border, these go with the terrain. Lexit had not been able to escape this in the past, and nor would its revival be able to do so in the future. 


also see:-

1. Report of the Another Europe is Possible meeting held in Glasgow on 30.8.18

2. The case for an EU Ratification Referendum

3. RIC National Spring Conference, 10.3.18

4. The UK, Brexit and Self-Determination

5. The EU Referendum

Tuesday, 6 November 2018



Wednesday, November 14th, 9.00 - 12.30
Edinburgh International Conference Centre,
Morrison Street

see SUR statement on 


Nick Gott's of RIC-Edinburgh has also issued the following letter:-

I am writing to express my anger and disgust that the BBC and EBU are providing the far-right racist liar Steven Bannon a platform to repeat his lies at News Xchange 2018. The statements by the BBC and EBU defending this decision are  not simply unconvincing, but dishonest. It is claimed that an invitation “is not an endorsement of any position or viewpoint”. But I don’t believe for a moment the BBC and EBU would extend an invitation to an apologist for ISIS, or an overt Nazi. The invitation to Bannon, therefore, is an implicit statement that his views and actions lie within the range of acceptable expression and rational debate; it clearly normalises those views and actions.

That Bannon is both a racist and a liar is beyond honest dispute. His position in Trump’s inner circle both during and after the presidential campaign is sufficient evidence on its own, but more recently, he has told activists for the European far right to wear the labels of “racist” and “xenophobe” as a badge of pride, and while running the fake news website “Breitbart”, he was happy to propagate ridiculous and poisonous conspiracy theories and to play host to open white supremacists and holocaust deniers. He has declared, absurdly, that Donald Trump has never lied to the American public despite the copious and blatant falsehoods Trump repeats on a daily basis. He has described himself as an “anti-elitist” while being himself a multi-millionaire, and cheerleading for Trump’s cabinet of billionaires – a lie shamefully parroted by the BBC in describing him as “a powerful and influential figure… promoting an anti-elite movement”. He is a strong supported of “Tommy Robinson” – another racist liar (and in his case, convicted thug and fraudster) who the BBC has been only too happy to provide with a platform while he whines about being silenced.

News Xchange’s “statement of both philosophy and practice” claims that:

“What is demanded of each session is that it will be competent and well-infomed, representing honest opinions seriously held and convincingly expressed.”

But it is abundantly clear from previous interviews, such as those with the Financial Times, the Economist, and ABC News, that Bannon is not interested in, and probably not capable of, a discussion held in good faith. His response to justified charges of racism and dishonesty is generally to repeat his lies, while accusing his interlocutor of being part of the “liberal elite”. No new information will be gained  by providing him with yet another opportunity to reinforce his position as a “powerful and influential figure… promoting an anti-elite movement”. Why, indeed, would Bannon have accepted the invitation if he did not regard it as a useful step in his campaign of hatred? The invitation is the latest example of the disgraceful role the mass media have played in the rise of the far right, adopting a pose of studied neutrality as between facts and lies, while giving ample coverage to the latter, acting as megaphones for bigotry and “fake news”.

The News Xchange programme includes the sentence “We know that there are problems with trustin journalism.” There most certainly are – and your action in giving a platform to a racist liar shows that this lack of trust is abundantly justified.


Edinburgh-RIC Assembly, 31st October

The Palestinian Struggle and the IHRA Statement on Anti-Semitism

Speaker - Sarah Glynn of Scottish Jews Against Zionism
Facilitator - Pat Smith

Sarah's contribution can be seen at:-

This was followed by questions and contributions.

Three Labour Party members were present who talked about the impact of the IHRA in the Scottish Labour Party. Here it was the leaders of  Momentum/Campaign for Socialism which had suspended members without any hearing or appeal!

John Swinney's removal of Scottish government backing for  from the Israel-Palestine school resourced after lobbying by the Scottish  Friends of Israel was also raised.


The Scottish government adhere to the  the controversial IHRA Statement on Anti-Semitism.

Following the appearance of an organised Zionist group on a Scottish Stand Up to Racism march in Glasgow on March 17th, it was agreed to approach  the STUC organisers of  the St. Andrews Day match against racism, to ensure that any pro-apartheid Israeli Zionist group is excluded.


also see:- http://radicalindyedinburgh.blogspot.com/2018/10/ric-edinburgh-statement-on-ihra.html

Monday, 15 October 2018


 Wednesday, 31 October 2018, 19:00 
Augustine United Church
41 George IV Bridge

The UK  is one of the first countries to use the definition of anti-semitism, as agreed last May at a conference of the Berlin-based International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA).

A Downing Sreeet statement said that the intention of such a definition was to "ensure that the culprits will not be able to get away with being anti-semitic because the team is ill-defined, or because different organisations or bodies have different interpretations of it."

RIC-Edinburgh is hosting this event to explore how the IHRA statement may be used and how it could impact on the people of Palestine and their struggle for self-determination.

We are delighted that Sarah Glynn of Scottish Jews Against Zionism will introduce our discussion. 

Please come along and participate in the discussion.



The new RIC-Edinburgh banners on Johnstone Terrace one and a half hours before the AUOB march starts off

RIC's red flag bedecked Edinburgh Castle banner and the real Edinburgh Castle not yet flying a red 

Some well-kent RIC faces on the demo

Jonathon Shafi on the phone asking 'Where is Glasgow?"!

Palestinian and Catalan flags on the demo

Three photos of the RIC-led contingent on the Royal Mile - soon to become the Republican Mile!

Some of the queen's finest - AUOB stewards 'protect' 13 (unlucky) defenders of the 'White British' race

Two of the campaigns which joined the march - 'Trade Unionists for Independence' and 'NHS for Yes'

We're Scottish internationalist.....

... and we're young, nae feart and have hope and drive

RIC banners taking a rest in Hollyrood Park at the end of the demo - not a police officer or helicopter to be seen - truly a historic event (Historic Environment Scotland please note and raise a monument!)


Thanks for the photographs from Allan Armstrong, Pete Cannell, Grant Keir and Craig Maclean

Thursday, 4 October 2018


Wednesday, 3 October 2018


Massive demonstration in Barcelona in support of the Catalan Republic on October 1st.the anniversary of the independence referendum

Wednesday, September 19th, Augustine Church
Organising for the 'All Under One Banner' demo on October 6th 

Speakers - Alba Crespi - Coordinator for ANC Escocia, Assemblea Nacional Catalan                                                                                                                                                         

                   Allan Armstrong - RIC-Edinburgh 
Facilitator - Pat Smith
A report can be seen on youtube at:- 


The Labour Party has accepted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-semitism. This represents a significant blow to anti-racists. The IHRA is an interstate organisation with a membership of only 31 out of the UN's 193 states. Several of these are allies and arms suppliers to Israel. Other IHRA member states with a past and current record of domestic anti-semitism, such as Hungary and Poland, use their international support for Israel as a cover for their own racism. This is something quite acceptable to the Israeli state. Israel's PM, Benjamin Netanyahu backs Hungary's PM, Victor Orban. He openly supports "a Christian Europe", to which the even further Right add a "White" prefix. 

Israel an apartheid-type racist state - the Palestinians an oppressed people
In the 1930s and '40s, many Jewish people living in Europe increasingly saw Palestine as a haven from the mounting anti-semitism that culminated in the holocaust and the death of 6 million Jews and many others in Nazi death camps. The UK and other governments' lack of concern for Jewish people was highlighted when it severely clamped down on Jewish asylum seekers fleeing Nazi Germany in the aftermath of Kristallnacht in 1938, the mass killings following the invasion of eastern Europe in 1941 and then the death camps set up after the Wannsee Conference in 1942.  Not able to gain entry into the UK or the USA, some tried to make it to British-controlled Palestine, only to be drowned at sea. This is similar to the situation facing today's mainly Muslim refugees and migrants, who try to cross the Mediterranean. Many thousands have lost their lives. The UK has naval bases at Gibraltar and Cyprus, but these are there to back British military force in the region, not to rescue the victims of imperial actions and corporate greed. 

But the explicit aim of Israel's founders was to create a Jewish supremacist state, in complete disregard for the overwhelming majority of people already living in Palestine. That is racist to its core. The method adopted was colonial settlement, backed by force. In 1948, Israel was founded through terrorism and the mass ethnic cleansing of Palestinians - the Naqba. Ever since Israel's foundation, Palestinians have been systematically discriminated against, expelled from their homes, imprisoned, shot at, tortured and killed. 

All Israel's discriminatory actions, laws and now the latest nationality law, which gives state racism a constitutional status, highlight its reality as an apartheid-type state. The murder on one day this year, May 14th, of 60 demonstrators in Gaza has been termed the Palestinian 'Sharpeville'. This is in memory of the 69 black protestors killed by South African apartheid security forces in 1960. The parallels are only too clear. Would Labour have tolerated a Labour Friends of Apartheid South Africa? Yet the Israeli state was also one of the strongest supporters of Apartheid South Africa. This explains why, ever since the overthrow of Apartheid, South Africa has been to the forefront of the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign (BDS). This is designed to emulate the Boycott Apartheid South Africa campaign, which contributed to the ending of the old regime there. RIC-Edinburgh, on the basis of our Scottish internationalist principles, supports the BDS campaign.

By accepting the IHRA's definition of anti-semitism, rejected by 40 different Jewish organisations in 15 countries, a Labour Party member could now be expelled for declaring Israel to be what it is - a racist state. However, this is not just an issue for the Labour Party. It is part of the continuous Israeli state offensive to give it a free hand in the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, or their confinement to the 'bantustan' of the much-reduced West Bank and the 'ghetto' or mass prison camp of Gaza. 

People who have spoken up against Israeli state crimes have been targeted by various Jewish supremacist or Zionist organisations, which in the Labour Party include the Labour Friends of Israel (LFI). Not all Zionists are Jews. Tony Blair and Gordon Brown are prominent members of LFI. Non-Jewish Right-wingers find much to support in Israel. However, neither are all Jews Zionists, despite the claims of the Tory dominated Board of Deputies and the Labour Friends of Israel to speak for all Jews. We admire Scottish Jews against Zionism and other Jewish organisations, which have shown their opposition to the racist nature of the Israeli state and its many crimes against the Palestinian and neighbouring peoples.

Scottish unionist Lord Balfour's record of anti-semitism and the UK's handling of refugees fleeing repression  
Neither can we ignore the UK state's role in the founding of Israel. It was the Scottish Conservative and Unionist, Lord Balfour who drew up the Balfour Declaration 1917. This cynical exercise promised a 'Jewish Homeland' in a Palestine, which had already been promised to Arabs for their support in the First World War against the Ottoman Empire. Nobody consulted the people living in Palestine. 

Balfour had a record, both when it came to clearing people off the land and promoting anti-semitism. In 1885 as Scottish Secretary he sent gunboats to Tiree to quell crofters seeking security on their land. The following year, Balfour became the Irish Secretary. Once again he used force, this time to quell Irish tenant farmers, earning the name 'Bloody Balfour'. In 1905, Balfour, as Home Secretary, introduced the Aliens Act, which targeted Jewish refugees fleeing pogroms in Tsarist Russia. British supporters of the Balfour Declaration often wanted poor Jews to leave the UK and settle in Palestine. Again the link between anti-semitism at home and support for a Jewish state elsewhere is clear.

Today amongst the tens of thousands of refugees fleeing repression are Palestinians. Israel has created a 'hostile environment', which Theresa May can only envy. And the UK government remains a major supplier of arms to the Jewish supremacist state of Israel and the Islamic supremacist state of Saudi Arabia adding to the misery. We support the work of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, which has Moslem, Jewish, Christian and non-religious members and promotes Palestinian self-determination on democratic, secular and anti-racist grounds.

British racists welcome Israel's ethnic self-definition
Racist loudmouth, Katie Hopkins, Islamophobic Tory MP, Zac Goldsmith, suspended DUP MP Ian Paisley Junior, and neo-fascist Tommy Robinson support Israel's self-definition as an ethnocracy. They clearly see this as a precedent for their own versions of an ethnic Britishness. Both Gordon Brown and Michael Gove worked on ethnic/cultural tests before migrants can become British. David Cameron's restricted franchise for the EU referendum revealed the extent of the UK's acceptance of ethnic criteria for British nationality. On 12th September, all but one of the Tory MEPs voted at Strasbourg against Orban's Hungarian government being sanctioned. Both Orban and May support apartheid Israel. 

Defending a civic nation in Scotland 
In Scotland we have another important reason for rejecting the IHRA's acceptance of racial or ethnic nationalism. During IndyRef1 the 'Yes' campaign championed a civic Scotland, open to all who choose to live here - including Muslims and Jews. The franchise for IndyRef 1 included all EU residents and 16-18 year olds. This was in marked contrast to the ethnic franchise for the Tories' 2015 EU referendum. On the 6th September, as the Labour Party accepted Israel's self-definition as a Jewish ethnocracy, Nicola Sturgeon announced that any future IndyRef2 will be open to all residents who choose Scotland as their home. We welcome this. In rejecting the IHRA and its apologists, we support the idea and reality of Scotland as a civic nation. 

RIC-Edinburgh seeks to break free from the clutches of the UK state, its British imperialist delusions, and its support for ethnic or religious supramacist regimes. Another Scotland is possible; another Europe is possible; and another world is possible. 

RIC-Edinburgh  24.9.18

Tuesday, 11 September 2018


     The RIC National Forum held in Edinburgh RIC on August 11th, undertook to
host a republican and Scottish internationalist contingent for the 'All Under 
          Under Banner' demonstration in the city on October 6th. 

          There will be three new banners. The first will read:-

For an Independent Scotland
For Scottish Internationalism

          The second will read:-


   The RIC-Edinburgh banner, with its red-flag capped Edinburgh Castle and its 
          call for a Democratic, Secular Scottish Republic, has been seen on 
          many demonstrations.  However, following our work with Women's and 
          LBGTI groups, with the Scottish Greens and environmental groups, and with 
          social and economic campaigns and trade unionists, we are now updating this 

           We are calling upon people to join us with their own organisation and 
           campaign contingents, and with their own banners and materials. We are 
           asking people to bring red flags, Scottish republican flags, Catalan Republic 
           flags and Palestinian flags. 
                           Hope to see you all in Edinburgh on October 6th. 

For a fuller explanation of the background to the revived 'Yes' movement see:-



                                                                                                                            also see:-

Tuesday, 4 September 2018


The Sikh Gurdwara in Leith was severely damaged in an arson attack on 28th August. Th police suspect it is a hate crime and have arrested somebody in relation to this attack.

A vigil was organised on the Thursday evening of 30th August. Several hundred people attended. They mainly came from the immediate area in Leith and from Edinburgh. The organisers were very pleased at the turnout. RIC-Edinburgh members attended, but kept tour banner under wraps in acknowledgement of the nature of the vigil.



Allan Armstrong attended the meeting entitled organised by Another Europe Is Possible in Glasgow on 30th August. He was asked to write up his proposal for a Scottish-iniiated Ratification Referendum. This had been agreed at the RIC AGM on June 30th. (see http://radicalindyedinburgh.blogspot.com/2018/08/the-case-for-eu-ratification-referendum.html)



On Wednesday 30th August, The Left Against Brexit organised its first meeting in Scotland. Kirsty Haigh (Another Europe Is Possible) chaired the meeting in Strathclyde University Union. Tommy Sheppard (SNP), Maggie Chapman (Scottish Greens), Liam McCabe (NUS-Scotland President) and Michael Chessum (Labour Party and Momentum) addressed the meeting.

The platform speakers were largely agreed upon the need for a Left campaign against any likely Brexit deal, or the prospect of no deal. The negotiations remain in the hands of the May's Tory government, with the main pressure coming from the further Right, led by Jacob Rees-Mogg and Boris Johnson, and from Arlene Foster's DUP, dependent on the support of the Orange Order and the Loyalists. Thus, we all have an immediate interest in defending workers' pay and conditions, women's and minority rights, and environmental and consumer protection.

A number of contributors from the floor thought that the discrediting of Westminster politics meant priority should be given to winning independence for Scotland. Michael Chessum said that he appreciated that there were keen supporters of independence at the meeting, but he was not asking them to abandon or downplay this, anymore than he would his own support for a future Corbyn Labour government. However, opposition to a Tory Brexit deal or even No deal could still unite us.

Some supporters of Scottish independence did not see difference between the political situation during IndyRef1 and that during any possible future IndyRef2. But both sides in Indy Ref1 wanted Scotland to remain in the EU. This also meant that, if Scotland had won its political independence, there would be much less economic disruption. The EU would ensure the continuation of the free movement of people and of free trade. If the UK leaves the EU, then any new Scottish independence campaign would have to deal with the arguments about the economic disruption resulting from Brexit and leaving the UK. Project Fear would move into overdrive.

However, one thing should be clear. May's government is not going to allow any referendum, whether over Brexit, any Brexit deal, Scottish independence, or a Border Poll in Northern Ireland. At the moment there appears to be only one way to break this logjam. Holyrood can hold a Brexit deal referendum. A potential parliamentary majority already exists in the SNP and Green MSPs, and if Momentum in Scotland could win over some Labour MSPs this would add to the political impact.  It would also provide an immediate political focus for Another Europe Is Possible in Scotland. Furthermore, this would allow opponents of the Tories to take the initiative, instead of passively waiting for the outcome of the Brexit negotiations. This just leaves politics focussed upon Theresa May and her untenable Chequers Agreement, and Rees-Mogg and Boris Johnston putting forward their delusionary Empire 2, hard Brexit schemes. 

It is important that such any referendum should be over a Brexit deal or no deal - a Ratification Referendum. Scotland has already voted to Remain. There was a 62% majority, far larger than for any No vote elsewhere in the UK. Furthermore, this was achieved despite the rigged franchise. Whatever, the limitations of the White Paper, which accompanied the Scottish government's official Yes campaign in 2014, it outlined the manner in which it saw independence being implemented. Neither of the two Brexit campaigns made any attempt to do this, and issued contradictory statements. Thus a Ratification Referendum would also allow us to win over those, who voted for Brexit, but not for the versions of Brexit now being pushed by various figures in the Tory government. 

But, even more importantly, a Holyrood Ratification Referendum can base itself on the civic national precedent set by IndyRef1. EU residents and all those between 16-18 would get the vote. The racist exclusion of migrants in the Brexit referendum was a disgrace. Prominent Brexiteers avoid taxation and salt away their incomes in overseas tax havens, whilst EU migrant workers pay UK taxes. A big majority of young people are hostile to Brexit, and the chauvinism and racism it has promoted. 

Holding a Holyrood Ratification Referendum would place Scotland once more to the forefront of democratic change in these islands. Providing a civic national and Scottish internationalist example of how to conduct a referendum would put pressure on Westminster. This could follow the collapse of the May's Tory government, because of her inability to get her Chequers deal through parliament. A general election would be a quite likely result. This would give renewed opportunity both for independence supporters and for Corbyn supporters to campaign. 

This would be the situation in which Michael Chessum's acknowledgement of the different politics of those involved in the Left Against Brexit would come to the fore. However, there could still be some political basis for further political cooperation. It seems very unlikely that Corbyn-led Labour could win an absolute majority of UK seats at Westminster. Therefore he would need to approach other parties to be able to form a government. The SNP actually has better record of voting with Corbyn for progressive legislation in Westminster, than the right wing of his own party! It would be a strong indication that Labour had at last broken with Right unionism, if it could seek support from SNP MPs to implement its manifesto commitments, in return for agreeing to Holyrood conducting IndyRef2. Indeed, for the forseeable future, this is the only likely way that such a referendum could gain legal backing. 

There is a principled political basis for future cooperation in the Left Against Brexit campaign. This would mean opposing the strengthening of the UK's anti-democratic powers by upholding the right of self-determination. The Tories are even tearing up the limited Devolution deal brought forward under New Labour. Furthermore, continued cooperation would mean championing workers, women's and minority rights; and defending the free movement of people. 

Or as a celebrated Scottish internationalist, Hamish Henderson, once declared - 'Freedom Come All Ye!'

Allan Armstrong, Radical Independence Campaign, 31.8.18

This was first posted at:-  https://www.anothereurope.org/holyrood-must-take-the-lead/ 
2. A Letter sent in reply to reply to Iain McWhirter's Voices article of 7.10.18

Iain MacWhirter's Voices article on 7.10.18 suggests that if Nicola Sturgeon backs a People's Vote at Westminster, this "would give her energetic but increasingly despondent troops something to do." One problem with this is that the SNP MPs do not control events at Westminster. So, such an eventuality depends on others - dissident Tories, uncertain Labour, the Lib-Dems, Plaid Cymru and the one Green. They are a far from coherent political force - which in some ways is just as well! Furthermore, the anti-democratic nature of Westminster, especially its first-past-the post system, gives the Tories a dominant position that does not reflect political reality in the UK at large, especially Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. This is made even worse with the Tories being in coalition with the pro-Brexit DUP. They do not even represent the view of the electorate in Northern Ireland, who voted to remain in the EU. 

The net result of this lack of democracy at Westminster is that the only parliamentary forces currently determining the nature of Brexit are May and her backers on one hand, and Johnson and Rees Mogg backed by the DUP on the other. And as long as May can hold the Tories together, the government can ensure that the current political paralysis prevails and the options are confined to these two unpalatable alternatives. Even in England and Wales they represent a minority view. Many Brexit voters were originally persuaded that the UK could still remain in the customs union and free market. But Labour are as divided as the Tories, so if we accept that Westminster calls the shots, all we can do is sit and wait, whilst politics is dragged even further Right. 

Sometimes, the argument is made that supporting another referendum on Brexit would leave the door open to the overthrow of any future IndyRef2 result. This analogy does not hold. Back in 2014, the SNP government offered a White Paper showing what they considered to be the consequences of voting for Scottish independence. In 2016, neither wing of the Brexiteers, the Tory Right nor UKIP, offered us anything. If there is an analogy, it is between a vote on the outcome of the Brexit negotiations and the vote the Scottish people would have to make over any new constitution following a successful independence referendum. 

This points the way to the nature of the new referendum needed and where it needs to be conducted. We do not want a rerun of the 2016 vote. After all, people in Scotland made it very clear where we stand - 62%, including every single council area, voted to Remain.  What is required is a Ratification referendum over the proposed deal. Many who were drawn into voting for Brexit did not do so to complete the Thatcherite counter-revolution.  Yet the only two positions now in contention at Westminster are variations on this. The aim of a Ratification referendum should be to get an even bigger majority against the current Brexit proposals than was won for Remain, by winning over some of those who were conned the last time. 

And the way to break this logjam is not for the SNP government to give backing to some putative Westminster People's Vote, but to get Holyrood to hold its own Ratification referendum. Such a referendum should ensure that all EU residents and 16-18 year olds are given the vote, as was the case in IndyRef1. The denial of the vote to these people in the Brexit referendum was a disgrace, and represented a pandering to ethnic British nationalism.  Nicola Sturgeon's call for all residents to be given the vote in future Scottish referenda provides an even better example for democrats in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

What would be the result of holding such a referendum?  A Holyrood Ratification referendum would place enormous pressure on Westminster to follow. Just as importantly it could provide an example the wider franchise needed, which included those most affected. It would also represent a defeat for May, who wants to avoid any democratic vote. The call of the Brexiteers to 'take back control' was never meant to increase popular democracy, but to allow the anti-democratic UK state to 'take back control'. We can see this in Scotland, where even the limited post-1998 devolution settlement is now under attack. And if Westminster was still unmoved, a decisive rejection of any Tory Brexit deal in Scotland could also provide a renewed impetus for the Scottish independence campaign.  But any future Scottish vote on independence, if Brexit goes ahead, should still be separated from vote on EU membership. Democrats should not combine two separate issues in one vote. 

Best of all, holding a Ratification referendum means that the political initiative  would pass back to Scotland, and not just the SNP's  "increasingly despondent" troops identified by Iain. After all, there were 85,000 far from despondent people on the streets of Edinburgh, including many SNP members, on October 6th. The loud singing of 'Freedom Come All Ye', as we marched past the assembled choir, represented the very best of the Scottish internationalist tradition needed to challenge the decaying UK political system fronted by a decadent Westminster. On September 18th, 2014 we saw not a defeated, but a thwarted democratic revolution. The need for its renewal is so much starker today.

Allan Armstrong, 8.10.18