Thursday, 23 August 2018


RIC-Edinburgh joined the RIC-Dundee and Dundee Against Austerity contingents on the 'All Under One Banner' march held in Dundee on 18th August. There were flags from many countries, with Catalunya featuring prominently, as well from Ireland, Wales and England. The Lothians-based Trade Unionists for Independence banner was also there.

The march of 16,000 people went from Baxter Park to Magdalene Green. The local SNP MP, Chris Law, emphasised Dundee's radical links. William Wallace had been educated in Dundee, whilst Magdalene Green had been used by Chartist and Women's Suffrage campaigners.

Tuesday, 14 August 2018


We have 123 members

a.         RIC- Edinburgh Assemblies

i)         30.5.18 - Rail Nationalisation 

            Speaker- Craig Dalzell, Commonwealth Head of Policy & Research
            Facilitator - Pat Smith

            A report can be seen at:- 


ii)        30.6.18 - What Now for the Scottish Independence Movement?

            Speaker - Jonathon Shafi, RIC National Convenor
            Facilitator - Pat Smith

            A report can be seen at:- 


iii)       25.7.18 The Resistable Rise of the Far Right - How do the Build the Resistance?

            Speaker - Willie Black - Trade unionist, community activist and campaigner against the   
            Far Right
            Facilitator - Eileen 

            A report can be seen at:-


b)         30.6.18 - RIC National AGM - Glasgow

            5 people from Edinburgh attended.

            A full report can be seen at:-

            i)          Action taken in support of motions;-

            ii)         Discussion on All Under One Banner events at National Forum, 1.8.18

c.         RIC-Edinburgh Organising Meetings

            i)    30.4.18 
            ii)   4.6.18 
            iii)  3.7.18 
            iv)  31.7.18 

d.         Next RIC-Edinburgh Assembly

            18.9.18, 19.00  - Organising for the All Under One Banner demo in Edinburgh on    
            Saturday, October 6th
            Speakers from RIC, Catalan Solidarity Campaign and Scottish CND

e.         Other events supported by RIC-Edinburgh

i)         10.5.18 - Solidarity with Shabaz Ali, Tollcross 

ii)        15.5.18 - The New Scottish Social Security Bill - What It Will Mean To You? 15.5.18, 
            Muirhouse Millennium Centre  

iii)       25.5.18 - Public Meeting to save Edinburgh Central Library, Central Hall

iv)        Connolly150 Event, Augustine Church, 2.6.18
            Speakers:-  The Lives of Connolly- 12.15-14.00 - Chair, Roisin  Mclaren                                      
                                    Peter Buckingham - Professor of History, Linfield  College, Oregon                                             
                                    Brian Hanley - Historian, Edinburgh University
                                    Frankie Quinn - 1916 Society, County Tyrone
                                    Chloe Alexander - Lecturer, Aberdeen University
                                    Connolly Lives- Chair, David Maguire
                                    Alan McCombes - Author and land campaignee 
                                    Donal Fallon - Dublin historian and broadcaster
                                    Paul Mclaughlin - Community activist and Project, Manager of MOJO                                            

            Performance of James Connolly's playUnder Which Flag - Spartaki Theatre Company
            Musicians - Gerry Mulvenna, Stephen Dodds

v)         14.7.18 - Anti-Trump Protest, Edinburgh

iv)        30.7.18 - Where Now for Catalan Independence? Edinburgh University
            A report can seen at:-

Saturday, 4 August 2018


COMMONSPACE held a forum at the University of Edinburgh on 30 July on where now for Catalan independence, co-sponsored by Bella Caledonia and ANC Scotland. 
Speakers: SNP MP for Edinburgh West Joanna Cherry; co-authors of Catalonia Reborn George Kerevan and Chris Bambery; human rights lawyer Aamer Anwar; head of the Catalan National Assembly Elisenda Paluzie. There was also a surprise guest appearance from exiled Catalan former Education Minister and St Andrews University professor Clara Ponsati.
 A full report of this can be seen at:-

Wednesday, 1 August 2018


Speaker - Willie Black - Trade unionist, community activist and campaigner against the Far Right

Facilitator - Eileen 

 Willie's introduction can be seen at:-  

There was followed a discussion to which everyone contributed

The following issues were raised:-

1.      How much success can be claimed by the Left for the failure of the SDL again to mobilise significant forces in Glasgow on July 15th? Their poor showing was to be welcomed compared to the Football Lads Alliance's (FLA) 15,000 strong march in London in support of Tommy Robinson. However, the police had put a strict 100 maximum on the SDL, a half hour maximum presence and had then completely kettled them in. Although the Left again considerably outnumbered them SDL, the numbers were not enough considering the growing opportunities for the Right since the Brexit vote, and the support Trump has given to the Far Right, including Tommy Robinson. 

Steve Hedley, the assistant general secretary of the RMT, had been physically attacked after the Far Right demo in England. There were RMT members at the Glasgow anti-Far Right demo, but certainly no large-scale mobilisation.

2.      The world we now face is different from the past. Many young workers, who are on temporary or zero hours contracts, working in several jobs, are not members of unions. Not only has trade union membership declined, but where it can still be found, most members have relatively little contact with official union structures. Many young people are very suspicious of parties, seeing them only as a means to advance careers.

A lot of the Far Right activity took place on-line, with widely read Alt-Right websites. For young people the motivating factor in opposing the Far Right is opposition to their sexism, homophobia and anti-trans activities. Most young people also have friends from abroad whom they work with, and they want to oppose the anti-migrant actions of the Far Right, following the stepped up physical attacks on migrants since the Brexit vote.

The strength of UKIPs support, particularly in the North and Midlands of England, was due to its appeal to a fragmented, atomised and alienated working class, devastated by Thatcher's' de-industrialisation offensive. Atomised people look to saviours (Farage and Trump) and scapegoats (migrants and asylum seekers).  However, the current teacher strikes in the Trump heartlands of West Virginia, Kentucky and Arizona showed the possibilities for a new type of organisation that extended beyond the traditional unions and involved their local communities. 

There had also been significant Left and related currents since 2008, including Syriza, Podemos, Corbyn in England, and Sanders in the USA. IndyRef1 had a very high mobilisation amongst the working class. The Catalan Republic independence vote also was a blow against the Spanish state, the Rajoy government and the Right 

3.      The continued deep cuts in local services in England has further broken up working class communities. However, the cuts have also provided an opportunity for community campaigning. This could sometimes bring the Left into contact with people who blamed migrants for particular problems, as Willie had found out with housing campaigners in north Edinburgh. However, drawing people into action, and showing the connections between those suffering the consequences of the cuts, and pointing to those really responsible, was a good method of overcoming racist attitudes.

         It was also pointed out that although still not so advanced in Scotland as in England, Scottish local councils were also imposing punitive cuts now, as in the case of East Dunbartonshire local council.   

4.      The difficulties of creating a wider anti-Far Right alliance were raised. Many SNP and Labour supporters were not prepared to undertake joint activities, which involved the presence of the other party. In addition, the Left was still suffering from the aftermath of Tommygate, with people boycotting events, which gave a platform to either side in the original dispute.

5.      There had been a move to the Right in the SNP leadership, marked by their pushing of the Growth Commission report. Even, in the non-party Yes groups, there are people who oppose any public opposition to this neo-liberal, pro-austerity report, because they say it feeds into Labour's agenda, since the rise of Corbyn and Leonard. Robin MacAlpine of Commonweal has come under attack from the hard Scottish nationalists. Meanwhile, beyond the ranks of the SNP and independent Yes campaign organisers, an ethnic Scottish nationalism has resurfaced in the form of Soil nan Gaidheal. They have been trying to push anti-English feeling, under the cover of opposing "Tory scum" (the Tories in England control the government, therefore the English in Scotland are Tory agents).

6.      Those in the independent Yes groups who were opposed to the raising of other issues, like the Growth Commission, anti-austerity, the monarchy, etc, often shared an opposition to these with the Left. However they argued that all these issues should be set aside for now, and can be addressed after independence was gained. The Left can argue that if the current Scottish business owners and senior state managers are left in control, then possession is nine-tenths of the law, and their 'independent' Scotland would continue to be run in their interests. However, there was another argument, which could be taken into the Yes groups. The SNP leadership no longer has a viable strategy to bring about the independence they want. The defeat of IndyRef1 and the move to the Right, following the Brexit vote, means that the Tory/DUP coalition is not going to concede an IndyRef2. It is also unlikely the SNP leadership will take up the Catalan option. The organisers of the unofficial Catalan referendum, included republicans (Republican Left-EL) and socialists (Popular Unity Candidacy - CUP), are far more acutely aware of the Spanish monarchist semi-fascist legacy than the SNP or many independence supporters in Scotland are of the Crown Powers possessed by the UK state. So far these people have gone little beyond opposition to two aspects of the UK state - Westminster and the BBC. 

One of the things RIC should be doing in the independent Yes movement is to patiently explain the wider activities of the UK state. In one sense the present government is doing our job for us, highlighted by its rolling back of the Devolution-all-round settlement. This makes RIC’s republican arguments more relevant. Republicanism doesn't just consist of ending of the monarchy, after Scottish independence has been won, but opposing the state's Crown Powers now. 

One possibility for RIC to counter Scottish ethnic nationalists anti-English racism would be to focus people's attention on the main political cause of the damage: the UK state; e.g. have a banner with 'The UK out of Scotland; Scotland out of the UK'.

7.      As well as the Far Right beginning to attack trade unionists in England, in Scotland they see independence supporters as a major enemy. Corbyn and left leaning trade union leaders and the SNP are all within the sights of the Far Right.  This could be seen in the Loyalist and triumphalism in Glasgow on the day IndyRef1 was defeated. The SNP is the subject of strong Loyalist antipathy, and this has extended to the Orange Order inviting the DUP's Arlene Foster to Scotland, in order to oppose Sturgeon, the SNP and IndyRef2, and to cement hard core unionism. 

The Left needs to work hard to ensure that both Labour and SNP supporters can come together to build a wider anti-Far Right movement. In contributing to the building of this movement RIC can show the possibility of uniting Labour and SNP supporters. RIC had already shown the possibility of bringing such forces together in the successful conference held in Edinburgh in March:-

The shared basis for cooperation should include the recognition of the right of self-determination. This did not divide people between pro- and anti-independence.If the right to hold IndyRef 2 was conceded, under a government of a different complexion (e.g. Corbyn Labour needing SNP support to get a majority), then pro- and anti-Scottish independence could be fought out in IndyRef2.

8.      Willie added a cautionary note, saying that the Orange Order and the fascists were not identical. He saw the need to open up a divide between these two forces, drawing on a precedent from an earlier   demonstration in Edinburgh where the Orange Order and the National Front were kept separate. He also said that work was afoot to try and create an anti-Far Right football alliance in Scotland, but he hoped it would be lads and lasses!

9.      There was general agreement at the meeting that the current anti-Far Right forces, including Unite Against Fascism, would need to bring new forces together, with specific appeals to Labour and SNP, to give their public support.  RIC has never seen itself as an organisation, which attempts to set up new front organisations, but has always offered its support to bona fide campaigns, which advance the interests of the working class and oppressed groups. RIC would support such an initiative.


The following motion was passed at the RIC AGM on June 30th.     

1.      This meeting recognises that a majority of the Scottish people voted to remain in the European Union.

2.     We condemn the Tories imposing a hard anti-working class ‘all British Exit’ on Scotland.

3.     We call on the Scottish government to hold a ratification referendum on the Tory deal. 

4.     We note that if a majority of the Scottish people vote against the Tory deal this would be a justification to trigger a second Independence referendum.


Allan Armstrong wrote a letter to The National in support of this, which was published on 24.7.18.

In The National of 23.7.18, Carolyn Leckie has raised the idea of the Scottish government holding a rerun of the 2016 EU referendum. Like Carolyn, and for similar reasons, I voted to Remain in 2016. I have even less illusions in the EU than Carolyn. I recognise that the EU, unlike the UK, is not a state with is own army or police force, but is a treaty organisation between existing member states. But therein lies the rub for neither Scotland nor Catalunya are states, so their national concerns are not recognised by the EU. 

However, the UK state has even more of a stranglehold over Scotland, and the purpose of those in charge of Brexit, is to further centralise state power to protect the rich and powerful. They want to undermine the employment and welfare conditions for both UK subjects and EU residents. Or as Nigel Lawson has put it, "Brexit will complete Margaret Thatcher's economic revolution", only this time not in alliance with Ronald Reagan, but with Donald Trump.

I would suggest that better than a rerun of the 2016 EU referendum, would be a Ratification referendum. Brexiteers never provided any plans in the event of a Leave vote, and we are now witnessing the shambolic consequences. So a new referendum should be over the conditions of the proposed Brexit deal. It is highly unlikely that Yes voting Leavers, or indeed even some No voting Labour Leavers, are happy with the Brexit deal now being pushed by the Tory Right and DUP, mightily helped by the anti-democratic nature of the UK state. 

The Brexit vote did split the Yes movement, even if the Remain vote was not only overwhelming, but also formed a majority right across Scotland.  Yet, a third of the original Yes supporters voted Leave. Thus, a Ratification referendum would provide the possibility for reuniting both Yes Remainers and Leavers. Both May, and sadly Corbyn, continue to hide behind the dubious 'democratic mandate' of the Leave vote, despite the rigged franchise, with the exclusion of EU residents and 16-18 year olds (in contrast to IndeyRef1) and, as Carolyn points out, "the daily exposure of breaches of electoral law." But a call for a rerun referendum would most likely strengthen the hard Right in England. However, many Brexiteers would find it much harder to oppose a Ratification referendum, bringing "power back to the people", than a rerun of the 2016 EU referendum.  

A successful Ratification referendum in Scotland would increase the pressure to hold a wider referendum, or to trigger a general election in the UK. Either of these could undermine the continuing slide to the Right in UK politics and lead to a break in the current political logjam, which is only aiding the Tory and further Right. However,  any continued attempts by May and the Tory Right to obstruct the likely outcome of aRatification referendum in Scotland could also provide a more effective spur to either IndyRef2, or whatever form the next stage of the Scottish democratic movement takes. 


George Kerevan, SNP ex-MP, had also written the following article in The National, which had already been circulated to RIC supporters before the AGM.

THERE is a general feeling of disorientation among SNP activists following the General Election. I’m blaming no-one: politics is a rough business and after a decade in power at Holyrood the party could not hope to have everything permanently its own way. Or see our political opponents remain forever on the back foot.

However, in the month since the election there has been an uncharacteristic void regarding what we might call the party’s “project”. The First Minister is still talking about an independence referendum after the outcome of the Brexit negotiations are clear. But the precise date for this has become opaque. Gone is the call for an independence vote some time between autumn 2018 and spring 2019.

Instead, the priority now is to get the best Brexit deal possible, defined as staying inside the single market and (more improbably if England quits the EU) staying inside the customs union. There is much to commend this strategy. Scotland voted 62:38 for Remain, and leading on that issue puts pressure on the Ruth Davidson Party and the anti-Corbyn Scottish Labour Party. But this thrust also has a number of inherent weaknesses.

For starters, unless Corbyn seriously takes up the fight, there is no effective majority in the Commons for staying in the single market. In fact, Corbyn whipped the majority of his MPs into abstaining on a Labour rebel motion backing this very policy. As a result, Theresa May is off the hook. And the Tory government has set its face resolutely against remaining in the single market or the customs union and that won’t change.

Of course, Ian Blackford and his doughty band of SNP MPs at Westminster will fight for Scottish inclusion in the Brexit negotiations. They will set down a lot of creative amendments and keep the Tories out of their beds by calling numerous late-night votes. But I can’t see the Conservatives taking heed unless we find a bigger political stick with which to threaten them. Yet we have abandoned indyref2, at least for the time being.

True, with the help of the SNP and dissident Labour MPs, the pro-City wing of the Conservative Party (championed by Chancellor Philip Hammond) might win a lengthy transition period before the UK quits all EU economic institutions — perhaps five years, maybe a decade. However, such a tactical delay can hardly be represented as a major victory. And it clouds even further the decision over when (if ever) to call for a second independence referendum.

So can anything be done to recover the political initiative in Scotland? Here’s a suggestion: the SNP government at Holyrood should announce it will hold a unilateral referendum on the outcome of the Brexit negotiations, circa the spring or early summer of 2019. Note: this is not an independence vote. It is designed purely to let the people of Scotland give their view on the Brexit deal, whatever it is. (The Scottish Government should lobby the devolved parliaments and assemblies in Wales, Northern Ireland and London to follow suit – a combined electorate of around ten million.) This strategy has the advantage of putting matters squarely back in the hands of the Scottish electorate and away from the corridors of Westminster and the machinations of Oxbridge-educated civil servants. Of course, such a vote would be non-binding on the Tory government. But it would shift the dynamic of the EU debate to Scotland. Instead of the SNP government being a spectator in the Brexit negotiations, it would be in a position to determine public opinion. It also gives the SNP some muscle in demanding participation in the Brexit negotiations: David Davies and his team would know that the European Commission can look over their shoulders and appeal directly to Scottish voters when it comes to staying in the single market. Giving Scottish voters a direct voice makes it less easy for Davies and the Tories to ignore their opinions or that of the Scottish Government. I doubt if wobbly Theresa May will accede to handing negotiations over to a commission of the devolved nations – that’s a pipe dream. But a consultative referendum puts real pressure on her and Davies to come north to address directly Scottish concerns on Europe.

EVEN if the Tories reject the call for an independent negotiating commission, the Scottish Government can still establish its own, in order to feed into the Brexit discussions. This might consist of business people, representatives of EU citizens working and domiciled locally, local authorities, trades unions, the churches and civic Scotland. Such an independent EU Negotiations Commission north of the Border would make it more difficult for the Conservatives to dismiss Scottish demands to stay in the single market – at least without paying a political price.

There’s more. Calling a Scottish referendum on the outcome of the Brexit negotiations would force Ruth Davidson and Kezia Dugdale to relate to Scottish voters directly, which limits their ability to prevaricate or dissemble on Europe and the economy. Of course, both are likely to dismiss a local referendum on the final Brexit deal as an SNP manoeuvre. Let them.

If we go ahead with such a vote – and we should – Davidson and Dugdale either have to get on board or risk becoming politically irrelevant on Europe.
A second EU vote – after we know the true facts on Brexit – also allows the SNP to reconnect with its supporters who have doubts on Europe, many of whom abstained at the General Election. We are not asking these folk to change their minds on Brexit as such. Instead, we are giving them a chance to make a considered judgment on the real economic outcome of quitting the EU. And yes, we have to consider the possibility that people will vote to accept the Brexit outcome. But it will be an SNP government that gives them that democratic choice.

The bottom line on such an initiative is that Scotland might create a political momentum across the UK that keeps Britain in the single market. That would mitigate the worst of the economic fallout from the original Brexit vote in 2016. It would also be a political blow to the Tory and Farage right wing and would help split the Conservative Party.

But what of independence? To hold and win an independence referendum requires the SNP to recover national momentum. We do that by seizing control of the EU agenda from the Tories in London, by offering the Scottish people a deliberative vote on the outcome of the Brexit negotiations. If London refuses for a second time to accept Scotland’s wish to stay in the single market, then the door opens to a second independence referendum.

In politics, there are no magic bullets. Calling a post-negotiation referendum is only part of the story. The SNP government has to show decisively it is has not succumbed to being part of the political establishment. We need radical measures on the economy, including the creation of an interventionist Scottish Investment Bank.

But equally, politics always abhors a vacuum. After the General Election, the SNP can’t simply revert to governing Scotland well and keeping its fingers crossed. We need to take control. A post-negotiation referendum allows us to do that.

This was originally posted at:-