EDINBURGH RIC – WORKING OUR WAY FORWARD
Facilitator – Bob Goupillot
21 people attended. 2 sent their apologies
Allan Armstrong outlined the work that Edinburgh RIC had done, as already posted at
Pete Ca and Willie put the case against continuing with a RIC national organisation. (see
The reply to these arguments were not raised at the meeting, which the Organising Meeting of 11.2.21 had decided should deal with proposals for future Edinburgh RIC activity.
However, the arguments for reviving RIC as a national organisation can be seen at :-
- https://republicansocialists.scot/2021/02/ric-is-dead-long-live-ric-2-0/ – Grant Buttars
- http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2021/02/06/freedom-come-all-ye-resisting-the-ric-terminators/) – Allan Armstrong
Luke said there were other significant national developments, such as All Under One Banner and the Socialist Independence Group (which had emerged within the SSP)
Reports from other RIC local group experiences
Grant supplemented Edinburgh RIC experience with the possibilities of a revived RIC group in Fife, with possible activity around Moss Moran and Raytheon.
Emily talked about the work that Dundee and Glasgow RIC had done. They had held a successful meeting led off by Drugs Reform campaigner, Peter Krykant. This had even pushed Dundee City Council into taking some limited action.
Edinburgh RIC discussions and proposals
A) An Edinburgh RIC Statement
Stephen had said that it was important to get out an Edinburgh RIC statement emphasising the continuation of the local group. It was agreed that Stephen should draft a statement for the open Edinburgh RIC Organising Meeting on 8.3.21the next meeting
B) Now Scotland
Pete Cr thought we should be taking the opportunity to influence the new mass movement in Scotland – Scotland Now ( the successor to All Under One Banner). We shouldn’t leave it to others. The political situation was changing rapidly. The Holyrood election was likely to see a strengthening of the Scottish Greens. He thought we should be advocating a local Now Scotland group in Edinburgh. Willie also emphasised the working class nature of Now Scotland. He thought that George Kerevan (Now Scotland convenor) should be invited to address an Edinburgh RIC meeting.
Lyn said that we shouldn’t associate ourselves with particular individuals. Stephen raised his concerns about Kerevan’s past. Eric pointed to the socially reactionary nature of some of those prominent in Now Scotland. . He had an acquaintance – a very active left-of-centre independence campaigner in the run-up to the independence referendum, who had told him she would never consider being involved in Now Scotland because of the views of some current prominent members – and Eric commented that he thought this might be a fairly widely held view and that he would himself need strong convincing to participate.* Grant also expressed concerns about Now Scotland.
George argued that we should be able to ride two horses at once and develop Edinburgh RIC, but also form a republican and socially progressive pole within Now Scotland. Allan highlighted the work Edinburgh RIC had done in trying to persuade RIC and the wider Scottish Left of the significance of All Under One Banner (https://www.conter.co.uk/blog/2018/9/7/the-yes-movement-the-left). He had attended their last open national meeting for RIC in February 2020 and also the two founding meetings of what has become Now Scotland.
Since Now Scotland was area of controversy, it was agreed that involvement would initially be more fully discussed at the Organising Meeting.
C) Important economic and social issues
Lyn said we needed to address issues which challenge the SNP government. He thought that small groups could still be quite influential. They can form wider e-mail groups. We can also work through other groups. Jane added that she thought that Edinburgh RIC had been a very good organisation, but that we should take the time to decide on our overall approach. Lyn and Jane suggested that a) a Critique of the Growth Commission b) Currency and c) Universal Basic Income were important issues which Edinburgh RIC could address. Emily emphasised the importance of Feminism and in particular the issue of Abortion Rights. Willie added Climate Change and agreed that Women’s Rights should be proposed topics for discussion.
George raised the idea of having discussions on deeper political issues such as republicanism and their link with real economic and social reforms. There was still much to be learned from the debate between Edmund Burke and Tom Paine, which Bernadette McAliskey had also highlighted at an earlier RIC conference.
The meeting agreed that economic and social issues would be more fully discussed at the Organising Meeting.
D) Election Hustings
One area where there was general agreement was that Edinburgh RIC should try to repeat its successes in 2015, 2017 and 2019 and organise a hustings for the Holyrood elections in May. This was suggested by both Allan and Willie. Nick (Scottish Greens) pointed it the significance of the Scottish Greens in this election. They supported another independence referendum, rejected sterling as Scotland’s currency, were committed to a Green New Deal and its leadership is based on the 50:50 principle. The Scottish Greens are to the left of Labour under Corbyn.
It was agreed that the organisation of a hustings would be discussed at the Organising Meeting.
D) 3rd Scottish Radical History Event
Allan raised the issue of Edinburgh RIC sponsoring its third Scottish Radical History event around the theme of John Maclean. This could also be a cultural event with poets and musicians. He had been in contact with Ray B (who had given his apologies for this evening’s meeting). Ray had some specific proposals . Pete urged caution since we did not know whether we could get the speakers or the money. Allan agreed that we would need a Working Group (as for the 1st and 2nd Scottish Radical History Conferences) to examine the possibilities. The issue of who might wish to join such a Working Group would be raised at the Organising Meeting.
E) Edinburgh RIC as a clearing house for campaigns and struggles
George emphasised Edinburgh RIC’s role as a ‘clearing house’ for campaigns and struggles in the city, nationally and internationally. Edinburgh RIC had gained wider credibility for the role had undertaken in this. It was able to attract people from other Left backgrounds, e.g. Labour, who did not necessarily support RIC’s aims.
It was agreed that this aspect of Edinburgh RIC’s work should continue. Whatever struggles were taking place forming part of the agendas of RIC meetings. Emily had already highlighted Abortion Rights. Pete and Stephen had emphasised the importance of the Cop26 conference later this year.
F) Support for the Dundee Glasgow RIC meeting on the Catalan elections
Allan raised and Willie supported Edinburgh RIC giving its backing to the forthcoming Dundee/Glasgow RIC meeting on the outcome of the Catalan elections. We could approach Edinburgh RIC member, Gerry Mulvenna to sing at this event. Gerry had written In Defence of Our Professor (Carla Ponsati) (https://edinburghric.files.wordpress.com/2020/04/defending-clara-ponsati-23.3.18-1.pdf), Support for this meeting was agreed by the Assembly.
It was agreed that the next Edinburgh RIC Organising Meeting will be on Monday, 8.3.21 at 18.00. Bob Goupillot will arrange the Zoom meeting and will act as co-Facilitator with Pat Smith.
Allan Armstrong, 2.3.21
- Eric later clarified (in post-meeting correspondence) that that was why he thought RIC Edinburgh should take a formal position on Now Scotland, issuing a statement along the lines that any participation by RIC members in that organisation did not imply endorsement of the actions or views of any of the other Now Scotland participants with regard to anything other than the principle of independence, or support for anything other than an egalitarian, socialist and republican independent Scotland.