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Irish Left Archive: “TUC Hands off Ireland!” Revolutionary Communist Tendency (UK) – later the Revolutionary Communist Party, c.1981 October 19, 2009

Posted by irishonlineleftarchive in Irish Left Online Document Archive, Revolutionary Communist Tendency (UK).
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cover RCT

RCT TUC

This document from the Revolutionary Communist Tendency (UK) is perhaps worthy of particular consideration as an example of Irish related material from the UK, and not merely for its content but also for the fact that the RCT eventually underwent a transformation into the Revolutionary Communist Party which later birthed the contrarians of Spiked. Although the RCP was infamous for its policy positions, and Living Marxism later still for its, one often unnoticed aspect of their platform – at least subsequently – was a very strong identification with Irish independence. This document here can be viewed within that context and while its overall purpose is one that is linked to UK internal politics, and particularly that of the left and the TUC, it is in its analysis of Ireland that it is of most relevance to the Archive.

Very briefly this takes a line that ‘the official labour movement has failed to support eh demands for political status of republican prisoners of war in the Six Counties of Northern Ireland… yet the British TUC interferes in the affairs of the Irish people through the Better Life for All Campaign and the call for a Bill of Rights. TUC Irish policy is simply a cover for its complicity in British repression throughout the Irish War’

Worse again, from the RCT perspective, the TUC refused to endorse the Smash the Prevention of Terrorism Act Campaign “TUC Hands off Ireland!” conference, and had actively barring trades councils from participating in it.

Inside the document takes a strongly pro-Republican movement viewpoint couched in the language of class struggle (and note a message from IRSP prisoners to the Conference)…

Anybody who has read and thought about the conflict in ireland, or visited Belfast or Derry, knows that the two main adversaries in this war are the republican movement and the British State, and yet the media always present ‘the troubles’ as a sectarian feud between Catholics and Protestants. The first peculiarity of the Irish War, therefore is that its real character as a national liberation struggle is always obscured and denied in Britain.

And the pamphlet argues that ‘what is so special about the Irish War that its existence has to be denied… the answer is simple. The War in Ireland is an immediate and mortal threat to the British ruling class’.

Intriguingly, bar a reference to the RUC and the UDR – referenced as the ‘local paramilitary forces’ – there is no mention of political Unionism.

Also included with the leaflet was a reproduction of Legal Rights for Those Detained issued by Fr. Denis Faul which you can find in jpg form at the foot of this post.

Those of us who have followed the RCP and its metamorphosis into that exotic entity known as Spiked, will recognise that a faint echo of this line has survived their refashioning as contrarians and libertarians, indeed look no further than here for evidence of same

The Left Archive is interested in material that relates to Ireland from any left source and whether that material is printed in Ireland or outside of Ireland.

LEGAL RIGHTS DOC011

LEGAL RIGHTS DOC012

Comments»

1. Phil - October 19, 2009

When I first encountered the RCP in about 1983 – back when they were producing the next step – they were rock-solid behind the Provos (and the PLO), but in a rather abstract way: as if they recognised the justice of the national liberation struggle, but reserved the right to accuse the Provos themselves of selling it out. The flirtation with the Irps is no surprise – although I doubt the RCP ever actually aligned with them, or with anyone else existing outside their own heads.

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splinteredsunrise - October 19, 2009

No, IIRC the only group that made an actual effort to align with the Irps was Red Action. RA also had something of an interest in Ireland, but I suspect it had as much to do with their self-image as hard men and wanting to associate with people even harder.

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Dr. X - October 19, 2009

Eamon Collins in his book Killing Rage, describes how he had a contact from the Revolutionary Communist Group (rival faction to the RCT, right?).

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Conor McCabe - October 19, 2009

The SWM had internal discussions about alligning with the IRSP, around the time of Bernadette McAliskey’s involvement.

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2. Garibaldy - October 19, 2009

Nothing simple minded about the RCT. Absolutely not.

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3. Justin - October 19, 2009

The RCG area different bunch entirely, although they too were fully behind the Provos until they stopped using violence. They produced a book on the Gibraltar killings, which I haven’t read and a big fat book on Ireland, the name of which escapes me. In one article in their paper, Fight Racism!, Fight Imperialism!, they argued that the Provos had turned their back on the will of the nationalist people by embracing the peace process. Talk about getting something the wrong way round! In recent articles they seem to be supporting the dissidents.

Having said that, the RCG are an interesting group, especially in their economic analysis, and there was never any danger of them turning towards the essentially juvenile dilletantism that is so often to be found on the pages of the Spiked! website.

http://www.revolutionarycommunist.org/

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4. John O'Neill - October 19, 2009

No, IIRC the only group that made an actual effort to align with the Irps was Red Action.

I’m sure the ‘CPGB’ of ‘Weekly Worker’ fame had fraternal links with the IRSP and their paper ‘The Leninist’ carried all IRSP/INLA statements. I think they even attended an IRSP Easter commemeration in Belfast.

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5. Kieran - October 19, 2009

The RCG and the RCP were formed from a split within the Revolutionary Communist Tendency. There was an article about them in New Interventions journal a few years back when the RCP finally dissolved itself to head forth into the brave new world of (right wing) libertarianism.

http://www.whatnextjournal.co.uk/Pages/Newint/Rcp.html

The history of the origins of the RCT, RCG and RCP can be found in John Sullivan’s snarktastic “As Soon As This Pub Closes”, an historical round-up of the different British far-left groups of the eighties (some of whom are, of course, still with us).

http://www.whatnextjournal.co.uk/Pages/Sectariana/Pub.html

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Nick - October 19, 2009

The RCG do seem to have a total hard-on for pretty much every terrorist group on the planet

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Steve Palmer - February 2, 2014

Lol. Nonsense. And actionable. Cops just love this kind of gossipy shit.

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Steve Palmer - February 2, 2014

The RCP was NOT NOT NOT formed from a split with the RCT.
Here is the full sequence.

There was a split from the International Socialists (now the splintering SWP) which called itself the ‘Revolutionary Opposition’. John Sullivan’s (highly tendentious account, but amusing) account of what lay behind that split can be found at
http://www.marxists.org/history/etol/revhist/otherdox/whatnext/tearsite.html

That amorphous group (RO) wandered in the wilderness for a while. Younger participants chaffed at the bit, wanting to get on and build something. Others, older (even dressed older – looked like 40 yr old school teachers, although still in their 20s) wanted to suckle at the nipple of Pure Trotskyism in the shape of Roy Tearse, a former industrial organizer for the (original) RCP in the ’40s. So the RO itself split. The younger participants went ahead and set up the RCG which remained, and remains, the RCG.

Without going into all the details, a group around Frank Furedi was thrown out for chauvinism. This became the RCT, which then evolved into the RCP.

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6. Kieran - October 19, 2009

Should have been “… an article about the RCP…”

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7. WorldbyStorm - October 19, 2009

Funny isn’t it though how groups retain something of their earliest incarnation even long after they’ve morphed into something else?

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8. Garibaldy - October 19, 2009

I see a Jim Monaghan named as one of the supporters of the Coventry meeting. Same one?

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Jim Monaghan - October 21, 2009

There are at least 3 Jim Monaghans. the first has to be the Sinn Fein ex prisoner in Columbia.
There is another I think in Solidarity in Scotland. He is a contributer to Socialist Unity.
And me, least of all, who contributes here.

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Garibaldy - October 21, 2009

Cheers Jim. It was you I meant.

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9. Phil - October 19, 2009

As I remember it, RA were pro-Provo in a much more serious way – at least two members actually joined up. (Fine URL there.) They also stayed with the Provos after the ceasefire, which suggests a depth of commitment a bit greater than the RCT/P/G’s. Not praising RA particularly – it was the one part of their programme I had real problems with – but I do think they were a bit closer to the real world than a lot of groups were.

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WorldbyStorm - October 19, 2009

That’s true. I kind of have a soft spot for RA perhaps because some of their members went onto the IWCA…

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splinteredsunrise - October 19, 2009

I was never mad about RA. Apart from having a line on the north that actually led them to use headlines like “Fuck the Huns” in their paper, I always had an allergic reaction to this tendency of theirs to go about in bovver boots proclaiming how hard they were. People who are genuinely hard don’t need to advertise the fact. But then, the squads always thought of themselves as an elite even when they were in the SWP.

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Ramzi Nohra - October 19, 2009

I remember quite a bit of graffiti in north dublin around 1996 saying “Red Action =MI5”
I was left unsure about the motivation behind it, as I couldnt see how they could be percieved as “pro-brit”.

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WorldbyStorm - October 19, 2009

Perhaps it’s just the IWCA I like 😉

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10. Garibaldy - October 19, 2009

Jesus Christ. That’s fucking outrageous. Not of course that (with the exception it seems of two) they had the balls to get involved. Easier to get to NI than it was to get to Spain in the 1930s.

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11. NollaigO - October 19, 2009

One of the people linked in post #9, a former postal worker, had been in IMG for a long period and briefly in WF [Matgamna was a strong defender of “the solidarity position” in those days]. IIRC correctly, he left WF because they condemned the Birmingham bombings. He then was involved in Kilburn PSF – I know of no involvement by him in RA, a group that materialised in the late 70s.

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12. Mick Hall - October 20, 2009

One of the two volunteers mentioned above is back on the street, and as I understand it, is campaigning away against injustice where ever he finds it. By chance I spotted a letter from him published in an English regional local paper. I will not say where or on what subject, but I thought well done comrade.

By the way, the IWCA comrades I know, are some of the most sensible people I have met on the English left. They are one of the few groups over here who deliberately work with, what the press call the ‘underclass’ and in the process challenge the BNP street by street.

Far from being nutters, they are fine and dedicated comrades.

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13. Neues aus den Archiven der radikalen (und nicht so radikalen) Linken « Entdinglichung - October 23, 2009

[…] Revolutionary Communist Tendancy (RCT): TUC Hands off Ireland! […]

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14. Left Archive: “Hands Off Ireland!” – The Revolutionary Communist Group, Number Nine, November 1979 « The Cedar Lounge Revolution - October 25, 2010

[…] Party (a document from whose precursor, the Revolutionary Communist Tendency, is available here in the […]

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15. David Miller - November 3, 2010

Here is the RCP manfesto – or should I say ‘programme’, from 1983/4. Titled ‘Preparing for Power’. http://www.scribd.com/doc/40531387/Preparing-for-Power-RCP-3rd-Ed-Aug-1984

Lots more on this lot here: http://www.powerbase.info/index.php?title=Revolutionary_Communist_Tendency

Reminiscences and information gratefully received: David@spinwatch.org

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16. Left Archive: The Next Step – Revolutionary Communist Party [UK], May 1987 « The Cedar Lounge Revolution - September 19, 2011

[…] Communist Party in May 1987. The RCP emerged from the Revolutionary Communist Tendency [see here] which itself had emerged from the Revolutionary Communist Group [see here]. The RCP had a […]

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