Glasgow 2: A Political Trial / FRFI 8 Jan/Feb 1981

FRFI 8 January/February 1981

On 19 December 1980 the Glasgow 2 -Mike Duffield and Kirstin Crosbie, arrested on 9 August whilst selling Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! outside Celtic Football ground –were found guilty of 'conducting themselves in a disorderly manner' by shouting 'inflammatory slogans likely to occa­sion a breach of the peace'. Mike and Kirstin were fined £150 and £125 res­pectively.

Political charges under PTA

From the moment of their arrest and imprisonment under the racist PTA, right up to the pronouncement of the guilty verdict by Sheriff Stewart Bell, there was no doubt that the two were facing political charges aimed at sup­pressing their rights as communists to tell the truth about what the British state is doing in Ireland.

Whilst the rich and powerful British ruling class is able, simply by virtue of its huge resources, to monopolise every channel of the media, communists are to be denied the right even to stand on the streets and sell their newspapers to the British workers.

Political trial

 

The conduct of the trial by the state left not a shred of doubt as to its political nature. Mike Duffield was questioned on his views on free speed) and on the police. Kirstin Crosbie was questioned on whether she felt 'outraged' at NF marches and on whether she thought there was support for the IRA in Britain. A witness was interrogated as to whether he supported the IRA, whether he had heard anyone openly soliciting for the IRA and whether he had ever contributed to Republican causes. Whilst the trial was supposedly held to establish whether an alleged breach of the peace had taken place, defendants and witnesses found that what was on   trial   was   their   political   views   and in particular the anti-imperialist views of this newspaper, Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism!

As for police 'evidence' at the trial: Chief Inspector James Lyons described how he and a mounted policeman became 'spontaneously apprehensive' when he allegedly heard Mike and Kirstin shouting 'Support Your IRA', 'Brits Out of Ireland' and 'Hands off Ireland'. Their evidence demonstrated conclusively who did the inflaming: all the police witnesses described how they were pelted with bottles and cans thrown by Celtic supporters shouting 'IRA All the Way' as the Glasgow 2 were arrested and dragged off.

Summing up, Sheriff Bell totally ignored the fact that not one of the police witnesses had attested to a breach of the peace. He found the Glasgow 2 guilty on the assumption that the police had been 'worried something might happen'! The Sheriff decided that Mike and Kirstin had shouted 'Support Your IRA' (despite their categorical denials that they had shouted this particular slogan) by pointing to the interview with an ex-IRA Volunteer in Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! which begins 'we are proud to publish ...' Concluding, the sheriff pointed out that there are limits to free speech, and that the Glasgow 2 had abused their 'rights' to put forward their views. It is quite clear what these limits are: they are the interests of the British imperialist state in censoring any opposition to its interests, particularly its interests in the 6 counties of Ireland.

A militant campaign has been fought to defend the Glasgow 2. As well as the 1654 who have signed petitions 18 MPs and many other Labour movement organisations and individ­uals have signed statements demanding the dropping of all charges against the Glasgow 2. Scores of letters and telegrams were sent to the Procurator Fiscal calling on him to drop the charges. In the week before the trial Bob MacTaggart MP and Jack Ashton of the Scottish Executive of the CPGB headed a delegation to the Procurator Fiscal. A militant picket was held outside the Court.

The RCG has mounted such a widespread campaign not simply to defend the Glasgow 2. We know that far greater oppression and har­assment faces Irish people and black people than that which FRFI supporters are suffering. Our purpose, all along, has been to defend the right to distribute communist, socialist and anti-imperialist propaganda to the working class. The working class, as it enters the enormous political battles which lie ahead will need to be able to produce, distribute and sell its own newspapers.

We still need your help in the struggle to defend the right of communists to sell their newspapers free from harassment by the police and courts. The Glasgow 2 are appealing against the guilty verdict and the campaign has already cost hundreds of pounds.

How you can aid the fight:

  • Raise   a   motion   in   your   TU   branch   or organisation protesting against the verdict.
  • Send us letters of support telling us what you can do to help.
  • Send us money. The fines total £275 and the Glasgow 2 need money to appeal against this verdict.

Fighting the Poll Tax in Glasgow / FRFI 79 July 1988

FRFI 79 July 1988

There are over 40 anti-Poll Tax groups in Glasgow in most of the working class areas, including Drumchapel, Castlemilk, Maryhill, Govan, Govanhill and Pollok. The Pollok group in particular is big. Hundreds at­tend the meetings and it has mass support in the community. All these groups are outside the Labour Party's 'Stop It' cam­paign which has done nothing apart from produce a leaflet, make a record and get publicity on TV.

The local groups are an alliance of left groups, the Labour left, tenants' groups, community groups and ordinary people who form the majority. A conference is being held on 10 July.

The conference will be a for­um for activists to get together and hammer out strategies for the future. It is open to everyone. There will be workshops on for­cing Labour councils not to im­plement the tax; civil liberties; building resistance in the trade unions; building community resistance; and the lessons of history.

In most areas the Poll Tax snoopers have been round with their forms. In some areas successful campaigns of non-­registration are under way. In Govan the local campaign is get­ting one person in every street not to register to provide a focus for community solidarity and strength.

Labour-controlled Strathclyde Regional Council has begun to send out letters inform­ing people that they are being fined. Along with this letter, they are sending another letter saying that they are 'opposed' to the Poll Tax and do not like what they are doing. Hypocrisy is hardly the word for this.

It is clear that the resistance to the Poll Tax will have to fight the Labour councils who put Kinnock's political career and their own necks before the needs of working class people in Scotland.

Graham Johnson

People and Politics: BANNED / FRFI 78 May/Jun 1988

FRFI 78 May/June 1988

Republican march in Edinburgh

On 3 May the Labour controlled Lothian Regional Council banned a march planned for the following Saturday to commemorate Edinburgh-born Irish revolutionary leader, James Connolly. The Labour Council had given way to loyalist threats and anti-Republican hysteria whipped up by the Scottish media, especially Robert Maxwell's Daily Record. On 3 May this 'newspaper' had a front page article con­demning the march as 'an IRA victory parade for the killings in Holland'.

Labour not only banned the march but also banned Edinburgh MP Ron Brown, due to speak at the commemoration, from commenting on their decision. The march was organised by the Rising Phoenix flute band. Johnny, a band member, talked to FRFI about the banning and the fight for democratic rights in Scotland.

What was the march about and how did you go about prepar­ing for it?

James Connolly was born in Edinburgh, and there's never been a major march commemorating him here. We thought it was about time that this great socialist and revolutionary was recognised in his home town.

We organised a leafleting campaign, getting round all the left-wing groups.

How did the opposition to the march get organised?

In February, when we first an­nounced the march to the pol­ice, they must have been right on the phone to James McLean the leader of the loyalist coali­tion in Edinburgh because on the Sunday there was an org­anised phone-in on the local radio against this pro-IRA inarch and the Sunday Post, Scotland's best selling Sunday paper, had a front page trying to whip up opposition to the march.

I think the loyalists realised that there were that many peo­ple coming, that many peo­ple being organised, that they wouldn't be able to stop it, so they tried to create hysteria.

 

How did the Labour council react to this pressure?

We told all the councillors be­forehand about the march…and despite police objections the councillors voted 30-14 in favour…of the march. They said that to ban the march would be to deny folk their democratic rights…

However in the week before the march they did cave in. On the Tuesday the Daily Record had a full front page article calling for the march to be banned. Councillors were get­ting threatened, Ron Brown got threatened, there were ev­en threats being made against councillors' families by the loyalists. It was an organised campaign. There were local council elections on the Thur­sday, and just before them the labour council banned the march…

It reality shows you, specially coming up to the elections, that folk can't put faith in Labour councillors. Councillors just end up being just as anti-democratic as the state.

How are the band going to react to this ban?

We're going to fight for our right to march. There's now a three month ban on 'sectarian' marches in the Lothian Reg­ion, but the loyalists were al­lowed to go ahead with a wreath laying ceremony on the day of our march…Last year there were 57 loyalist marches in Lothian region…If the Labour councillors were serious about banning sectarian marches, why did they give permission for all those loyalist marches? The Republican bands are totally opposed to sectarianism, seeing it as a way of dividing the working class, but Labour councils encourage sectarianism.

We're going to be getting together to see what we can do about fighting the ban, be­cause if they can ban our march it'll be gay marches or anti-racist marches they ban next.

Do you see any links between what you're doing and other struggles?

We're totally opposed to rac­ism, we see racism in the same way as sectarianism, as anti-working class. Republican bands from Scotland have gone to support marches for the Broadwater Farm campaign and the Viraj Mendis Cam­paign in Manchester. The way blacks are being criminalised by the immigration laws is just like the way the Irish in Britain are criminalised by the PTA.

James Connolly was an in­ternationalist, and we think it's important to recognise the anti democratic things going on in South Africa and against the uprisings on the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The citizen's army that James Connolly set up was recognised by Lenin as the first working class army, and we follow in his tradition of internationalism.

What do you make of the polit­ical situation in Scotland?

The poll tax is going to be hitting Scotland first and the Labour Party is supposed to be taking a lead against it with the Stop It campaign, but Labour councils are already busy implementing the tax. Working class communities can't put any faith in Labour councils or governments, they have to use their own power to organise collectively, getting organised with things like the Anti-Poll Tax Union to get good results. We're going to be getting in­volved with the people at the front end of that struggle to make the links with Ireland.

What sort of hope do you have for the future?

Like James Connolly said, 'We shall rise again'. If we're going to beat this ban we're going to have to keep building support in the communities here, and get the people we support in England to come up and sup­port us. Some people on the left tell us to forget Ireland and get down to trade unionism, but that's useless. If rank and file unionists want to do any­thing they have to realise they've got more in common with the Irish people than with the trade union bosses. What's wrong with the British left…is that they've given up sup­porting the Irish and going on the offensive in the tradition of James Connolly. Quite a few of our members were involved in the Edinburgh Irish Solidarity Committee a few years back, and we used the same methods of leaflets, posters, getting or­dinary folk involved, in building for our march…That’s not the way to win, not the magic roundabouts and promises of the trade unions and Labour Party.

Miners’ Rally – Edinburgh

FRFI 44 Nov-Dec 1984

The leadership of the NUM launched a nationwide tour of key areas on 6 Nov­ember in Edinburgh. Against a back­drop of stepped-up hostility from the Labour and TU leadership, the first in the series of rallies was marked by jeers from the 2000+ miners present. These were hurled when NUM leader and Com­munist Party leader, Mick McGahey began reading out Labour apologies for non-attendance. The shout 'Kinnock's a Tory' made McGahey move quickly to say that Tories didn't send apologies to NUM rallies. This was one of the first of many outbursts from the audience which McGahey sought to smooth away. After Labour MP Gavin Strang had spo­ken, miners in the hall challenged 'Where's Kinnock?'. Donald Dewar of the Labour Party Shadow Cabinet could hardly get started above the hisses and boos vented by miners angry at Labour's scabbing on their strike. Euro-communist McGahey quietened the hall down again so that Dewar could tell miners that 'we all condemn violence'. Before this we were treated to the sick­ening charity of John Henry (Assistant General Secretary of the Scottish TUC, to give him his full title). He told the min­ers that whilst they (the STUC) 'couldn't ensure turkey and all the trimmings for Christmas' they'd make sure that 'every­one of yous will sit down to a chicken or something else.' I reckon that the food off their (the STUC) Christmas tables would go a long way to meeting more than just the Christmas needs of many miners' families. In the circumstances of Kinnock's point-blank scabbing on attendance at the rallies (although he can make time to fly to India in Mrs Thatcher's jet), Arthur Scargill's remark that his engagement diary was not block-booked, i.e. unlike Kinnock's, was very mild. Yet this received resounding applause.

Gary Clapton

Heroin: The unseen imperialist tool

FRFI 36 Feb 1984

 

The following article was written for FRFI by a youth from one of Scotland's council estates. Heroin is circulating freely in all of the urban working class areas of Scotland and England. At £5 a 'shot' it is cheaper than alcohol or can­nabis in the length of its effects - and much cheaper than a cinema trip for two. Heroin deadens the young unemployed to their plight, turning them to anti-social crime against their own families, friends and neighbours, and even­tually bringing prison, illness or death.

The article speaks for itself of the effect of heroin on the working class youth of Britain; however the title chosen by Vini is truer than he knew. As well as being a weapon to kill the spirit of fightback in the ghettoes of Britain, heroin is a major weapon against the oppressed peoples.

It is one more useless crop - whole areas of arable land are devoted to the poppy fields which yield heroin for traffic to the Western nations at high profit.

In the Guardian of 4.1.84 Paul Brown revealed the cynicism and hypocrisy of 'freedom loving' Reaganites and Thatcherites. Whilst they laud the 'freedom fighters' in Afghanistan they are quite aware that these reactionaries' guns are bought by trade in heroin grown in the border areas of Pakistan. Some 3 million refugees from the Afghan war, enjoying the 'protection' of Zia's fascist government, provide the cheap labour for the tending and harvesting of the poppies. This relieves both the Pakistan government and the western promoters of the Afghan war of any expense for the refugees' plight which they and they alone are responsible for. Two other benefits accrue to the im­perialists:

1.   They do not have the expense or potentially embarrassing exposure of personally buying and supplying the weapons needed to turn the clock of progress back in Afghanistan. Thus the reactionaries can be painted as ‘independent freedom fighters' and not a stooge army for imperialism; and

2.   The heroin which the weapons are traded for flows freely in the 'trouble spots' of Britain, deadening minds and devastating lives and giving the police, courts and prisons easy pickings.

The article shows a growing class consciousness and awareness among the youth about the cynicism of our rulers and the need to unite with all those forces fighting imperialism if their barbarities are to be fought.

Heroin is the solution which the British state offers them and yet by joining with the progressive forces around the world with all of the oppressed in Britain they will become an unbeatable force. In the words of a young FRFI supporter from the area 'The choice is either Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! or smack' -the anti-imperialist, anti-racist struggle or heroin addiction and despair.

Maggie Lindsay

KIDS NATURALLLY experiment with ways in which to become high from an early age.., The desperate need and method comes from a harsh reality.

Generally, kids brought up in 'middle or upper class' areas have less of a need to escape their realities. When they are younger, money is plentiful and many develop hobbies and interests which will take their minds from their reality. Whereas, working class kids rarely have an abundance of money, in fact they have more an abundance of social problems (inadequate housing, youth clubs etc) so mostly, they hang around chip shops, pubs or street comers.

Kids living in council estates seem to have a reputation for trouble so inevitably they receive police harassment which quickly leads to resentment for all authority.

The kid who causes trouble in class, who can fight well, who will do anything for a dare (especially if it is illegal) is looked up to by his friends. Whether this kid is in a gang or not there is an unseen pressure to prove to those around him that he is hard and afraid of nothing and no-one.

And so it starts, cigarettes, alcohol, hash and pills; apart from the escape given by the drugs he has proved himself 'afraid of nothing'.

When teenagers leave school and go out into the world to try and find jobs, they have to prove themselves yet again. But jobs are almost impossible to find so most of them are totally rejected by society and to have that feeling of rejection at sixteen is hard to live with.

Hanging around the streets without money, still dependent on parents who can ill afford it, for support. Nothing but depression, decay all around. They might well wonder what they have done to deserve such a fate.

Some will try the ultimate escape: heroin. Heroin creates a euphoric trance-like state. All worries, all responsibilities and all boredom are lifted from the 'user' ten seconds after sticking the needle into his or her arm.

And so they tell friends, who also try it and so the plague is spread. It is contagious, being passed on from friend to friend like a disease infecting the unemployed youth -and not only the unemployed and the poor, but these are the people who are most at risk.

They begin to mix with junkies who talk of big money through stealing and of being stoned and feeling great. They do not mention withdrawing, prisons, hepatitis and death from overdose - just the 'good points', if that's the right words. It all seems so easy, so exciting and it beats being bored all the time. No-one believes that he or she will become enslaved to heroin.

Heroin at the same time as creating a euphoric state creates apathy - for anything that is, except heroin. It is a very selfish god.

Most working class kids are of the opinion that there are poor people and rich people and that's the way it shall always be. They see no point in joining political parties who will change things for the better in the future. The need is there now, for help to relieve the strains of seemingly having no future, but the need is being satisfied with drugs, drugs which keep the youth of this country apathetic. Apathy hangs over the working class youth like a cloud keeping them in darkness to the possibilities within their grasp.

It seems to suit governments, creating apathy amongst the working classes because apathy will stop any change, or revolution better than any army or police force could ever do.

It makes me wonder why when there is an explosion in the amount of drugs being consumed in this country, why the government has cut back on custom control - ie it is becoming easier all the time to get drugs into Britain. In any of the council estates of Edinburgh it would take a junkie less than 15 minutes to 'score' heroin. In times of economic difficulties, governments have always had wars to slim down the working class and keep them in check. Now with the advent of nuclear weapons far too much would be lost. Now there is a new weapon to keep the working class in check 'in their place'. Boredom and apathy which has infected the youth like a plague. Not that I believe the government spread this plague, but it is certainly taking no steps to cure it. The children of today are the people of tomorrow -and with a plague like this, tomorrow will be cancelled due to lack of interest.

IT'S DUMB

Graffiti written on a stair

People walk by, they don't care

Glue sniffers, junkies everywhere

People walk by, they don't care

Kids with no jobs, kids with no money

Being poor, it's not very funny

Living in slums, they steal and fight

And there's no-one there to help their plight

So they go out and get high

Some get addicted, some get high

Some get married, settle down

Move to another part of town

Bring up kids, living in a slum

And it starts again - it's dumb

Vini F

Edinburgh