Last week the James Connolly Society received an email from Edinburgh City Council stating that Police Scotland wanted us to move our 30th annual James Connolly commemoration because they were organising a flute band parade with the Glasgow Celtic Commemorative Committee and the West of Scotland Flute Bands Association on the same day. Of course attempts by the state to undermine and disrupt JCS activities is nothing new. This latest Police Scotland manoeuvre exposes them and their allies for what they are.
Anyone familiar with the UK state’s Prevent strategy will recognise their attempts to foster division and create compliant alternatives to radical political groups. What Police Scotland hate about the James Connolly Society is not only the politics of Connolly but that we represent a working class alternative and challenge to the state abuse of power. Police Scotland are a force out of control, intent on using commemorations – and marches in particular – to foist a ‘counter-extremism’ narrative on attempts by working class people to organise ourselves. They will fail.
Technically, the responsibility for marches is Edinburgh City Council‘s. However given their ignorance of the policy context or the implications of their decisions on local communities, it is Police Scotland that is driving through these absurd plans to force a flute band parade through a local community event. Police Scotland thrives on the ignorance, incompetence and corruption of others.
Many may be surprised to hear that self-styled ‘republican’ flute bands are colluding with Police Scotland to undermine a 30 year strong James Connolly commemoration. It must be remembered the only people in Edinburgh these flute bands speak to is Police Scotland. In fact, given that they are affiliated to no political party or group, the only organisation that these bands have any consistent working relationship with is Police Scotland. The James Connolly Society can remember a time when flute bands were part of a broader solidarity movement and advanced a political strategy. Not anymore. Now they play the state’s tune and represent a sad echo of the past.
Attempts by Police Scotland to knock the JCS off course are doomed. We are a working class organisation focused on the life of James Connolly rather than his death. We are committed to his politics and writings not to the politics of the lowest common dominator. James Connolly cannot be reduced to flute bands or football teams. He is better than that. And the James Connolly Society cannot be forced backwards into the cul-de-sac of tribalism. We are stronger than that.
Join us at 1pm on Saturday for a celebration of James Connolly’s life at 107 Cowgate.