Since the Brexit vote the subsequent debate has been totally dominated by the British and EU elites who in turn have focused largely on what are in effect the concerns of big business with working people’s needs reduced passing sound bites on a “jobs first Brexit.”
TV screens are filled with top of the range Mercs and BMWs purring in and out of EU headquarters disgorging power brokers who debate high policy behind closed doors then leak to the media.
One of the dangerous result of this approach that the realities facing Scotland’s working people are little discussed in a debate in which the tone is either the sub -acism of the Rees Moggs and Mays or a waving of the EU flag and a totally uncritical presentation of the EU as some kind of utopia.
By encouraging an almost football fan mentality on Brexit an atmosphere has been created in which little is being done to examine or plan for the reality that Brexit will happen on a matter of months and the situation that will in turn create.
Before setting out why Scottish Socialist Voice does not share this approach and is anxious to encourage a realistic discussion on the challenges post Brexit I should make our position clear.
We supported a reluctant Remain vote in 2016 not because we do not have serious criticisms of many aspects of EU Neo Liberalism such as the crushing of Greece but because we feared–rightly–that a Leave vote would put the jingo union jack wavers in the driving seat.
The Forum this weekend has been organised to assist the work of fashioning a policy approach which puts the peoples’ priorities onto the political agenda and makes a start on building a movement to achieve this
At the heart of theEU is the right of capital to move freely and under the guise of “competition” place restrictions on state aid to industry and enforced tendering and so called “liberalisation” (in reality, privatisation of services).
Enshrined in law, including the Lisbon treaty, it is this pro business agenda which dominates policy, with the rights of the population presented largely as “consumers” rather than citizens and workers.
The question however, which is the key topic for the Forum, is what are socialists and the broad labour movement to do about it and how does the coming of Brexit impact on this task?
To that end our platform draws together perspectives such as those of DIEM 25 the movement inspired by former Greek finance minister Yannis Varoufakis who advocate a “stay and change” approach to the EU ,leading Scottish economist Margaret Cuthbert and Scottish RMT organiser Gordon Martin.
Also joining us will be Norwegian author, trade unionist and social activist Asbjorn Wahl who has written extensively on the Neo Liberal economics of the EU and the crisis of in the the many European social democratic parties who have accepted this policy.
He has written on and campaigned against the subsequent austerity, casualisation , service cuts and privatisation. He is a trenchant critic of the role played in this process both by the EU and social democratic parties such as PASOK in Greece, PSOE in Spain and indeed New Labour here.
He argues the need for new political formations and alliances on the left to rebuild the purchase of the left and labour movement as an essential step to breaking the power, in the saddle for the last 30 years , of the business elite and the consequences of wages, jobs cuts and austerity that lies all around us.
Gordon Martin’s members in the RMT have direct experience of the so called “competition” policy of the EU with the two enforced tendering of services at Calmac, one by a Labour led Scottish Executive and another by the SNP government.
The RMT also strongly advocates a return to public ownership of both Scotland’s railways and North;ink ferries.
Key to any policy development aimed at changing life for the better for the working class majority has to be an understanding of the economic challenges likely to flow from Brexit.
Leading economist Margaret Cuthbert’s analysis on this central question will surely not only offer a picture of the likely post Brexit Scottish economy but hopefully stimulate discussion on how we shape policy in response.
For example what scope might we have for state intervention in key sectors such as the developing green energy technologies where the trade union campaign against climate change has estimated that one million skilled jobs could be created across the UK.
If we assume Scotland as a 10th of the UK that implies 100,000 jobs here.
Such an approach could be an important first step towards reshaping Scotland’s economy away from the relentless drive for profit and constructing an economy based on meeting the needs of people and planet.
We see the Forum as a modest but necessary step towards defeating the failed policies of a Neo Liberal free market, profit hungry dog eat dog society utilising our technology, knowledge and skills for the vast majority not a elite super rich minority.
SCOTTISH SOCIALIST VOICE FORUM – BREXIT: HOW CAN WORKING PEOPLE BENEFIT FROM LEAVING THE EUROPEAN UNION
SATURDAY 28th APRIL, ERIC LIDDELL CENTRE, 15 MORNINGSIDE ROAD EH10 4DP
Tickets free available from Eventbrite
** Leading Scottish economist Margaret Cuthbert
**Gordon Martin, Scottish Organiser Rail Maritime and Transport union.
** Asbjorn Wahl , Norwegian trade unionist, activist and author
** John Page from DIEM 25 the movement inspired by former Greek finance minister Yannis Varoufakis.