On Saturday, 28 April, the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) hosted a debate to address the question: ‘How can working people benefit from leaving the European Union?’ Panel presentations from Margaret Cuthbert (Scottish economist and academic), Asbjorn Wahl (Norwegian trade unionist and author), Colin Fox (SSP co-spokesman and former MSP) and John Page (for DiEM25) were followed by contributions and questions from the floor.
Opening, after telling DiEM25’s purpose and development, John Page suggested that workers could benefit from three areas that would be freed of total or partial EU control. Industrial strategy should direct state resources more sensitively and therefore efficiently to better-defined regions and sectors. State support for SMEs (the largest source of new jobs) via investment tax breaks could be extended and tailored to UK opportunities. Life-long learning is, thanks to the internet, expanding greatly and becoming more accessible and affordable. The state would now be free to subsidise employers’ staff education and training support programmes without infringing state aid rules.
Margaret Cuthbert cited information that shows increasing unfairness and disempowerment affecting working people in Scotland, going on to describe the poor quality and irrelevance of figures emanating from Scottish Government , especially with reference to SMEs.
Asbjorn Wahl explained how well Norway had prospered outside the EU, but in EFTA, and that this could perhaps work for other countries too.
Colin Fox reminded participants of Socialists’ belief in the virtues of state ownership. Without EU inhibitions, many assets, especially utilities, should be re-nationalised for the benefit of all, not just corrupt capitalists and plutocrats.
In conclusion, despite all the ideas and desire about what is needed to counter general feelings of disempowerment and economic insecurity, workers’ opportunities are unlikely to improve under circumstances common to both UK and EU of undemocratic government that is answerable first to the bankers and other special interests.
To all members who are keen to form a DSC in Scotland, and who are prepared to give their time and talent: John will soon be sending out an invitation to a DiEM25 meeting, probably in Edinburgh, to start putting together an application for DSC approval.
Photograph credit: Craig MacLean
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