TEN years after the crash, the neoliberal age is finally coming to an end. You don’t have to take that from me. Even the oracle of this orthodoxy, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), signalled it’s all over at its recent meeting in Washington DC, where it announced taxing the rich is not bad after all.
In this moment of lucidity, the IMF overturned decades of blind ideology, proclaiming that trickle-down economics was no longer a practice fit for purpose.
The respected Peterson Institute for International Economics goes even further, arguing the biggest threat facing our economies is growing inequality.
In Britain many of our fellow citizens from the far south of Cornwall to the Highlands and Islands of Scotland have been held back through the application of this dogma.
However, the tectonic plates are shifting. Politics is being pulled in new populist and pro-social directions across Europe and the globe as the old economic consensus crumbles.
Jeremy Corbyn’s genius is not just his radicalism, welcome as this is, but his ability to capture the political zeitgeist, to speak up for the held back — and to name clearly the old and broken economic system designed in the interests of the few.
Richard Leonard and his manifesto for real change have set him on course to do the same in Scotland.
Ordinary people are sick to their back teeth of paying a very heavy price for an economic crisis they did nothing to create.
Politicians who were either caught asleep at the wheel or just simply captured by the allure of the fictional neoliberal nirvana, have wasted decades deregulating our economy and selling off our nation’s assets.
Their trickle-down dream of rising prosperity for all never came to pass. Instead, it wrecked communities and saw the creation of the “gig economy” of fake self employment and zero-hours contracts and all the time inequality sky-rocketed.
Their failed neoliberal experiment has caused untold damage to far too many of our people and also created way too many industrial wastelands the length and breadth of Scotland and all across Britain.
Today, we are all paying the high price for the long abdication of responsibility by our political class. Just look at our energy tariffs or rail fares, not to mention wholesale privatisation of huge parts of our NHS and other public services.
The cry from people everywhere is simple: “End this rip-off!” Leonard’s manifesto for public ownership hits the spot.
No more will Scottish rail passengers pay extortionate fares so that the Dutch government can extract a profit through its Abellio ScotRail subsidiary.
Frankly, I don’t blame politicians in The Hague for making money out of our rail franchises. It’s the idiots in our country who made — and still make — it possible who should be in the dock. They are the ones who unleashed the economics of the 1 per cent at our expense.
Leonard’s rational alternative, having in place greater regulation, public ownership and a thought-through and planned industrial strategy chimes strongly with Scottish voters.
This is the norm in many European countries, not just Scandinavia, and is finally the right policy prescription to make Scotland and its people prosper.
Leonard also sets out very clearly how, on his watch, the gravy train for privateers in Scotland in rail, energy and in our public services will end.
Like Corbyn, he is articulating an economy that works for the many not the few. That’s why our union, the TSSA, is backing him. We understand that as the curtain comes down on the neoliberal age, we must win the battle of ideas.
An economy that also works for the 99 per cent is our aim. Even the IMF and respected global economic think tanks are starting to articulate and agree with us on just this point.
With Leonard at the helm of Scottish Labour and Corbyn steering Labour’s ship, we are closing in on a government that delivers socialism in the 21st century — which for the lives of ordinary working people, means high skills, better wages, public ownership, real investment into the industries that make Scotland great, and ensuring we all have affordable homes, transport and food, and an education system that people aren’t priced out of, including in life-long vocational training.
Leonard’s plans are not just about public ownership, but democratic, public control of our lives, and the state that serves us all.
Manuel Cortes is general secretary of the Transport Salaried Staffs' Association.
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