Thursday, 11 July 2019
Brexit Contingency Action Plan: Statements
Mick Barry (Cork North Central, Solidarity)
When a country is the victim of a big external shock, it needs to respond and there are always choices in how it might respond. During the Second World War, for example, many countries, even those within the framework of capitalism, decided that a high degree of nationalisation, coupled with increased welfare provisions for the population, was the best way to deal with the crisis. In advance of a potentially disorderly Brexit, the Government is making its choices. It has chosen the option of neoliberal shock therapy, with 50,000 to 55,000 job losses, wage cuts, price increases and cuts in social spending. That choice is being presented to the people as not being a choice at all. Instead, it is something that is inevitable and to which there is no alternative. It is not inevitable; there are alternatives. The key alternative is for the State to intervene to prevent job losses, price hikes and pay cuts. That could best be done by nationalising all major companies threatening to sacrifice jobs or cut pay rates to protect profits in the event that there is a disorderly Brexit. These measures could be supplemented by others such as freezing prices, banning rent hikes, etc.
The Government and the supporters of the capitalist market generally will argue that such measures are impractical and not realistic. However, let us note that the Government is proposing State intervention in the economy as the Brexit scenarios play out. It is proposing, for example, to increase state aid for businesses that will be impacted on by Brexit. The stated intention is to help to defend jobs, but the provision of aid will not be made conditional on job cuts not being made. Beneficiaries of this policy might well include the likes of Larry Goodman who has shown his concern for the welfare of the nation in recent times by choosing to pay company taxes in Luxembourg, rather than in this jurisdiction. The State intervention we advocate would not serve to benefit beef barons, tax avoiders, millionaires or billionaires. It would serve to benefit working people at the expense of those vested interests, through a policy choice of nationalisation, workers' control, job protection and the defence of living standards.
The Government will not achieve unanimity in this House on the option of neoliberal shock therapy because we will oppose it. Fianna Fáil, through its finance spokesperson, Deputy Michael McGrath, has made it clear that it is willing to support a shock therapy prescription. That was clearly demonstrated when Deputy Michael McGrath announced that, in the event that there was a disorderly Brexit, Fianna Fáil would join the Government in opposing even a €5 increase for pensioners and other social welfare recipients at budget time. Not only will we vote against neoliberal shock therapy policies, we will also urge the working class to oppose them, too. The working class and the poor should not be the whipping boys in the context of Brexit. We will support any genuine campaign, resistance and push-back against any attempt to make working people the whipping boys in this crisis.