Last Sunday, as is my want, I spoke in a plenary at the Morning Star Scottish conference on “winning the policy arguments for public ownership” alongside Scottish labour movement greats – Neil Findlay MSP, Unison’s mighty Dave Watson and SNP trade union group pal, Chris Stephens.
Of course we all agree public is good and privatisation is bad. The theme of the day led to the usual lefty roll call and listings of the scandalous squandering that is privatisation by the free marketeers enabled and encouraged by governments current and past. The neoliberal consensus developed by Thatcher, embraced by New Labour and now the absolute mantra of this current lot at Westminster. Concerns over the deepening of that consensus in Scotland whatever the count in next year’s referendum is shared by all left and progressive activists.
What struck me as lacking though, is the self actualisation amongst those of us on the left to stop merely listing all that is bad but to appraise how we move from preaching to the converted and begin engaging with a disaffected mass of working class people out there.
My thoughts are thus threefold:
1. Change the narrative – focus on the positive case for public provision rather than endlessly burdening people with the the shock doctrine of what the nasty party are taking away
2. Challenge the myths of market efficiency – expose privatisation waste and destruction – failures that occur daily
3. We own it – reclaim our services from private profit. Demand public engagement on quality, transparency and accountability, public and worker engagement on ownership, management boards, finances and operational decision-making.
What do you think?