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A Trading Nation

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 30th May 2019.

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Photo of Patrick Harvie Patrick Harvie Green

When we have a full debate on independence, I will have plenty of time to address that, but I will stick just now with the debate that we are having today.

The pro-independence movement is explicitly internationalist. Brexit supporters—and, increasingly, the Tory party—are clearly economic nationalists. They should abandon their Brexit obsession and engage positively with ideas about how to modernise and change the UK, if they want to save it.

The Labour and Conservative amendments and the Scottish Government’s strategy do not engage with the existential threats that humanity is facing, which are threats that we have brought about by the way in which we run the global economy. Government action needs to be taken in response to those threats, domestically and multilaterally through international co-operation, not through free markets. In short, whatever people see as the benefits from trade and from increasing GDP, there will be no jobs on a dead planet. The debate must engage with that.

There is an alternative. I emphasise that the Green approach is not anti-trade; it is possible to have a fair, just and sustainable approach to trade. Such an approach would involve protecting our high-quality food and drink from the free-market race to the bottom on standards; supporting renewable energy instead of the lethal fossil fuel industry that is still too dominant in our economy; and making best use of the digital and creative industries and, indeed, our education system. However, if we are to achieve that fair, sustainable and just alternative, we must be focused not just on “How much?”, but on “How?”, “What?”, “Who?” and the impact on people’s lives. In short, we must commit in a way that, I am sorry to say, the Scottish Government’s trade strategy does not to the principles of trade justice that the Parliament has previously endorsed. I am afraid that those principles are missing from the Government’s strategy.