A tug of war for Scotland's future


05 September 2018

The sun is unexpectedly shining from a clear blue sky as I arrive at Holyrood. I’m wearing my finest business suit and bowler hat, and I’m standing outside the Scottish parliament. With me are Liam Fox, Theresa May, Donald Trump, and UK trade minister George Hollingbery. But I’m not here to discuss investments or tax breaks. There’s something more important at stake.

I grab the rope and pull as hard as I can. Paper money flutters out of my pocket as I lean my weight into it, and the PM is looking worried as her hands start to slip. On the other end, our opponents in this tug of war strain against us. A farmer in a flat cap and wellies hauls alongside a doctor, a solid number of Scottish Global Justice Now supporters, and several bright yellow chickens.

A tug of war over trade outside the Scottish parliament

I don’t think I chose the side of good.

We (and by 'we' I mean ‘the many huge corporate interests I’m lovingly caricaturing by dressing as a cartoon banker’) might have the weight of the government on our side, but the Scottish people are a determined lot, and they’re not giving up.

What’s it all about?

On 5 September, the Trade Minister made a rare appearance at Holyrood, meeting with tech executives in the Scottish capital. And, led by Global Justice Now, trade justice activists from around Scotland showed up to mark the occasion.

As the Trade Bill works it way through the House of Lords, Scottish campaigners are getting very worried about some of its shortfalls. As it stands, the Bill allows people like Hollingbery and Fox to negotiate and enact international trade deals without consultation or consent from the devolved governments.

And in a world where trade deals can affect every part of our lives, from the safety of our food to the survival of the NHS, and can even stop governments from enacting progressive policy or limiting the excesses of corporate power, those decisions can’t be allowed to be imposed without consent. Politicians like Liam Fox are happy to make deals which profit big business, while ignoring the needs of the people. 

The fight over devolved inclusion in the Trade Bill is a tug of war between the needs of the people and the machinations of corporate power. And the future of Scotland is on the line.

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