Speaker Notes: Is There a Democratic Co-operative Alternative?

Molly Scott Cato MEP

Molly Scott Cato speaking #WF4. Image © Jonathan Nicholson/NurPhoto/Corbis

Molly Scott Cato speaking #WF4. Image © Jonathan Nicholson/NurPhoto/Corbis

1. Ownership and value
It has become a cultural norm in our society that the person who exploits knowledge or creativity profits from it but this is essentially unjust. We need to rebalance the value from middlemen to creators and innovators. This what is co-operatives are all about.

On 24 December the Beatles back catalogue became available via Spotify. But who says they could control this music which had arisen from a mass of different routes. This can be summed up in the question ‘Who owns the blues?’ Can Africa somehow copyright all its rhythms and riffs and invalidate all consequential copyright claims?

We can make the same case about Facebook. Who has really created the value in Facebook? The inventor of the original algorithm and the creator of the original idea have been compensated many thousands of times over. A truly social network should be socially or mutually owned, more like Wikipedia.

There are hopeful signs that the new economy will be owned differently and more justly. Take the example of renewable energy. As we phase out fossil fuels we are seeing the downfall of the fossil oligopoly and the rise of community ownership, especially in Denmark and Germany where there has been a strong and consistent Feed-in Tariff. The fuels of the future are free and the electricity of the future should be socially owned. Co-operative Energy and community renewables.

2. Corporation taxation
This is the way that corporations can put back the excess profits they make through enclosing areas of production and value creation. But they are not even paying for the services they use. Amazon lorries destroy the roads but it is local authorities who have seen their incomes cut in half that have to repair them and Amazon is not contributing to that cost.

This is generally agreed by all but the most crazed free-market loons. But talk is cheap and we are struggling to gain a majority for the necessary action in the EU parliament. And the EU member states are still fighting for national advantage, which is partly what the UK threat to leave is all about.

Thanks to Green initiative we have achieved a lasting parliamentary majority for public CbCR. We also need the CCCTB and minimum tax rate. We failed to gain support even in the parliament for action to end conflict of interest in Big 4 accountancy firms and strong support for whistleblowers.

We need EU cooperation because our government thinks tax competition is good: I sat in a room with David Gauke and heard him say this, firing the starting-gun on the race to the bottom. Key blocker governments including Luxembourg and Ireland, but also UK and Netherlands.

Molly Cato MEP

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