The Workers Party is holding a Day Conference on 1st July to discuss how to rebuild British industry. The Conference is for Members Only and invited guests. In the run up to Conference we are publishing a number of pieces submitted for the purposes of stimulating discussion around the theme of reviving British industry, the challenges of AI and automation and the role of vocational education.
This piece has been submitted by Chris Murphy. We encourage members, readers and friends to comment below.
1. What are the factors preventing the rebirth of British industry?
Historically, being part of the EU has been the main factor in the decline of British industry with its state aid rules and Britain’s place as the service arm of the European Union. Decades of decline because of it has decimated our industry, which makes it difficult to rebuild it in itself. This is because we have lost much of our past infrastructure and sites which could have used to help redevelop it.
The second factor is WILL. One of the promises made by the then government before and after Brexit was to invest in our fishing industries and manufacturing base, which has not happened. This is because it is still wed to our role in the service industry. We are still wed to the idea of cheap labour; another factor in our inability to regenerate our industries.
2. What are the industries which modern Britain is built upon?
Traditionally, we were built on fishing, ship building, coal mining, steal and car manufacturing, all of which has all but gone.
3. What are the relative merits for the working class and Britain of vocational, work-based education over the current push for university education?
Labour has recently abolished its pledge to scrap tuition fees. One of our pledges within our ten point programme is to provide free education from cradle to grave.
The current system indoctrinates most 16-18 year olds into continuing their education, without the real option of providing apprenticeships. Many young people this age is not suited to further education, preferring hands-on training and work.
The current system saddles those furthering their education with debt, without providing them with a practical option and solution.
4. What is the relationship between capitalism and innovation?
Most innovation comes from capitalism in western countries. Countries such as Cuba have demonstrated this does not have to be the case. The country despite being sanctioned for decades, provides ground breaking innovation.
5. Does automation and AI benefit the workers under capitalism?
In the case of automation there is a clear case that it undermines the worker and their bargaining power. We have seen in supermarkets with self-check outs how it takes away jobs. Ditto before that in the car manufacturing industry, and others like the shoe industry.
AI has been a mass capitalism tool via social media. Studies in New Zealand recently showed that the vast majority of NAFO posts were from fake accounts.
In large businesses, actual people should be employed to manage social media accounts and its content personally, instead of relying on algorithms.