TTIP a Forgotten Issue and a real threat to Democracy

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1620623_1498529003720542_5197655102586752213_nTTIP, the TransAtlantic Trade and Investment Partnership will be a Corporate takeover of our democratic process. Governments will have their hands tied on matters such as labour laws, environmental standards, health and safety and public ownership. A Government taking any action that a multinational corporation does not like will be open to being sued by that corporation through a secret Tribunal. These Companies will be aiming to reclaim from Governments any loss of profit that they claim a Government action has caused. Private Profit not Democracy will rule the decision making processes in Parliaments across the EU and in America.

You’d think that all this would be a huge election issue, but there has been hardly a mention in this campaign. The issue is, ‘Who runs Britain?’ I recall the last time that was a clarion call in an election, 1979, after the ‘Winter of Discontent’ that caused the press to turn on the Unions, who they and the Tories accused of pulling the strings of Government. Of course they took great delight in bashing the Unions and were just paving the way for Thatcher’s anti union laws. But now it is the big multinational corporations, mostly American based, that are positioning themselves to become the dominant influence in ‘Running Britain’. And this time the Corporate owned media is looking the other way.

Negotiations are taking place in secret, much of the detail being covered by ‘Corporate confidentiality’. What little we do know is largely down to the efforts of Greens in the European Parliament. The negotiations are largely about deregulation and not investment. The Multinational Corporations want the same deal that the Banks got in 1986 with their ‘Big Bang’ reforms that created a free market in financial transactions. The deregulations of 1986 and those of the Labour Government of 1997 led to the financial crash of 2007. The corporate demands within TTIP will be a disaster of equal magnitude. And remember who paid for the disaster of 2007, us the ordinary people, the less well off and the most vulnerable in society. Those who drove the reforms did very well. The wealthiest people in this country have seen their wealth double since the crash.

Supporters of TTIP have been forced now to admit that most of the jobs they say will be created will come as a result of scrapping regulation and not from lowering tariff barriers; the smoke screen behind which they have tried to hide. The plan is to ‘harmonise’ regulations on both sides of the Atlantic, this will include Health and Safety matters such as product safety, green regulations including subsidies to renewable energy, and labour laws including worker entitlements. We know that ‘harmonisation’ means in fact lowering to the lowest level.

The big prize is the NHS, a huge market that the US private health providers want to take over. Under TTIP they will be able to force any Government to open up all of the NHS to competitive tendering. If the Government doesn’t do this, they will be liable to be sued for the loss of profit that a company claims they could have earned from the contracts. This is through the so called Investor State Dispute Settlement – ISDS, that is carried out by a secret Tribunal – secret to protect commercial confidentiality – of company lawyers.

TTIP will also pave the way for widespread fracking. Any country that tries to stop this will be sued for the loss of profit that the company claims lies in the unproven reserves. The same goes for nuclear power. It will not be possible for Governments to stop the introduction of GM, unless they – which means us, pay compensation to the GM companies. Any Act of Parliament that any Corporation says will damage their profits will fall foul of ISDS and lead to compensation claims. Governments will be unable to afford to protect the interests of the people against the predations of big Corporations. Decisions affecting our well-being in every aspect of our lives will be, in effect, taken by the unelected corporate boards of multinational companies and no longer by democratically elected parliaments.
We face a corporate coup d’etat, yet there is barely a murmur in this, the last election before the TTIP treaty is concluded by Governments willing to sell our democracy down the river in the name of private profit. We, the people must act to stop this. Greens in the European Parliament are working to open up the negotiations to democratic accountability. We need a strong Green voice in our Parliament to demand proper informed debate. We need to force candidates to state their position in TTIP. We need a big Green vote to shake the next government out of its complacency and face up to the dangers of TTIP.

[Mike Shipley April’2015]

For more information on opposing TTIP go to: https://stop-ttip.org/sign/

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