Dr. Peter Asquith Cowan Explains the Threat Posed by TTIP to our NHS and Our Democracy.
My own investigations show that very few people out there know anything about TTIP, (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) and its implications for businesses, the public sector, but in particular, our cherished NHS.
Recently, the Unite union has launched an ‘Appeal’ – achieving the rare feat of bringing together all of Northern Ireland’s main political parties.
This proposed trade partnership, which has already received rampant opposition in Europe, is something of a “Trojan Horse”. It has been shrouded in secrecy with negotiations taking place ‘behind closed doors’ – hardly democratic!
Basically it would allow American ‘Big’ business interests to take over and privatise the NHS and a lot more besides.
So much for Cameron’s ‘empty’ rhetoric: “The NHS is safe in our hands.” Nothing could be further from the truth. While the British people have their hands full with the impending Trade Union Bill, the collapse of the iron and steel industry, the Human Rights Act, Osborne’s threat to children’s tax credits – a humiliating defeat for the chancellor as of last night – Thank God! Other things have been percolating that we should all take note of.
Warren Buffet,famously remarked: “It’s a class war alright, and we the wealthy classes are winning it.” It was through his advice that the CBI’s plan for future business was hatched and that culminated in zero-hour contracts, changes to employment rules and conditions of service that will be finalised if the Trade Union Bill becomes law.
“IF” is the key word. In essence, it is not something new. It is a return to the Anti-Combination Acts first passed in 1799, repealed in 1824 and re-instated, after a wave of strikes in 1825.
It is a direct attack on the working classes to strike in defence of their wages and conditions of service. It is a throwback to the early 19th century, when children as young as seven worked long, miserable hours in the new industrial factories.
Lord Heseltine, the Tory ‘Grandee’ has recently been criticised by Anna Thurley MP for Redcar, for his remarks about the 1,700 jobs lost in the steel industry, which she described as “disgusting” and showed his party were the “ same old Tories.”
How right she is and much of what they are proposing to do goes back to the age of Peel and Wellington. Modern Conservatism is a universe away from the inspirational Robert Owen of New Lanark.
In Len McCluskey’s words “ The Trade Union Bill is a nasty, needless piece of legislation, that has no merit other than to serve the narrow political ends of the Conservative party.”
Current Conservative legislation is in preparation for the introduction of TTIP, of that there is no doubt. It is vitally important the British do learn about TTIP. ‘Ignorance is bliss’ or so they say, but in this case it is a ‘bliss’ we cannot afford if we value what we’ve fought for and striven so hard to obtain since the signing of Magna Carta in June , 1215.
However, much can be lost at the stroke of a pen! It is ironic that this threat to our democracy comes on the seven hundredth anniversary of this “Great Charter.” The first time in history ‘Tyranny’ was challenged, but not the last.
“If” the TTIP negotiations were allowed to go ahead. This would free up trade between the EU and US by allowing companies from either side of the Atlantic to operate under the same rules.
However, the most controversial aspect of this would be the creation of a new ‘Supranational Court’ or the Investor State Dispute Settlement Court (ISDS) a new powerful, American dominated court through which investors could sue governments, or the EU, over any action or legislation that hurt their business. It could override National Law and hold governments – including our own – to ransom.
This is a dangerous road to go down, a very anti-democratic step. A development which would compromise the ‘Power’ of the European Parliament and our own government. The electorate would be ignored and the “Dictatorship of Multi-National Business” would, in effect, destroy the democratic process.
It must be stopped. An American private healthcare firm, prevented from buying up parts of the NHS could appeal to this ISDS Court and claim millions of pounds in compensation for lost business from the British government – irrelevant which party was in power – and override our Parliament.
The “Unite Appeal” has been signed by Jeremy Corbyn, Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, Ukip leader, Nigel Farage, Green Party leader, Natalie Bennett, Plaid Cymru’s Leanne Wood and all the leaders of all the Northern Ireland Parties.
It is, however, well worth noticing, that despite the Unite organisers approaching the Conservatives also for their support in this serious matter, (They) the Conservatives, refused to give it their support, which says everything! The Lib/Dems have yet to respond.
The Conservatives are in cahoots with American ‘Big Business’ that’s why the CBI were encouraged and advised by Warren Buffet. That’s why they are planning to stifle the rights of workers to protest and strike, through the impending Trade Union Bill.
Jeremy Corbyn has defined Austerity as: “ a con, a hideous cruelty visited on the British people, their wages, jobs and vital services.” “If” the Trade Union Bill were to make to the Statute Books and become law, we would have taken a step back in time to pre-Victorian Britain.
This Bill is designed to “ reduce your right to stand up for yourself, with your union at your side, no matter what mistreatment you endure at work. The first act of my ( a future) Labour will be to strike it out.”
Fine words, but TTIP poses an even greater threat. A threat to our democracy, in the same year we are celebrating Magna Carta. “If” this gets the ‘Green Light’ say goodbye to democracy as we know it.
All those men, women and animals we will remember on Remembrance Sunday, might as well never have died.
It will have been a waste of human life and resources, but then American Corporate zeal knows no bounds. The Warren Buffet’s are the new Hitler’s of our time. Labour also needs to look to its past. Tony Blair was ever a friend to the US more so than to Britain, and is more popular there than here. A ‘puppet’ as malleable as clay, not only in Bush’s hands but in the hands of American Corporate Business. Think about that when Chilcot is published, if it ever is! An d what about Dr.Kelly? Was he murdered or did he commit suicide? Blair has ‘other’ questions to answer. Was it the CIA or MI5/6? We should know, but probably never will.
Peter is an historian and a local political activist.