Stop TTIP to save our NHS

For NHS campaigners, it is vital we keep the pressure on over TTIP.

TTIP ncrj

For NHS campaigners, it is vital we keep the pressure on over TTIP

Activists from across Europe will descend on major cities at the weekend to protest against the imposition of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (or TTIP) – a “free trade agreement” between the US and the EU.

Rarely does one issue help galvanise continental wide disapproval but in the case of TTIP, people from across the political spectrum in every EU member state are worried about what TTIP will mean for public services and democracy.

And worried they should be.

The agreement – which could be signed off by the end of the year, will see trade and regulatory barriers removed allowing private companies easier access to public services such as our NHS.

Proponents have argued it is about stimulating economic growth, creating jobs and bringing in £12bn of investment.

But since trade barriers are practically non-existent between the EU and US, detractors have pointed out regulatory systems around the environment, food safety and workers’ rights will be severely undermined.

If that was not bad enough, the real agenda of the UK government in promoting TTIP is to open up lucrative public services to contracts and competition from transnational corporations.

Powers granted under the “Investor-Dispute settlement scheme” (IDSS) will allow private companies to sue national governments for loss of profits if public policy decisions are taken after TTIP is introduced.

So in other words – if a future British government decided to kick out private contractors and keep the NHS public, those private companies would be able to sue the government for future profit loss as a result of a public policy change.

Elevating transnational companies to the equivalent legal status of a sovereign nation state has huge implications for democracy which is perhaps why the government has been very coy about the negotiations.

For NHS campaigners, it is vital we keep the pressure on to make sure our most prized public service is exempt from TTIP along with the scrapping of the IDSS.

Popular campaigning by War on Want, the World Development movement and trade unions such as Unite, have even led UKIP to realise which way the wind is blowing and also join calls to scrap TTIP.

The momentum is very much with anti-TTIP campaigners and the need for mass action and peaceful civil disobedience to stop TTIP has never been greater.

Together we can keep the fat cat’s claws off our NHS.

John Millington is Keep Our NHS Public press and campaigns officer. He writes this in a personal capacity.

Details of demonstration in London can be found here

28 Responses to “Stop TTIP to save our NHS”

  1. Paddy Briggs

    Dear oh dear. Reads like scare-mongering bollocks and almost certainly is. The sort of polemic that gives the Left a bad name.

  2. blarg1987

    Private Eye did a good article on this which was quite informative.

    It is unlikely that the TTIP would go that far as to many European countries have state controlled industries that they would want protecting.

    It would also be difficult for them to try and undermine, employment protections etc as this can be countered on the grounds of lack of consultation etc.

    What would be interesting to know would be if small companies here can sue the large corporates on the other side of the pond for failing to open up their subdivisions to new market entrants and in effect having things “in house” and so a right to compensation.
    If we make sure that any changes go both ways I am sure they would be very quick to retract the other clause that you are suggesting may appear.

  3. Leon Wolfeson

    So you don’t know, you’re using exactly the polemic you blame the left for, a narrative which ignores the reality. It’s you.

  4. Leon Wolfeson

    Again – If it’s to be defeated, we need to look to the EU Parliament, as the UK’s government is massively keen on it. Unsurprisingly.

  5. Leon Wolfeson

    Can small companies afford, to, oh, withstand patent litigation?

    Same reason, you need millions in the bank for the lawyers.

  6. Paddy Briggs

    It’s a very silly campaign. Free trade a cornerstone of modern society. TTIP has nothing whatsoever to do with the NHS. Paranoid nonsense.

  7. Godfrey Paul

    As are the Labour Party and the Liberal Party.

    The LibLabCon establishment is thoroughly pro-EU and this will lock us into the EU even further.

  8. Leon Wolfeson

    Except, of course, it’s Labour’s MEP’s who may well vote against it.

    And yes yes, they’re not anti-trade and for closing the borders to the 99%. Meanwhile, UKIP’s “conversion” on TTIP is very late – and it’s just the sort of model which would suit them from other statements your Dear Leader has made.

  9. Leon Wolfeson

    So the entire legal establishment etc. is wrong and paranoid. Got it. Never mind that’s the entire freaking point of a major portion of TTIP.

    I live on Earth, where do you live?

    (We already have essentially free trade with the US, this is about imposing US law on the EU – and the right have come down hard against membership of the EU and hence free trade, so…)

  10. Caroline Molloy

    UKIP hasn’t joined calls to scrap TTIP – it has recently said it will fight the inclusion of the NHS in TTIP, but there are many loopholes in that statement.

  11. Leon Wolfeson

    Ah, I thought that sounded too good to be true, thanks for the correction!

  12. blarg1987

    True small companies can;t but if we as a country get shafted by the policy, a future left wing government could assist small companies in their legal challenge or bring small companies together to form several cases, with combined resources because I doubt it will be one or two small companies that would suffer but hundreds.

  13. Paddy Briggs

    There is no chance that an individual State would feel obliged to open up a public sector operation, like the NHS, to competition if it didn’t want to. And to say as some are that it would mean the NHS being privatised is just absurd. The Health Service is already a puhlic/private partnership. Some parts of its operation are contracted out to the private sector and if this means greater ts efficiencies and value that’s good. The NHS is not, or should not be, a giant bureaucratic public sector job creation scheme. Taxpayers pay 18% of our taxes for the Health Service and we want value. So long as healthcare is of a high standard and broadly free I don’t care who provides it. Opposition to TTIP is pretty obviously from the same bodies who object to contracting out in the Health Service. In my view this contracting out is not privatisation but, if it’s properly done, a commonsense way of getting lower and a more efficient way of working. If we allow TTIP to improve the value and quality of those parts of the NHS we choose to contract out that has to be good.

  14. John Millington

    And this was the other source for the statement above. http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2014/10/02/ttip-vince-cable-ukip_n_5914040.html If anyone has UKIP’s exact statement, (I couldn’t find it) that would be helpful.

  15. John Millington

    Ah here it is. None of this should btw imply support for UKIP.

    UKIP’s Louise Bours said: “We are not anti-free market, but we are anti-NHS privatisation, and TTIP risks widespread privatisation under our very noses. As an independent nation we would be in a much better position to negotiate international trade agreements. Many non-EU countries manage it.”

  16. Leon Wolfeson

    The Coalition has have opened the NHS. You want “value”, I want proper care – and “broadly free” is precisely not where it’s headed.

    You can’t take anything back in-house under the plans. No matter how much sense it might make, etc. – it’s setting up a one-way ratchet. There’s no “chose” any more. It’s a distinct loss of sovereignty, for that matter!

  17. Leon Wolfeson

    Actually no, that’s state interference and would be barred by the court. And you can’t combine resources either, there’s no mechanism for that.

  18. blarg1987

    On the former , fair enough, on the latter, you can in effect by issuing a class action. If a future government made it easier for SME’s and individuals to file class actions then it could potentially be a good counter.

  19. Leon Wolfeson

    Class actions would need specific enabling in the the treaty law, you realise? And they are not.

    There’s absolutely no inherent right to them (we don’t have them for the end-user in domestic UK law, for instance, although some consumer rights organisations can bring them on consumer’s behalf).

  20. Leon Wolfeson

    “We are not anti-free market”

    So it’s more spin? Yea.

    The guff about how getting a worse deal alone is just silly too.

  21. blarg1987

    That’s why we should include it in the treaty, point being if the law works both ways, I am sure they will suddenly change their view on the treaty as a whole.

  22. Leon Wolfeson

    There’s absolutely no chance of that. And no, it would not, that’s just one of the many objectionable features about the treaty, would still allow challenges to insourcing etc. and could lead to some highly undesirable outcomes in and of itself!

  23. blarg1987

    I know there would be no chance of it, but that is the point it puts business in an untenable position to demand access to markets if they are unwilling to practice what whey preach.

    I will be honest I don;t want it either, I believe governments and businesses should be able to decide to in source if they want to. However if we are going to get shafted by these people, we are better to take them with us to make them change their view and drop the treaty altogether.

  24. Leon Wolfeson

    “I know there would be no chance of it”

    So why push it? It’s a distraction from stopping TTIP.

  25. blarg1987

    Because it will sway public opinion and put pressure on the TTIP deal to change it.

  26. Leon Wolfeson

    But it’s a tiny change which does not mitigate 99.9% of what’s bad about TTIP, and it’s something other than the plain rejection which afaik is required.

  27. collodin

    This all about increasing debt for us and our respective nations and enriching crooked corporations at our expense. Our supposed representatives are supposed to represent us not them if they do not want represent us then stand down rather than betray us.

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