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Remember the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership? Also known as TTIP? The proposed agreement between the EU and USA that – in its current form – would lock future UK governments into a legal framework that protects the privatisation of health services in this country?
A part of the agreement called the Investor-State Dispute Settlement would allow any commercial organisation the ability to sue governments that acted in an anti-commercial way such as – for example – re-nationalising health services that the Conservative-led Coalition has sold off to firms in which many government MPs have shady personal financial interests.
David Cameron used to have a cabinet minister responsible for handling negotiations on the TTIP – Kenneth Clarke, the Minister Without Portfolio (aha! Now we know what he was supposed to be doing for a living).
But of course Clarke left the government in the July reshuffle. He gave every indication that he was delighted to be going, which suggests that work on the TTIP was not agreeing with him.
Perhaps it was the weight of all those people campaigning against the locked-in commercialisation of the NHS, in which treatment for particular conditions will depend on whether it is profitable where you live, coupled with the weight of Cameron’s determination to do nothing to prevent it – all obscured by the veil of secrecy that all involved have tried to draw across the negotiations.
Unite’s Len McCluskey told the Huffington Post: “First David Cameron claims there are no exemptions [so the NHS will be included in the deal – we should always remember that is Cameron’s default position], then EU Trade Commission[er] Karel De Gucht suggests that the NHS may have been exempted.
“Now civil servants are sending out statements claiming that the NHS was never in TTIP to begin with. It seems the government simply does not know what the world’s largest bilateral trade deal actually covers.”
Confusion! That’s an excellent way to slip in unwelcome changes – but it would mean the government was admitting its own incompetence.
McCluskey added: “David Cameron can choose to exempt the NHS if he’s prepared to fight for it. He was prepared to go to Europe to defend bankers’ bonuses.”
Good point. Despite the fact that bankers caused the financial crisis and many banks are still in debt, Cameron went to Europe to defend the ridiculously high bonuses they continue to award themselves. Then again, Cameron and his ministers have spent the last five years pretending that the crisis was entirely the fault of the previous Labour government. They must think we are stupid if they think we’ll swallow that – and we must bear that in mind when considering Coalition policy towards the TTIP.
Under the TTIP, a few other British standards will also suffer, according to the HuffPost:
- We will be forced to accept other countries’ rules. UKIP voters take note that your party supports the TTIP.
- Bosses will be allowed to reduce wages and hammer labour rights.
- Food regulations will be weakened to allow banned products – like chlorine-bleached chicken and growth hormones in beef – into the country.
- The UK could be forced to reverse its ban on asbestos in order to match US standards, leading to an increase in lung cancer and mesothelioma.
- Private information about you could become public under e-commerce provisions – although it seems the Conservative-led UK government is already determined to publicise as much of your personal information as possible.
Put it all together and you can tell why the Coalition, the EU and the USA all want to keep this squalid deal secret!
The question is: Are you going to let them get away with it?
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