Tories and Lib Dems collaborate to help corporations sue countries

Ignored: Protesters from across the EU who have mounted a huge campaign against the corporatists who want to override your rights in the name of profit. [Image: Huffington Post].

Ignored: Protesters from across the EU who have mounted a huge campaign against the corporatists who want to override your rights in the name of profit. [Image: Huffington Post].

Did you think the Budget was the only important thing that happened yesterday (July 8)? Think again.

The European Parliament had its first-ever vote on the controversial TTIP trade deal between the EU and the United States – and, thanks to British Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, it went against the will of the people.

Millions of us, across Europe, have demanded the removal of part of the proposed partnership agreement that allows corporations to take legal action against national governments if they pass laws that inhibit the firms’ profit-making ability.

But a compromise on the controversial Investor-State Dispute Settlement mechanism (ISDS) secured a majority, with help from the UK’s Liberal Democrat and Conservative MEPs.

It was opposed by Labour, Green, Plaid Cymru, SNP and UKIP MEPs

Stronger amendments, that were opposed to ISDS altogether, were kept off the agenda by procedural manoeuvres – leading to EU President Martin Schulz being accused of “shredding the rules of procedure”.

Nick Dearden of Global Justice Now said: “The only reason that MEPs are still trying so desperately to push this through is because of the enormously powerful corporate lobby machine in Brussels. TTIP is fundamentally an issue of people and democracy versus encroaching corporate power.”

Campaigning group 38 Degrees released a press release stating: “We know exactly what the corporate lobbyists writing this deal want: they want us to go quiet.”

Instead, the group is proposing a series of actions to ramp up the pressure:

  • Another huge national day of action. “Enormous public pressure has been a huge factor in causing chaos around TTIP so far. We know that as soon as people get the facts, outrage follows. The more people that know, the more worried decision makers will be.”
  • Commission an expert report on TTIP, to throw in the face of anyone who says it is a good idea. “It’d give us a valuable chance at media coverage, and we can take out adverts in newspapers and online to expose the findings.”
  • Meet face-to-face with MPs to ask them directly where they stand on TTIP “and what they’ll do to represent the British public’s opposition.”
  • Get ready for MEPs to come back from their summer holidays and be ready to pile the pressure on them again. “As soon as they’re back, they need to be reminded about TTIP. We need to make sure that whenever the next vote is, we’re ready to step in.”

“To be honest, this is probably one of the hardest issues 38 Degrees members have ever taken on. Many people hear “trade deal” and their eyes glaze over. The acronyms and figures that fly out of the mouths of TTIP officials are designed to get people to switch off,” the 38 Degrees press release states.

“But when people like us hear what’s going on and choose to stand up, that changes everything. TTIP has gone from zero public awareness to huge public outrage. There’s plenty more we can do together to stop this awful deal.”

Visit 38 Degrees to learn more.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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  1. Liam July 9, 2015 at 3:04 pm - Reply

    Good evening Mike do you know when the reduction in esa will start utter utter swines :(

    • Mike Sivier July 10, 2015 at 12:06 am - Reply

      Bear in mind that current claimants will not be affected.
      But be aware that this probably means they’ll try to throw everybody off ESA, to be reassessed with new claims.

  2. Neilth July 9, 2015 at 3:49 pm - Reply

    How can it be good for democracy to give more power to the multinationals at the expense of elected government. This isn’t just putting Dracula in charge of the blood banks (actually they’ve already figuratively done this) it’s letting the vampires decide when, if and what kind of blood they’ll allow and how much to charge for access and when they get too greedy, which is inevitable, they can stop us from going elsewhere for supplies.

  3. Joan Edington July 9, 2015 at 7:38 pm - Reply

    I got an email from The People’s NHS this afternoon congratulating themselves on stopping an amendment to TTIP that would have weakened the NHS even more than is now possible. Do you know what that amendment was, Mike?

  4. casalealex July 9, 2015 at 9:23 pm - Reply

    Hansard 15 Jan 2015 : Column 1076
    Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership
    Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Lindsay Hoyle): I inform the House that the amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Caroline Lucas) has not been selected. I call Geraint Davies, who has 10 to 15 minutes to move the motion.
    2.31 pm
    Geraint Davies (Swansea West) (Lab/Co-op): I beg to move,
    That this House believes that the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and any associated investor-state dispute settlement provisions should be subject to scrutiny in the European Parliament and the UK Parliament.
    I thank the 60 or so MPs who supported this Backbench Business Committee debate, as well as the Committee’s Chair and those who supported the early-day motion and my International Trade Agreements (Scrutiny) Bill. This debate is supported by trade unions, business and environmental movements, and 38 Degrees has also got involved. Many people are encouraged and Members are glad that they are able to engage with hundreds of constituents on this important issue.
    This issue is fundamental to the balance of power between democracy and multinational giants who want to impose their interests on our democratic rights. Our right to scrutinise this very important and strategic trade agreement, which will have global ramifications into the future, is imperative. If we end up with a situation where multinational companies are able to sue democratically elected Governments over laws they have passed to protect their citizens, we will be in the wrong place altogether.
    Mr Robin Walker (Worcester) (Con):
    Moving on, I want to address a real concern about parliamentary scrutiny of this issue, particularly in respect of one particular organisation that has given evidence to our Select Committee and caused a significant amount of distress to members of all parties on that Committee. I regret to say that that organisation is the executive—not the members—of 38 Degrees. We heard from a wide variety of interests, including many who approached us with a view to getting their concerns discussed, accepting that parliamentary scrutiny is important. I really welcome that approach being taken by so many organisations.
    Like many Members, I get letters from 38 Degrees and respect the concerns that their members raise. I have met 38 Degrees members in my constituency to discuss their concerns. I do not always agree with their campaigns, but I respect the interest in political discourse that they are encouraging. However, when it came to their evidence to the BIS Committee, I am afraid that the executive of 38 Degrees has let its members down. The attitude that their representative arrived with appeared to be that parliamentary scrutiny—the very purpose of this motion and the object of our inquiry— was secondary to the campaign in which he was engaged, and that it was for MPs to passively accept the views that he was there to express and in no way to question them.
    When asked by the Committee Chairman about the approach the organisation had taken to the campaign, the spokesman immediately became defensive and started to attack politicians in general and the parliamentary process in particular. When asked whether public or official information that disagreed with their assertions was being provided to 38 Degrees members, he first sought to avoid the question and then misled the Select Committee.
    The specific issue in point here is the letter from Commissioner Bercero to the right hon. Member for Wentworth and Dearne (John Healey) in which the Commissioner actually handling the TTIP negotiations at the time answered concerns that the Labour party had legitimately raised about the impact of TTIP on the NHS. The letter made it clear that there was no threat of privatisation of the NHS as a result of TTIP, and that as a public service it could be protected. It said that it was up to the UK Government and UK political parties what changes they made to the UK laws affected by it. On the issue of a risk about which Labour was concerned—the ability to change the Health and Social Care Act 2012 owing to ISDS—the letter said:
    “If a future UK Government, or a public body to which power has been devolved, were to reverse decisions taken under a previous Government, for example by discontinuing services provided by a foreign operator, it would be entirely at liberty to do so.  However, it would have to respect. Having been briefed about this letter and seen it in the brief for our Select Committee, I did not think it was unreasonable to ask whether this information had been shared with 38 Degrees members to reassure them where they had concerns on this issue. The response of Mr Babbs was immediately to say, “Yes, we have shared that.” However, in supplementary evidence sent to the Committee a few weeks after the meeting, a representative of 38 Degrees had to admit that that this was untrue, writing:
    “The Committee has requested further information about a letter from John Healey that I said I believed was on our website. Having reviewed all of the information on our website (as you will have seen, there is a lot there), I can confirm that this letter is in fact not on the website.”
    Misleading a Select Committee is a serious matter, but I am sure that, if that were the only case, we would all understand that mistakes can be made. However, in the same conversation, Mr Babbs was asked about an article on Buzzfeed which bore the 38 Degrees logo, was headed “TTIP—Four ways a four letter word could ruin your life” and included the headline “Goodbye NHS hello permanent privatisation”. He disclaimed all knowledge of this article, and sought to imply that members of the Committee were out of touch if they did not understand that organisations have no editorial control over what appears on the internet, saying:
    “I do not know if you are familiar with the way Buzzfeed works. Anyone can create a Buzzfeed article. It is not something that 38 Degrees produces. I have not seen that piece, so I cannot comment on it.”
    In supplementary evidence, 38 Degrees has now written to the Committee as follows:
    “I can confirm that the article was written and uploaded by a member of staff at 38 Degrees.”
    It is, perhaps, welcome that 38 Degrees has acknowledged its mistakes and accepted some responsibility for the arguments that it has published. However, despite repeated questioning from a number of members of the Committee, the representative of 38 Degrees was not prepared to acknowledge any flaws in the way in which it had presented its arguments. Indeed, it has launched an aggressive campaign of letter-writing and intimidation. A Labour colleague’s researcher has been reduced to tears, and a Conservative colleague who is always softly spoken and reasonable has been accused of being a harridan. I do not think that that type of campaigning strengthens parliamentary scrutiny, or our ability in this place to hold the Government or the European Commission to account.
    Mr John Spellar (Warley) (Lab): I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Swansea West (Geraint Davies) not only on securing the debate but on making it clear in his introduction that he is in favour of trade, and free trade. However, I think he must also accept that he is in some strange company with that particular argument. Many of those campaigning on this issue are definitely not in favour of trade, and I have been on public platforms where they have actually declared as much. I think that they are also against capitalism, 
and they are definitely against anything to do with the United States. It is interesting to note that, whereas we have a huge number of trade agreements, this issue has only become contentious when the United States has become involved.
    We are talking about the creation of a free trade area and a trading and investing bloc amounting to about half the world’s GDP. That is significant to all of us who argue strongly that engagement in the European Union as part of a wider market is enormously important to working people in this country. Engagement in that much wider market, and, in particular, setting better benchmarks for world trade, is also enormously important, but it does not seem to have any impact on organisations such as 38 Degrees. Like other Members who have spoken, I have a slightly ambivalent attitude to 38 Degrees. It has some very decent supporters, many of whom are very concerned and engaged citizens, but it also has a nihilist, hysterical leadership.
    Question put and agreed to.
    That this House believes that the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and any associated investor-state dispute settlement provisions should be subject to scrutiny in the European Parliament and the UK Parliament.

  5. John Gaines July 10, 2015 at 9:43 am - Reply

    In danger of losing the Vote, what did Strasbourg do? it did its usual tricks, it stalled.

    MEPs vote to suspend TTIP debate in StrasbourgContinue reading the main story
    Related Stories

    TTIP talks: Food fights block EU–US trade deal

    MEPs have narrowly voted to suspend a debate on the current state of TTIP negotiations, during the opening of their plenary sitting in Strasbourg.

    The decision to postpone discussion of a contentious resolution on the EU-US trade deal passed by 183 votes to 181, with 37 MEPs abstaining.

    That is Dead-mocracy, European style.

    Democracy dead!

  6. stevecheneysindieopinions4u July 11, 2015 at 7:34 am - Reply

    I suspect the important thing is to appeal to their self-interest. Tell them that their re-election depends on their speaking for the people.

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