Tag Archives: commercial

GP practice opts ALL patients out of NHS data giveaway. Ask yours to do the same

Here’s an interesting message, publicised by a civil servant at the Department of Health:

You’ll be aware that the Tories had been planning to pass private details of your mental and sexual health, criminal records, smoking and drinking habits to profiteers without telling you.

They had created a scam scheme in which they would hand over the medical histories of more than 55 million NHS England patients to profit-making organisations – unless the patients opted out.

But they never actually bothered to tell anybody what they were doing.

Instead, people found out through sites like this one – and kicked up such an outcry that the government announced it was delaying the data upload from the beginning of July to the beginning of September.

Announcing the delay, Health Minister Jo Churchill said ministers would use the extra time to “talk to doctors, patients and charities to strengthen the plan… and ensure data is accessed securely”.

I have no idea whether any of this has actually happened.

The message to Mr Thomas makes it clear that the government hasn’t been talking to patients, despite the assurance that it would.

It also suggests very strongly that whatever the government has been doing, it has made a liar of Ms Churchill.

So the action taken by his GP practice to opt all patients out seems entirely appropriate and I would urge anybody in England who has not received any communication about the plan from the government to contact your own GP practice and ask for it to do the same.

It’s what I’d be doing if I lived in England.

Friendly advice: This is important. Do it now – and don’t rely on anyone else to do it for you.

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Victory for grassroots campaign as Tories ‘delay’ giving away your private NHS patient data

This is a victory for social media campaigners like This Site.

The Tories had been planning to pass private details of your mental and sexual health, criminal records, smoking and drinking habits to profiteers without telling you.

They had created a scam scheme in which they would hand over the medical histories of more than 55 million NHS England patients to profit-making organisations – unless the patients opted out.

But they never actually bothered to tell anybody what they were doing.

I mean: if you’re in England, did you see the national advertising campaign on TV, the social media and in the newspapers? Did you catch the news spots with NHS and government representatives debating it with some of the many organisations who oppose it?

I didn’t think so.

Yet Health Minister Jo Churchill, announcing the “delay” in Parliament, had the bare-faced cheek to say the government was “absolutely determined to take people with us”.

The impression I get is that hardly anybody knew a single thing about it until Vox Political – along with a few other social media organisations – publicised it on June 2.

By then, less than three weeks were left before the original June 23 deadline for opting out.

So it was risible when Churchill told Parliament “patients own their own data”.

If that’s an admission that the Tories don’t own patient data, then why have they been trying to sell it ever since they formed their government in 2010? Isn’t that, you know, theft?

The good news is that This Site’s article – and those of the other social media sites that took an interest – caught the public interest and the government had to step back.

The Tories wouldn’t have announced this delay if they had not received significant resistance to their plan.

And the really good news is that the delay means more people can opt out of the scheme.

You can do this by providing this online form to your GP – or by using this website. I strongly urge you to do so.

Be sure to enjoy the “mythbusting” section of the website in which the Tories say it’s all perfectly innocent. And then ignore it.

Source: New NHS patient data store delayed by two months – BBC News

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If you’re in England, the government is planning to hand your private health records to people you don’t know – again

Readers in England: are you happy that the Tory government is about to pass private details of your mental and sexual health, criminal records, smoking and drinking habits to profiteers?

Tory-run NHS Digital will hand over the medical histories of more than 55 million patients to “third parties” to “support the planning and commissioning of health and care services, the development of health and care policy, public health monitoring and interventions (including COVID-19) and enable many different areas of research.”

The announcement is carefully worded to avoid suggesting that your details are going to people who plan to make money out of them, but the simple fact is that, before privatisation was introduced in 2012, nobody but the NHS would have needed your records for the reasons given.

You can opt out of the scheme before June 23 by providing this online form to your GP – or by using this website. I strongly urge you to do so – and to ignore the “mythbusting” section of the website in which the Tories say it’s all perfectly innocent. They would, wouldn’t they?

If you think the Tories can be trusted on this, bear in mind that NHS Digital said the data could not be used “solely for commercial purposes”, which means that it will be used partly for commercial purposes.

Digital rights campaign group Foxglove has written to health secretary Matt Hancock suggesting that this plan is illegal.

And campaigners have also raised concerns that the scheme has not been sufficiently publicised. Did you know about it before reading this?

Healthcare IT News quoted Phil Booth of privacy organisation MedConfidential as follows:

“For the Government to rush out a data grab like this, with only a few weeks’ notice for patients and for GPs, is not only corrosive of trust – it’s deeply irresponsible. GPs are the busiest they’ve ever been and dumping this on them without time to prepare and the resources to handle patients’ opt-outs is the very worst sort of digital disruption.”

Absolutely.

NHS Digital is desperate to convince us that the data could only be used by “organisations which can show they have an appropriate legal basis and a legitimate need to use it”.

But recent experiences of health secretary Matt Hancock’s dealings with the private sector suggest that the database will go to anybody who has bunged the Tory Party a few quid over the last 10 or 20 years.

And, let’s face it, the Tories have a very poor record of trying to sell off your NHS records for a quick buck.

It’s one of the stories that has kept repeating over the last (nearly) 10 years, and This Site has reported on its progress:

The Tories tried to put GP records in a central database in 2013 under the Care.data programme, but it was abandoned in 2016 after confidentiality complaints.

My report of the time shows that the Tories are still using the same weak excuse for exploiting your private data, that failed to convince anyone eight years ago:

[Then-Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt] thinks this gross abuse of patient confidentiality is a good idea. But then, he’s a Tory and therefore thinks he has a God-given right to take anything, from anyone, if they have less filthy lucre than himself.

According to the Daily Mail – and you know the Tories have lost the plot when even the Heil weighs in against them – the *unt wants us to believe that the information will be valuable for medical research and screening for common diseases.

Doctors say Mr *unt and NHS England have failed in their duty to publicise the plan in a proper and reasonable way, that patients are not getting an “informed” choice about the matter, and that patients could be identified from the data with any information other than that on common conditions – which, we’ve already established, becomes public knowledge anyway.

Same excuses, same failure to publicise the plan… so we have all the same reasons to withdraw our permission. Don’t we?

I reported on it again in 2014.

And in 2016, after a review into care.data recommended that the scheme be scrapped, the Tories tried to sell your information anyway, but just without telling you.

Again, This Site reported on it:

The government’s review proposes to allow medical records from your family doctor, (possibly including NHS Numbers, diagnoses, referrals, prescriptions along with postcodes and dates of birth) to be uploaded to a giant national database – but this time without telling us or asking for our consent.

One of the schemes to replace care.data is called the “Single GP dataset”. The government’s review into care.data proposes to send all patient records from family GPs to the central database without the express consent of patients. Once in the system, it can be “sold” to any customers of the ‘Health and Social Care Information centre”, including private companies.

The government buried this announcement on the day of the report into the Iraq War. It is hoping no one will notice this new land grab on our medical records.

But people did notice.

And now I’m reporting on it again, so you will notice it again. I hope you will put a stop to it again, too.

And then I’ll look forward to reporting on another Tory bid to sell this information.

Judging by experience, we’ll be back here again in 2025.

Source: Privacy fears over NHS plans to share GP medical records with third parties | Healthcare IT News

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How long must we let the government hide the facts about its dodgy deals behind ‘commercial sensitivity’?

A contractor walks inside Carillion’s Royal Liverpool Hospital site [Image: Reuters].


The critical Con (and I use the word with a capital letter for a reason) of hiring private companies to do government business rears its ugly head yet again.

We were told we couldn’t see the full impact assessments on Brexit because they were “commercially sensitive”. In fact, they didn’t exist.

We are told we cannot see information on the activities of privately-run public services, such as Atos, Capita and G4S, because they are commercially sensitive and are therefore exempt from examination under the Freedom of Information Act (S.43 exemption).

Undoubtedly there are other examples.

And we know the facts are being hidden from us because they would reflect badly on the companies and the government – that is why efforts to open companies with government contract up to public scrutiny have been rejected by the Tories.

What have they got to hide?

Tory ministers have been attacked for refusing to publish a report on doomed Carillion’s performance – because it’s “commercially sensitive”.

The Ministry of Justice has confirmed it commissioned an independent review into prison maintenance, millions of pounds of which was outsourced to the stricken giant, early last year.

The review was carried out after prisons minister Sam Gyimah said he was “not impressed” by Carillion’s maintenance work in September 2016 and the firm was sent a formal warning.

Despite the row, the firm went on to win another £40million in Ministry of Justice contracts last year – before collapsing leaving 20,000 jobs in the balance.

Yet ministers say the report – together with other reports on Carillion’s effectiveness including an “improvement plan” – will not be handed to the independent House of Commons Library.

Justice minister Rory Stewart wrote: “There are no plans to place the information in the library as the report contains commercially sensitive information.”

Source: Tory government refuses to publish official report on doomed Carillion’s performance because it’s ‘commercially sensitive’ – Mirror Online


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Many people want the BBC to die – because they do not realise what will follow

bbc_logo1
Earlier today (Christmas Eve) This Writer posted the following short film by campaigners 38 Degrees on the Vox Political Facebook page:

To say it received a mixed reaction is probably a huge underestimation.

Here are some of the comments:

“You havin a laugh, the bbc is a biased thieving bullying nepotism riddled pea do protecting empire , f””” k off.”

“The BBC is now a totally corrupt government and corporate mouthpiece. It’s reputation in tatters. Let it die.”

“Who cares if the bbc fails? Let it happen.”

“The licence system is out of date, a compulsory tax to watch tv? the dinosaurs need to be killed off and compete on a level playing field with other stations/broadcasters.”

“ill protect it when it starts holding govenment to account rather than being its mouthpiece.”

It seems very clear that these are people who haven’t thought this through.

As a publicly-funded entity, it is possible to pull the BBC back from the right-wing viewpoint that it currently puts forward, most particularly in its news and current affairs output.

If you allow the Conservative Government to attack the BBC, with a view to its eventual death, perhaps you haven’t considered what will rush in to fill the gap:

You’ll get a lot of commercial channels – some funded by adverts, some fund by subscription, and some funded by both. All will be owned by private concerns and therefore all of them will be entirely devoted to the interests of those private concerns.

In other words, if you think BBC bias is bad, you’ll be facing a rude awakening when it is gone!

I don’t want TV (and/or radio) that caters for the extremely rich, promotes the interests and ideology of the extremely rich, and charges the poor huge amounts to receive it, but that is what will happen.

Those of you who have written against the BBC are actively campaigning for an utterly biased, right-wing media dictatorship.

I wonder why you want that.

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POLL: Is it time for Rachel Reeves to go?

Rachel Reeves: Is she a closet Tory who has gone too far?

Rachel Reeves: One mistake too many?

Today Vox Political pointed out that Labour’s Rachel Reeves has hired an advisor from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), a foreign-owned company that is already advising the Conservative and Liberal Democrat Coalition government, and actually writing laws on tax while helping companies and the very rich to avoid paying it.

It seems clear that she is, as we put it, sleeping with the enemy and it seems likely that this relationship would continue if Labour were to form a government next year – aiding PwC in its aim of being in control, no matter which political party is supported by the people.

Do British people want to live in a corporatocracy like that?

It seems that, if Rachel Reeves has her way, your vote really will count for nothing (who’d have thought she’d be an agent of Lynton Crosby’s ‘They’re all the same’ agenda?) and the corporate bosses will run the country for their own gain and to our detriment.

Alternatively, is it time she received her marching orders and was shipped off to the backbenches, along with her corporate adviser?

Is it time we told Labour that we don’t want to elect another party of corporate lapdogs?

Should we tell Ed Miliband we want him to make his own decisions, untainted by the interests of big businesses that have no intention of helping the poor?

He won’t know unless we tell him.

What do you think?

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Rachel Reeves is sleeping with the enemy

—Putting her foot in it again: Rachel Reeves has a history of stupid decisions. Now she has employed one of the UK's leading tax avoidance advisors to help her, when we need to END tax avoidance in order to improve the benefits bill.

—Putting her foot in it again: Rachel Reeves has a history of stupid decisions. Now she has employed one of the UK’s leading tax avoidance advisors to help her, when we need to END tax avoidance in order to improve the benefits bill.

This is very disturbing, from the new Private Eye (1379):

“Rachel Reeves, Labour’s shadow work and pensions secretary, is the latest Opposition member to accept help from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

“The management consultant is supplying an analyst to support Reeves from October to January… This suggests that, although Labour has made a lot of noise about the government’s work with unpopular contractors like Atos and A4e, the People’s Party intends to stick with this commercial approach to welfare should it find itself back in power next year.

“PwC is already involved in advising the government on ‘commissioning’ welfare services; and last year Tory employment minister Mark Hoban asked it to help strengthen ‘quality assurance’ in the fitness-to-work tests carried out by Atos [PwC is Hoban’s former employer, implying an inappropriate relationship from the get-go]. This didn’t seem to work, as Atos quit the contract this year after much criticism.

“Reeves’ timing is unfortunate, to say the least. PwC is currently heavily implicated in the latest scandal of big corporations avoiding tax through Luxembourg. Most of the leaked documents show PwC was helping arrange all those tax-free tricks.”

PwC is, along with the rest of the ‘Big Four’ accountancy firms – Deloitte, KPMG and Ernst & Young – of course, well-known to Vox Political. Along with the others, it has been invited to actually write government legislation on behalf of the Tories and Liberal Democrats – specifically UK law on tax avoidance – while running many tax avoidance schemes.

In a previous article, Vox Political wrote: “The Department for Work and Pensions has employed many private firms; this is the reason that department is haemorrhaging money. There are the work programme provider firms who, as has been revealed in previous blog entries, provide absolutely no useful training and are less likely to find anyone a job than if they carried on by themselves; there are the IT firms currently working on Universal Credit, about which Secretary of State Iain Duncan Smith lied to Parliament when he said he was having to write off £34 million of expenditure – the true figure was later revealed to be closer to £161 million, almost five times as much; there are Atos and Capita, and probably other firms that have been hired to carry out so-called ‘work capability assessments’ of people claiming sickness, incapacity and disability benefits, according to a plan that intentionally ignores factual medical evidence and places emphasis on a bogus, tick-box test designed to find ways to cut off their support; and there is Unum Insurance, the criminal American corporation that designed that test, in order to push British workers into buying its bogus insurance policies that work on exactly the same principle – this is theft on a grand scale.”

This blog has warned that the bosses of companies like Unum, Atos and KPMG (and by extension, PwC) were planning to ensure that they would have government contracts, no matter which political party was in office. In effect, Vox Political warned, they would be unelected kings because whatever you decided at the ballot box, they would be in charge.

In another article, Vox Political pointed out that money paid to these companies does not benefit the British economy but goes abroad to their foreign headquarters or parent companies. PwC is part-American-owned.

In October last year, this blog stated that if Rachel Reeves had promised to be as tough on tax dodgers, in her previous job as shadow chief secretary to the treasury, as she promised to be on welfare in her first speech as shadow work and pensions secretary, Labour might have a lot more credibility.

The article said that ensuring we get the money that is currently going unpaid by tax dodgers – who are facilitated by firms like PwC – would ease the benefit bill as it would take up a smaller proportion of the national tax take. And now she is taking advice from PwC.

Maybe someone at PwC read the article and decided to take preventative action.

It seems clear that if Labour has any involvement with this company – or allows it to continue working behind the scenes on government business – it will not be in the public interest, and in fact is highly likely to harm the public good.

So we must ask:

Rachel Reeves, what the blue blazes do you think you are doing?

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Cameron has shown that protecting the NHS from corporate rape is the last of his concerns

What a bunch of... bankers: As mentioned in the article, government ministers are happy to spend your money defending bankers' bonuses in the European Union - but when it comes to defending your publicly-funded health service, they haven't squeaked.

What a bunch of… bankers: As mentioned in the article, the government is happy to spend your money defending bankers’ bonuses in the European Union – but when it comes to defending your publicly-funded health service, they haven’t squeaked.

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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Atos ‘death threats’ claim – ‘outrageous’ insult to those its regime has killed

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9KrychGaA78&feature=share

“If this isn’t intimidation, I don’t know what is – it’s a very clear message to anyone: How dare you protest against us and, if you do, we’ll find you fit for work!” Anti-Atos protester Joanne Jemmett with the sign left by Atos workers outside the assessment centre in Weston-Super-Mare on Wednesday (“Fit enough to protest – fit enough to work!”) at the start of this short film documenting the demonstration there.

Watching the stories stack up in the wake of the national day of protest against Atos last Wednesday has been very interesting.

The immediate response was that Atos has approached the government, seeking an early end to its contract. This deal, under which Atos administers the hated Work Capability Assessments to people on incapacity or disability benefits, would have been worth more than £1 billion to the company over a 10-year period.

Allegedly, company employees have been receiving death threats, both during and after the protests. We’ll come back to those shortly.

The Conservative-led Coalition took this development in the way we have come to expect – spitefully. A DWP spokesperson said that the company’s service had declined to an unacceptable level, and that the government was already seeking tenders from other firms for the contract.

This is what happens when bullies squabble.

Atos is the big bully that has just had a shock because the other kids in the playground stood up to it and made it clear they weren’t going to stand for its nonsense any more. We’re told that all bullies are cowards and it appears to be true in this case – Atos went running to the bigger bully (the government) and said it was scared. The government then did what bigger bullies do; it said Atos was rubbish anyway and set about finding someone else to do its dirty work.

Here’s the sticking-point, though – as the BBC identified in its article: “The government was furious with Atos for leaking information it believes to be commercially confidential… If Atos wants to pull out early, some other companies may pay less to take those contracts on than they otherwise would.”

I should clarify that companies don’t actually pay for contracts; they offer to carry out the work at the lowest prices they think are viable, in competition with other firms. The government chooses the company it feels is best-suited to the work. In this situation, it seems likely that the possibility of death threats may put some firms off even applying.

So let’s come back to those threats. A spokesperson for the organisers of Wednesday’s demonstration tells us that pickets took place outside 93 Atos centres, across the UK. Most of these were very small – averaging 30 people or less (I can confirm that in Newtown, Powys, a maximum of 15 people attended at any one time). Brighton and London were bigger, but 12 demos had only one person present.

“That is really funny because, as you have seen, Atos are saying they had to close down all their centres for the day – up and down the country – because of huge hoards of scary, threatening disabled people issuing death threats,” the spokesperson said.

“All demos were peaceful and no trouble or arrests were reported.”

In the spokesperson’s opinion: “Atos have been planning to step down for a long time because they weren’t making enough profit and just used our tiny little demos as an excuse.”

Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) and sister group Black Triangle issued a joint statement: “The bizarre exit strategy Atos have developed in identifying apparent physical threats on Facebook despite the growing lists of real deaths caused by the WCA regime is an outrageous insult to all those who have died and all those who have lost family members through this regime.

“It is an insult to those left without their homes, without money and needing to go to food banks.

“It is an insult to every person who has suffered worsening physical and mental health through this inhuman regime.”

The statement also poured water on any government claim that other companies had been put off bidding for the contract:”The alphabet corporations – G4S, A4E, SERCO, CAPITA – are already lining up to take over the multi-million profits and the mantle of the new Grim Reapers. The misery imposed by this Government and the DWP will continue as long as its heinous policies continue.”

I would strongly urge all readers to put their support behind the remainder of the statement, which asserted: “The Work Capability Assessment must also end.

“The reign of terror by this unelected Coalition Government which has awarded itself pay rises and cut taxes for those earning more than £150,000 while piling punishment, poverty, misery and premature death on everyone else in its policies of rich against poor must end.

“Make no mistake – we will continue to demonstrate against ATOS, now delivering the complete failure of PIP in which claims are being delayed by up to a year.

“We will demonstrate against any other company that takes over the WCA contract.

“We will continue to demand the immediate removal of the WCA, and the removal of this Government.”

Hear, hear.

In my article on the Bedroom Tax evictions taking place in my home town (yesterday) I made it clear that too few people are bothering to pay attention to the evils of the Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition government. That article received a huge response, garnering almost four times the readership of other recent posts within just 24 hours.

The situation described in this article is much worse – people aren’t being evicted from their homes; they are being forced off of the benefits that have kept them alive, pushed – by the government! – towards destitution, despair and death through either suicide or a failure of their health that their Atos assessment results deny should ever take place.

Today’s article should have more readers, after the success of yesterday’s – but we’ll have to see, shan’t we? If fewer people read it, we’ll know that they all just looked up for a moment, thought, “Oh, that’s interesting,” and went back to whatever distraction keeps them happy in the face of impending government-sponsored pain.

Any attempt to inform the public will fail if the public stops paying attention.

Let’s keep it focused where it belongs.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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Osborne’s bid to end democracy by the back door

140115TTIP

The Coalition government has finally put its cards on the table, calling for the completion of a ‘free trade’ agreement with the United States of America that will end democracy as we know it today.

Do you think this statement is needlessly hyperbolic? In fact, it probably does not make the point strongly enough!

You will lose the ability to affect government policy – particularly on the National Health Service; after the Health and Social Care Act, the trade agreement would put every decision relating to its work on a commercial footing. The rights of transnational corporations would become the priority, health would become primarily a trade issue and your personal well-being would be of no consequence whatsoever.

Profit will rule.

Also threatened would be any other public service that has been privatised by this and previous governments, along with any that are privatised in the future; all would fall under the proposed agreement. So the debate over energy bills would be lost because gas and electricity provision would come under the agreement, along with water and the Royal Mail, among others.

Speaking today (Wednesday), Osborne announced: “We should set ourselves the urgent task of completing the transatlantic trade and investment partnership – the EU-US Free Trade agreement.

“This would be the world’s biggest ever trade deal – together our economies would account for half of global output.

“The Commission estimate it would boost the European economy by 120 billion euros a year – that’s over 500 euros for every family in the EU. It would bring £10 billion pounds a year to the UK alone.

“Some in the European Parliament talk about stalling this Trans-Atlantic Partnership to pursue other agendas.

“But when a quarter of young people looking for work in Europe are unemployed, this would be a complete betrayal.

“We need to create jobs, increase trade, support business growth – we’ve got the European tools to help with the job, let’s get on and use them.”

Did you notice that, for him, it’s all about the money? Yes – he mentions job creation. But these jobs would be provided under terms dictated by the hugely powerful global corporations. Their bosses would take the profits and ground-level employees would be treated like – well, like Orwell’s metaphor for the future: a giant boot, stamping on your face, forever.

You may have heard very little about this – and for a good reason. The architects of the planned agreement want the deal done before anybody realises what is going on and organises robust protest against it.

So let’s give you some of the facts:

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The US/EU Trade and Investment partnership (TTIP), called Transatlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA) in the US, is a bilateral trade agreement between the US and the EU. It goes much further than any previous EU trade agreement in deregulating, in establishing the rights of transnational corporations and in undermining the ability of governments to control corporations.

It is set to completely change our society, and is already in process, as with the NHS.

‘Trade’ and ‘international trade agreements’ are different. While most people would consider trade to be good thing, international trade agreements give rights to transnational corporations while reducing states’ rights to regulate them, thus reducing democracy.

All free trade agreements include goods, services and intellectual property rights – but the additional elements of the TTIP that are the main part of the agreement are much more far-reaching. These are regulatory harmonisation, investor state dispute settlement and the intention to establish global rules via these trade agreements.

‘Regulatory harmonisation’ means ‘harmonising’ regulation between the EU and US, downwards to the most lax form, across all areas, to suit transnational corporations. This will mean the degrading of regulation on health and safety, food, environment, labour standards, privacy and much more, including financial services regulation. The NHS is now already ‘harmonised’ with the US corporate-access public health model – and this was always the Conservative Party’s plan.

TTIP will also include ‘Investor State Dispute Settlement’ (ISDS), allowing transnational corporations to sue governments directly for the loss of any future profits resulting from any government action, at any level, such as new legislation. Where ISDS is already included in ‘trade’ deals, it is shown to lead either to big payouts from governments to transnational corporations or to deter governments from legislating – the ‘chill’ effect.

In theory, this means that if a national government had banned a product – a toy, perhaps – on the grounds that it was harmful to health because it contained lead – for example – the manufacturer could then sue that government for infringement of the TTIP. The national government would lose, and our children would come down with lead poisoning.

In practice, we can see a classic example in the current lawsuit taken out by Philip Morris, the antipodean tobacco giant, against the Australian government over the law that enforces plain packaging on all tobacco products there. The law was enacted to discourage people from smoking – an act with proven health risks – but it seems likely that Philip Morris will win because Australia’s government has restricted its ability to make massive profits.

TTIP and the TPP are intended to set global ‘trade’ rules which will eventually become the norms for the multilateral World Trade Organisation, but formulated outside of a structure that allows other countries to jointly resist the corporate-dominated agenda.

As with all bilateral ‘trade’ agreements, TTIP negotiations and agreement texts are secret until the negotiations are completed – ensuring that the public cannot protest against them until it is too late.

Trade agreements are effectively permanent.

Although international ‘trade’ agreements are negotiated government-to-government (by the Trade Commission for EU member states), they are promoted and driven by transnational corporations, which benefit from states being bound by international trade law – these are the the same transnational financial service corporations that caused the global financial crisis.

As part of the TTIP, a framework for the ongoing ‘harmonisation’ of all future regulation is being put in place with the setting up of a Regulatory Co-operation Council. This non-elected Council will be able to override national and EU legislation.

‘Public procurement’ – government spending – is a major target in the international trade agenda.

The TTIP is being rushed through, with the aim of completion by the end of this year (2014).

TTIP will include provision for the movement of temporary workers across borders. This will inevitably mean cheap labour, and the undermining of working conditions and labour rights, especially in a context of degraded regulation. These are the jobs George Osborne wants for you!

The Trade Commission has set up a communications ‘spin’ unit to manage public opinion on the TTIP.

Once TTIP negotiations are completed, the European Parliament will only have the right to say yes or no, to the deal, with no amendment allowed. It will then, as with all EU ‘trade’ agreements, be provisionally implemented before it comes to member state parliaments for ratification.

In the US, the government is seeking ‘Fast Track’ provision or Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) from the Congress. If granted, US representatives will similarly only be allowed to pass the agreement or not, without amendment.

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You may wish to examine the following documents for further evidence:

EU Commission’s (leaked) mandate from EU Council to negotiate TTIP
http://www.s2bnetwork.org/fileadmin/dateien/downloads/EU-TTIP-Mandate-from-bfmtv-June17-2013.pdf

EU Commission’s (leaked) PR strategy “Communicating on TTIP” http://corporateeurope.org/trade/2013/11/leaked-european-commission-pr-strategy-communicating-ttip

EU Commission’s (leaked) concept paper on regulatory coherence
http://corporateeurope.org/sites/default/files/ttip-regulatory-coherence-2-12-2013.pdf

Corporate Europe Observatory’s analysis of the regulatory coherence document http://corporateeurope.org/publications/regulation-none-our-business 

George Monbiot’s articles on TTIP:
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/nov/04/us-trade-deal-full-frontal-assault-on-democracy

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/nov/04/us-trade-deal-full-frontal-assault-on-democracy

Big business control of UK policy-making,including the UK government White Paper on Trade:
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/nov/04/us-trade-deal-full-frontal-assault-on-democracy

These blog articles on TTIP:
http://davidaslindsay.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/seeing-red.html

http://davidaslindsay.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/seeing-red.html

http://kittysjones.wordpress.com/2013/12/06/the-coming-corporatocracy-and-the-death-of-democracy/

This Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/waatt.org

Action against TTIP is already taking place. Petitions are available to be signed:

https://secure.avaaz.org/en/petition/Stop_the_EUUS_free_trade_agreement/?aTAVNbb

http://www.avaaz.org/en/no_champagne_for_monsanto_loc/?bJcgccb&v=32207

http://action.sumofus.org/a/tpp-lawsuits/?akid=3025.1529716.rGZEQN&rd=1&sub=fwd&t=1

But more must be done.

You – that’s right, YOU – need to contact your MP and your MEP and make sure they oppose this evil plan to stamp on your rights.

Then you – that’s right, STILL YOU – need to get involved in setting up and building local and national groups to fight it, while you still can.

DON’T expect someone else to do it for you or you’ll end up a corporate slave.

… which is exactly what George Osborne wants.

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