Why You Should Be Worried About TTIP

normal_ttip-eu_usa_santa_claude_eThe Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is a EU/USA treaty being negotiated in secret on our behalf. I believe it is one of the most serious threats we have ever faced.  Yet it’s a threat that many people haven’t even heard of.

This proposed agreement has implications on a national and global level, particularly the Investor-State Dispute Settlements clause which allows corporations and private companies to take legal action against governments if they pass laws that are regarded as restricting their ability to make profits.

This strikes directly at the heart of our democracy, whilst effectively handing over sovereignty of all signature countries to the whim Amongst other things, TTIP also has the potential to force this country to accept genetically modified organisms into our food supply.

It loosens banking regulations (as the more stringent US banking laws could be subject to the lighter laws in the UK) and it could threaten jobs as more companies will be able to base their operations in the USA where labour law, employee protection and health and safety are less strictly applied.

TTIP could also have very serious implication for the NHS in terms of the penetration of public services by private companies.  Indeed TTIP could very easily be used to prevent any future moves to stop the creeping privatisation of the NHS as this may be regarded as restrictive by corporations wanting a piece of the action.

Whilst the Conservatives, Labour and the Libdems have all stated an ambition to ensure the NHS is excluded from TTIP, we have seen no guarantees on this from any quarter.

Moreover the extremely secretive nature of the treaty and the way it is being negotiated on our behalf behind firmly closed doors, leads me to distrust the ability or even the will of some of our representatives to ensure such exclusions will be applied.

The fact that both Labour and the Conservatives have self evidently displayed an ambition to see large parts of the health service and social care hived off to private companies, amid a culture of marketisation and capitulation to private providers, leaves me with very little confidence in a positive outcome for our cherished NHS.

The Green Party is firmly committed to blocking TTIP where we are able to, and our MEPs have already expressed deep concern about what appears to be an unavoidable quiescence to this agreement.

You might like to read this article by Molly Scott Cato MEP, who was recently allowed into the inner sanctum where the treaty is being drafted. Although as you will see she was sworn to secrecy and was subject to extreme measures to prevent her from recording and/or reporting what she saw.   This alone sounds some very loud alarm bells with me!

If I were to be elected, I would most fervently resist the inclusion of the UK within the TTIP treaty and I would also demand that the secret negotiations now being held in Brussels should be openly and frankly reported.

Honest and open government is our only guarantee that those trusted to look after our interests do so diligently and effectively.


My Comments on The Virgin Galactic Disaster on The World Service

VirginHere’s a a link to a programme I was involved in for the World Service a few weeks ago, discussing the aftermath of the crash of the Virgin Galactic space craft in the Mojave Desert.  This crash came in the wake of a similar event with an ESA rocket that crashed shortly after lift off in Virginia.

Sadly the Virgin crash cost the life of one of the pilots of the craft, but it raises issues around the viability of space tourism, not least because of the environmental impact of such catastrophic events.  Moreover the question remains as to the point of these sub-orbital flights and if they will ever amount anything other than a quick joy ride on a very expensive roller-coaster for those that can afford the $250,000 ticket price.

There’s much talk during the programme about the cultural impact of these flights and how individuals are inspired by their trips.  I don’t really buy that personally, and think that there’s a lot more that can be done to inspire scientific exploration on the face of this planet if you have half a billion dollars to throw around.

If nothing else Richard Branson could use that money to keep his long forgotten promise to make Virgin Atlantic the greenest airline on the planet.  If that isn’t already an oxymoron.