One Night In Brussels: #NoTTIPTrain

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By Ross Mackay

Last week I set off from Aberdeen for Brussels with my Kilted Comrades Alistair and Martin to protest against TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) and CETA (Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement) – two mega trade deals between the EU, US and Canada. This was to be the 8th round of negotiations on TTIP – the first with the new Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström – focusing on regulations and standards. I was one of a dozen or so Scots amongst a UK contingent of over 140; a really diverse group of activists, young and old, male and female, representing amongst others 38 Degrees, Global Justice Now, War On Want, and Friends Of The Earth.

The train journey from London to Brussels itself was a great networking opportunity. I spoke at length with James, an activist and filmmaker from Manchester, and it was great to hear about how he’d been campaigning where he lived. Conversations like this were taking place the length and breadth of the Eurostar; engaged people sharing ideas.

We arrived in Brussels around lunchtime and kicked off with a walking tour of corporate lobbying criminals by Corporate European Observatory (CEO), an organisation campaigning against corporate lobbying in Brussels. Know your enemy as it were. The crux here was the sheer volume of corporate lobbying in Europe; tens of thousands employed, roughly 80% of lobbyists are employed by corporations, and less than 20% by national governments or NGOs. Telling.

Our second stop was an open discussion forum with civil society activists and organisations from around Europe. This included Green MEP Molly Scott Cato; Cornelia Reetz from the European Citizens Initiative (ECI) against TTIP; Polly Jones from Global Justice Now; and Pia Eberhardt from CEO. Amongst other things that we’d go into in more detail later in the trip, we heard that some local authorities were penning local anti-TTIP declarations; there are strong correlations between rising cross-border trade and rising carbon emissions; recently elected Syriza in Greece will unanimously oppose TTIP; and currently only the Green and Left blocs in the European Parliament oppose the Treaty – far from a majority.

We also talked at length about the potential impact on employment in the EU.  Proponents of TTIP cite job gains as a key advantage of TTIP, but even the EU’s own research Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR), and Tufts University indicates this wouldn’t be the case. It’s more likely TTIP causes job losses, as in the NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) or WTO (World Trade Organisation)/GATT  (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade) examples. Any figures on job creation are modelled on a treaty that isn’t finished and which no-one is allowed to see.

The secrecy around the treaties should be alarming on its own: Molly told us how MEPs have only recently been allowed to look at the text, and this is only after protests from MEPs in the Left and Green blocs.  Indeed, they still have to view the pages in a secure room, sign an Espionage Disclaimer, and they’re not allowed to take any notes or talk about what they’ve read.

Day two started early as we’d heard that TTIP negotiations would be taking place at a nearby hotel.  We took part in a good-natured, peaceful demonstration outside the venue, then we were on our way to the main protest in Schuman Square, outside the European Commission building.  We were joined by Friends Of the Earth’s Europe’s inflatable Trojan Horse.  This was a larger, but again peaceful protest – vibrant, noisy and passionate, well attended by activists from across Europe and lots of media interest.

Our final stop was the European Parliament, to lobby some of our Green and Labour MEPs. First up was German Green Martin Köhler, adviser on International Trade, then UK Green MEPs Keith Taylor, Molly Scott Cato, and Jean Lambert, and Plaid Cymru’s Jill Evans.  This was another really informative forum. We discussed at length the ISDS (Investor State Dispute Settlement) provision of TTIP and CETA; probably the most controversial part of the deal. ISDS could allow corporations like British American Tobacco to sue governments, in secret, supra-national courts, for raising the age of smoking for instance; for pursuing (re)nationalisation of industry or institutions; or for rejecting fossil fuel extraction in favour of greener technologies.  Anything that could slow the development of renewables in Scotland in favour of more fossil fuels should be a red flag. The treaty could open up the NHS to further, locked-in, privatisation, and allow big businesses to sue the government if Scottish or British laws dent their profits. Why should unelected, unrepresentative bodies, hold such power?

Similar mechanisms in other countries have seen Philip Morris Asia challenging Australia’s tobacco plain packaging legislation; Swedish utility company Vattenfall is suing Germany over its nuclear power phase-out; Argentina was sued for billions of dollars by utility companies for freezing energy and water bills; El Salvador is being sued for over £300 million by a Canadian mining company for rejecting a gold mine because of concerns about water pollution; and Canada’s patent laws are being challenged by an American drugs firm.

‘Regulatory Cooperation and Harmonisation’, the theme of the eighth round of talks, was also a key talking point. At present EU standards and regulations are typically higher and tighter than those in the US, with the notable exception of finance. It seems very unlikely that the US and its corporations would agree to meet EU levels; rather the EU is likely to have to weaken its own legislation. Even if there’s not explicit watering down of EU rules, the framework could be such that corporations must comply with either regulation; of course they’ll choose the lower standard. We’ve seen a recent example with the quiet removal of the ban against GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) in the EU; an early concession to US agri-business. Accordingly, the US are also challenging the ‘Precautionary Principle’ which governs much of EU law; that is where the burden of proof is on proponents (in this example, corporations) to demonstrate a product is not damaging.  US Corporations would prefer their home model, ‘Sound Science’, where opponents must prove that a product is detrimental; ideology, not science.

We were running out of time on this trip, but squeezed in a little less than an hour with our Labour MEPs.  After a brief presentation from Jude Kirton-Darling and David Martin, we broke out into smaller regional groups.  Us Scots got fifteen minutes or so to quiz Catherine Stihler and David Martin.  Martin could be a key player on TTIP; he sits on the International Trade Committee, and he’s a spokesperson for the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament. It’s really important people in Scotland inundate him with their concerns. Right now Labour seem broadly supportive of ‘a good TTIP’.  I don’t believe there is such a thing.

There’s actually plenty happening in the Scottish context of TTIP right now.  The European and External Relations Committee at the Scottish Parliament are holding an ongoing inquiry into TTIP. They’ve just taken evidence from Lord Livingston, UK trade minister.  Curiously business leaders admitted during previous evidence gathering that Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise have done no economic analysis on how TTIP might impact the Scottish business community, but like CBI, they’re fully supporting TTIP anyway. Hopefully once the inquiry is complete, we’ll have a full debate in the Scottish Parliament. We need to pursue this. We also have Edinburgh South MP Ian Murray, the Shadow Minister for Trade to engage with.  We should press him to lay out the Labour party’s official position on TTIP with a General Election looming in May.

These Treaties have yet to really pervade the mainstream consciousness, but they should concern everyone. TTIP and CETA represent seismic shifts in power away from people, and the governments they elect, towards corporations.  If TTIP proceeds as it is we’ll cede power over not just trade and tariffs but over global economic policy.  That’s what CETA, and to a greater extent TTIP are really all about: ‘cuts, job losses, money for the bosses’. TTIP threatens workers’ rights, jobs, the environment, public health, public institutions, privacy, openness, accountability, transparency and democracy itself.  TTIP is not really about opening up trade and harmonising tariffs; it’s about a race to the bottom in standards and regulations, and locked-in privatisation; profit before people. TTIP only offers prosperity for the 1%, the wealthy elites. We need to show our opposition now before it’s too late and the deal goes through. We want the negotiations on TTIP to stop.  Any treaty should only be binding with the support of individual parliaments in the countries affected, and the European Parliament.  There’s a growing network across Scotland and the UK against TTIP. Find your local group and get involved.

 

 

Further Reading:

http://corporateeurope.org/

http://trade.ec.europa.eu/doclib/docs/2013/march/tradoc_150737.pdf

http://ase.tufts.edu/gdae/Pubs/wp/14-03CapaldoTTIP_ES.pdf

http://ec.europa.eu/food/food/biotechnology/index_en.htm



Categories: Commentary

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28 replies

  1. Re the Labour Party position on TTIP, it was reported in ‘Private Eye’ on 23rd January that Ian Murray, MP, (Edinburgh South) who is the Labour shadow trade and industry spokesman, has had £45,000 to run his Westminster office for six months from the accountancy firm Price Waterhouse Cooper, who are working on the TTIP deal for their US clients. Ian Murray has been putting forward Labour’s views on TTIP. AsPrivate Eye itself would say, “Shome confusion, surely”

    • John Healey, Labour MP and former shadow health minister, chairs an All Party Parliamentary Committee which is Pro TTIP. The committy receives funding from American and British group of transnational companies and banks.

      The NHS is one public body that is particularly at risk from TTIP particularly now that areas of it have been open to privatisation. Those promoting TTIP and hoping to profit from it particularly with relation to the NHS would not make a distinction between the different NHS organisations in the UK thus the privatisation of the NHS in England puts NHS Scotland at risk from TTIP led privatisation

      To say Labour’s position on TTIP is ambiguous would be an understatement

  2. This is frightening. I am apalled that the EU ban on GMO was lifted on the sly. Wasn’t it Kissinger who said “Control the food source and you control the world”? Looks to me like the Good ole US of A is hell bent on making it happen.
    Good post. Thank you.

  3. TTIP a complicated idea ( with a long winded title) difficult for ordinary people to get a grip on .

    Breaking it down into something simpler – e.g.. secret ‘locked-in privatisation and profit before people ‘ sounds about right to me but hope others can come up with something better.

    Ive heard one criticism of the Yes campaign was that perhaps didn’t always have key ideas put into punchy ‘soundbites’ ( for want of a better word) that would stick in folks minds in the way the No side had with some of their scary ‘mantras’ .

    Many folk Ive asked have never heard of TTIP – this is scary stuff but understandably people may have had their fill of being scared recently and in the run up to a general election there is every chance it will get lost among the other stuff ( tv debates!)

  4. I think the point that JIM SILLARS makes about how we might be better outside the EU in order to be more in control of our situation .Is starting to sound not so far fetched .

    • But to put TTIP in context, if the UK left the European Union and formed a free trade agreement with America – such as TTIP – we would have still experienced a massive resurgence in democratic sovereignty.

      The Left is generally all over the place with TTIP (maybe with JS as an honourable exception) because it seems to have suddenly discovered democracy and accountability on the issue. Whenever the EU was secretive and corporate-influenced in the past, many on the Left feared that it would be Little-Englisher bigotry to oppose this.

  5. We really need to translate all this into ‘common’ speak and get it out there for public consumption. I am a Govan man and consider myself reasonably intelligent with a university education. However, I quickly and easily get lost in the political and business dirge that is dished out willy-nilly. I really have to take the time to relate the story to something I understand. (D’ye know whit it’s like Wullie? It’s like when somebody….etc)

    This TTIP nonsense has all the hallmarks of those kind of decisions that will continue to bulldoze it’s way through all kinds of opposition. That great carbunkle of a Parliament building and the Edinburgh Tram project are perfect examples. We are not reaching all of the people, so I hear what Elaine Fraser says. Unfortunately the daily rags are spot on when it comes to relaying a message to the masses, even if it is a lie!

    Alba!

  6. This is an excellent article and puts some flesh on the bare bones of a difficult and evasive project being steam -rollered through the European Parliament.

    If ever anybody doubted that we as the people are in the ugly maw of International capital’s greedy grip, this proves it. The EU was always a doubtful project for any Scot who wished to be free of England’s economic and cultural domination…why join another ‘Union’? I voted against it in 1975, because I saw it as a Bosses’ club. Old Labour but true. I’ve gone along with the ‘no borders’ philosophy but the reality has been even more destruction of Scottish indigenous farming, fishing and manufacturing.

    This latest secretive move is verging on cataclysmic for ordinary people and a future separate Scottish state.
    How would Scotland cope with billion dollar law suits based on treaties signed by the UK? Imagine trying to argue that we were not party to the TTIP after Independence? It’s been almost impossible to prove, according to UK Gov. experts, that we still exist as a constituent entity within a united kingdom, rather than, as they claim that we ceased to exist in 1707. So imagine the bouroch of explaining that it’s all England’s fault?

    The sooner the SG take this head on and reject it categorically the better. This issue more than any other could swing the most recalcitrant ‘NO’ towards understanding that Scotland’s future must lie in asserting it interests independently of all power blocs, particularly those manipulated by American Capitalist interests.

  7. Received this today from “38 Degrees”:-

    https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/page/s/david-martin-stop-tipp#petition and also see and hear Labour MEP David Martin tell voter’s to “piss off” after they challenge his support for TTIP https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ersUOWKnXzE and also:-

    [1] The Independent: What is TTIP? And six reasons why the answer should scare you:
    http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/what-is-ttip-and-six-reasons-why-the-answer-should-scare-you-9779688.html

    [2] David Martin MEP has a huge say over TTIP – not only does he chair the International Trade Committee in the European Parliament – he’s also the spokesperson for the massive Socialist & Democrat group in Europe. In 2012 he voted to stop the draconian ‘ACTA’ treaty – we can get him off the fence on TTIP.

    [3] Labour in Europe: Labour MEPs secure massive support from European social democrats against private tribunals in trade deals:
    http://www.eurolabour.org.uk/eu-us-canada-ttip-ceta-isds

    4] BBC News: TTIP: Transatlantic trade deal text leaked to BBC:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-31631461

    [5] openDemocracy: It’s more than just the NHS that’s at risk in Scotland from TTIP:
    https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/liz-murray/it%E2%80%99s-more-than-just-nhs-that%E2%80%99s-at-risk-in-scotland-from-ttip

    [6] David Martin was addressing a group of 38 Degrees members and campaigners from other UK organisations who travelled to Brussels to hear what our MEPs are doing to defend our public services from TTIP. You can find out more about the trip and what our MEPs had to say here:

    [7] The First Minister’s tweet in response to our petition last year:

  8. Right so if national governments can make exceptions on public services, does this mean everything mentioned on this post is nonsense? TTIP will not have any impact on privatisation?

    • Nope.

      We would demand that the UK Government makes an ironclad commitment to exempt the NHS at the very least. Much like France has done with their film industry. Ideally all public services. It could still pose a threat where services are currently privatised but we might in the future wish to renationalise, such as railways.

      Even then, there is still lots that concerns me about TTIP, particularly ISDS and Regulatory Cooperation and Harmonisation.

  9. My understanding is that the SNP (and hence the Scottish Government) is in favour of the broad principles of TTIP, provided that public healthcare is excluded.

    I would welcome clarification from anyone who knows better.

  10. Hi Andy Murray,

    Aye, ken fit yer spekin aboot min.

    I’ve actually worked in Brussels before and when I read stuff like this it drives me nuts. There is so much misinformation and manipulation of facts by those who are ignorant or have a deeper ideological agenda. Here we have the far left, Anti-capitalist Nigel Farage!

    First TTIP has nowt to do with independence (SNP are fully in favor as are all the main union parties.)

    Second, the poster, with all due respect has a very limited grasp of the functioning of the EU. I’ll come back to that.

    TTIP – Free trade agreement between EU and USA. like the Euro Free Trade Area or NAFTA (North American Free Trade Area)

    TTIP is

    1) A forum/ agreement to lower tariffs (taxes) and barriers/ legal trade/ protective restrictions on certain goods and services so both EU companies to operate/ invest more easily in each others market. Aim, to encourage business and growth and make money – not hugely controversial as this already happens (Harris Tweed does well in New York I hear and those Texans like a Malt whiskey or two! – equally many in my neck of the woods in the Granite city quite like working for Yank offshore companies.

    2) Criticisms (Valid ish)

    a) This will lead to greater de-regulation and a lowering of both workers and consumer rights.
    b) It will open up EU companies to dodgy American ones and undermine environmental stuff – Like GM foods, chlorine washed Chickens and other dodgy food standards stuff.
    c) It will allow US corporations to bid for contracts in public sector including the NHS, leading to privatisation.
    d) That jobs will leave EU for America.
    d) Foreign companies can undermine Scot/ UK democracy based on the issue below:

    The main contentious point:

    ISDS: Investor State Dispute Settlement – this part of the TTIP is the arbitration body. Like a small claims court where disputes between investors and countries can sorted out.

    Critics say this means overseas companies can call the shots and sue Germany/ Portugal/ UK plc or the Scot government etc if they overrule the TTIP law. Basically Macdonalds could theoretically sue Britain if we decided to nationalise Burgers and fries and boot them out.

    Myths: (excuse the shouty caps lock!)

    a) That Macdonalds can sue Britain and prevent a change in UK law. The only thing companies can do is seek financial recompense…..NOT PREVENT NATIONALISATION/ RE-NATIONALISATION!!!!! NOR UNDERMINE NATIONAL SOVEREIGNTY! if UK wanted to kick any company out they could!

    In the EU all directives are only made legal by NATIONAL SOVEREIGN PARLIAMENTS – e.g) Holyrood and Westminster! THERE IS NO BINDING EU LAW THAT CAN ULTIMATELY TRUMP NATIONAL LAW!

    b) This TTIP is a new development – UK already has over 90 bi lateral similar agreements that included ISDS. IT HAS NEVER ONCE BEEN SUED! including with the Yanks and Canadians.
    c) Jobs: This happens in NAFTA – but there is no comparison between Mexico for example, where wages are significantly lower than the US/ Canada and the EU countries. In fact it will HELP the debt problem in Greece/ Portugal/ Spain as they can attract businesses with lower wage costs (but really US and EU are too similar in wages for this to be too extensive.)
    d) That it will automatically lead to a lowering of regulatory standards – In fact quite possibly the opposite as US companies will be FORCED to operate under EU directives such as the protection on personal data! Aye Fuck you Google and Facebook!

    FACT! All national public Utilities are exempt from EU directive/ trade agreements, hence Nicola Sturgeon saying no way in the NHS… TTIP!

    This is the clearest link on it.

    There are serious talking point, but this kind of ‘fear mongering’ of post helps no one! And no I’m not a Lib dem!

    http://www.libdemvoice.org/ttip-and-the-nhs-separating-fact-from-fiction-44112.html

  11. Myths about the EU!

    ‘…We arrived in Brussels around lunchtime and kicked off with a walking tour of corporate lobbying criminals by Corporate European Observatory (CEO), an organisation campaigning against corporate lobbying in Brussels. Know your enemy as it were. The crux here was the sheer volume of corporate lobbying in Europe; tens of thousands employed, roughly 80% of lobbyists are employed by corporations, and less than 20% by national governments or NGOs. Telling.’ ?

    Where you got these figures from i have no idea? But lets be generous and say they are true? Presumably you forgot about the extensive civil society groups and trade associations coalitions?

    The reason why there are less ‘NGO’ groups is actually a measure of the EU policy/ legislative process’ success!

    The EU is a tiny bureaurocracy, contrary to what Farage says it is small that Westminster yet makes law for nearly 500 million people! Therefore it relies on vested interest groups to form policy…i.e) law is made in consultation with experts and civil society groups funded by the EU – the reason why there are more ‘Business’ corporate lobbyists/ groups is because they are generally on the OUTSIDE shouting in! Civil society groups are less because they have an advantage in policy formation! The EU is now a mature free trade area and as such is primarily concerned with regulating for it’s citizens. (evil things like data protection!!) The legislative process always starts with the highest possible regulation and gets water down after in consultation with businesses, but they do not pull the strings! which is why it is usually more stringent than national regulation! This is why the Tories/ Farage hate it!

    ‘….Right now Labour seem broadly supportive of ‘a good TTIP’. I don’t believe there is such a thing.’

    That’s perhaps because you’re fortunate enough to live in the wealthy ‘Blue Banana!’ with many opportunities. The Greeks needing investment and jobs may see things differently.

    If your back in the Aberdeen you could do worse than scoot off down to RGU at Garthdee and say hello to Prof Justin Greenwood, is pretty much one of the world’s leading experts on ‘civil society representation and lobbying in the EU.

    Or you could go see the boffins in Aberdeen Uni who along with the LSE, Stuggart, Zurich universities ahve done extensive research into transparency of the legislative/ lobby process.

    http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/europpblog/2015/02/18/contrary-to-popular-opinion-business-actors-are-less-successful-than-citizen-groups-at-lobbying-eu-legislators/

    http://www.rgu.ac.uk/dmstaff/greenwood-justin

  12. ‘Here we have, the far left Anti-Capitalist Nigel Farage ‘…..that contradictory and nonsensical insight sums up your happy clappy analysis George. You worked in Brussels George….well bully for you. I suppose that gives you the appropriate knowledge for the blinding analysis provided.

    TTIP is like EFTA? Well the latter is between sovereign states, something Scotland is not. We are a region of one member of the EU that will dragooned into this deal if the predominantly English Westminster gov. assent to it.

    Re. ISDS: ‘The only thing companies can do is seek financial recompense’…..well isn’t that the point? You accuse detractors of this secretive deal of lack of knowledge and yet your own naïve acceptance of the benign influence of American capitalism is worrying.

    Your statement that quite a lot of people in your neck of the woods..Aberdeen.. ‘quite like working for Yank offshore companies’ rang alarm bells. I worked for Yank offshore companies and I deeply resented it. Particularly when I saw Norwegian companies working offshore in Norwegian waters with Norwegian crews extracting oil for the benefit of the Norwegian economy. The Yanks treated and continue to treat Scotland and the Scots as hired help and were not obliged to do otherwise due to UK Gov. policy.

    I suspect that you are typical of the ‘I’m alright Jock’ tendency prevalent in an Aberdeen that has become corrupted and arrogant with ephemeral superficial prosperity due to ‘trickle down’ NeoCon Brit policy.
    The type of arrogant dissociation from reality that allowed a massive ‘NO’ vote in a city that has a significant working class struggling to pay for the dubious privilege of living in the ‘Oil Capital’.

    Keep dreaming George about your Big Business Nirvana. Out here the real people will tell the TTIP Capitalist cartel where to get off!

    • As an Aberdonian, I’m constantly appalled at the stark inequality in the city. The gap between ‘rich’ and ‘poor’ is arguably greater than anywhere else in the UK. Too many Aberdonians are blissfully unaware.

      Oil and gas has brought prosperity to Aberdeen, but only for some; we don’t do anywhere near well enough at sharing the wealth.

      I genuinely don’t know how people working for poverty wages can afford to live in Aberdeen. It’s probably one of the most expensive cities to live in, particularly where property and rental prices are significantly higher than elsewhere.

      I also don’t think enough of the profits of oil and gas extraction have flowed back to the people of Scotland. This is largely due to successive UK Government failures. We should have been saving for rainy days, and investing the profits more wisely.

      In my experience, working conditions in the Norwegian sector are considerably better. Norway’s massive oil fund is also divesting away from fossil fuels: http://qz.com/340302/norway-is-the-first-country-in-the-world-to-divest-from-fossil-fuels/

      TTIP is yet another example of the shift in power away from people towards business.

  13. Hello,

    I wrote this and I’d like to exercise my right to reply, mostly to address some of the comments by ‘George the Best!’. With all due respect, I have a good grasp of the workings of the EU.

    First, I’d like to address the comment above on myths etc onwards, as prior to that there doesn’t seem to be much disagreement.

    a) Even if financial recompense is the only threat, that could be enough to stall or discourage (re)nationalisation; and wouldn’t we all rather see that money spent for the public good? Also, at present the UK Government seems very supportive of TTIP, including the ISDS provision. Again, note some of the values in other examples.

    b) *So far* it’s never been sued. Perhaps because as above in a) the financial implications have led the policy?

    c) See the EU’s own study, and another study by Tufts University, cited above. The impact on jobs and wages is likely to be negative.

    http://trade.ec.europa.eu/doclib/docs/2013/march/tradoc_150737.pdf

    http://ase.tufts.edu/gdae/Pubs/wp/14-03CapaldoTTIP_ES.pdf

    d) The 8th round of negotiations were taking place while I was in Brussels and the topic was specifically ‘regulatory cooperation and harmonisation’. The direction of travel seemed to be towards lowering, rather than raising, and moreover this is redundant anyway if a system where proponents can choose which regulation to comply with is pursued. This was the mood within the Parliament. Do you really think the US is likely to agree to a raft of proposals whereby regulation is increased? The quiet removal of obstructions to GMOs in the EU is unlikely to be the only such example.

    I read the Lib Dem Voice article you linked (again). I don’t trust Cable anymore than I do Cameron or Hunt.

    e) Figures were from our hosts at Corporate Europe Observatory and their methodology seems sound. Indeed, the stats are even more concering when we look at just lobbying on TTIP: 92% corporate lobbying versus 4% public interest. See also h) below for further discussion.

    http://corporateeurope.org/international-trade/2014/07/who-lobbies-most-ttip

    f) I think that’s a naive and overly simplistic characterisation of the EU’s legislative process.

    g) Syriza in Greece have already been quite outspoken about rejecting TTIP; as an aside, Tsipras and Varoufakis were in Brussels the same day as me, meeting in the Commission and Council buildings.

    h) It could be very interesting to discuss with locally based people like Prof Greenwood or David Marshall, thanks for highlighting this. I think it’s probably misleading to insinuate that they might be supportive of TTIP though. Indeed Prof Greenwood has written about the European Citizens’ Initiative, and there is an unofficial ECI against TTIP ongoing. You can sign below. Also, in the article cited that Marshall contributed to, the headline figures seem to be that 65% of citizens groups win, versus 39% of corporate groups. It’s important to note that 65% of 20% lobbying is likely less than 39% of 80%. They also note in their conclusion that ‘Overall, the project of European integration has been a major success for European business. Business actors on average benefitted from the liberalisation of intra-European trade.’

    https://stop-ttip.org/sign/

  14. Wow!

    Erm ok!

    1) This wasn’t a partisan Indy point. I merely pointed out that there is overwhelming support for TTIP among the Scottish political/ business classes, so if Scotland was indy/ EU sovereign member, the likelihood is that would be in agreement. – Also, Scotland within the Uk does have devolved responsibilities for many public utilities (NHS) – Hence Sturgeon (quite rightly) ensuring no TTIP over Scot NHS. I would have thought this a good thing? –

    2) Yes the point is that they can only seek financial recompense and in no way undermine sovereignty/ sue to have the law overturned as is repeatedly and wrongly stated. – UK is an economically advanced State with a GDP of 2 and a half trillion USD. It is not Burundi or Botswana where this kind of deal is a serious democratic/ imperialist issue or threat. Even in the worse case senario, any compensation would be negligible and related to investment return. Name me a company (other than Oil companies) who invest so much into the UK econ that it would be an issue?

    3) Given the reliance of an Indy Scot on Oil sector TTIP would have been way more serious for Scots if there had been a Yes vote.

    4) Hired help. I’ve got mates (from normal backgrounds and state schools) that now work at the very top of the industry in Huston/ Thailand/ California. The Yank companies were instrumental in creating the industry in the first place and continue to invest heavily in R and D/ Northsea Human resources. Northsea service engineers are sought after all over the world? Oil is not national it is a ‘National industry’ ,,,,this doesn’t mean I’m not critical, I am very critical of certain aspects.

    Incidently one of the most predatory Oil companies on the market are the Norwegians, the STATE owned Statoil. They have to invest that Oil fund somewhere, so why not swan around the world drill here there and everywhere and buying off governments and ignoring environmental concerns. So long as the Norwegians are OK Jack.

    5) As mentioned, you’re making the assumption that this is about unfettered American Capitalism. It isn’t it’s about ‘social democratic’ highly regulated, citizen empowered Capitalism – That what the negotiations are over and EU is much more responsive and less ‘neoliberal’ than UK or America. A

    6) Aberdeen die to the Oil at least has a working class. Until recently there has been near 100% employment for the last 30 years. In particular the area has been enriched by the wave of English working class from the old declining industries in Newacastle/ Teeside/ Sunderland (and west of Scotland) etc, who like the Yanks, brought their hard work ethic and technical skills to the collective table. Take a trip up to Hazelhead park and look at the nationalities of those

    7) Since when is TTIP simply about big business. Those it could benefit most are SME’s?

    8) So what’s your solution? To have no formalized framework for trade agreement? To simply have an internal market? Sell all that Whiskey and Salmon to Dundee?

    I wait with baited breath for the considered ‘rational’ response!

    • (sorry got a bit cross at this point)

      Take a trip up to Hazelhead park and look at the nationalities of those who died on Piper Alpha, or the multiple others who have been injured in accidents. They be they Dutch, German, English, American, Scot, Norwegian and their NEW Scots ‘Scots born’ offspring have every right to claim Scotland as their own and vote to retain the UK if accords to their identity in a more profound way – And if the central belt centric Yes campaign failed to reach out and include and persuade then that is THEIR failure. I myself was incidently pro-indy (but not uncritically) but am half ‘White Settler’ Old man was a Geordie born within sight of the Tyne and from a long, long, line of very tough working class Shipbuilders (mither fae Fife). So can it Flossy! Baaaaaaaa!

      • Perhaps it’s because there are has been such a successful integration between the English ‘Settlers’ growing up together in Schools, getting married together, having kids together with North Easterners/ Scots that there was less of the more divisive/ aggressive unpleasantness seen in the central belt? I will of course exempt you from that happy clappy analysis.

  15. And one final thing. When it came to Independence, my marginal swing towards voting in favor was influenced by my English ‘working class’ side and the knowledge of what it meant to similar people(despite the economic nonsense and potential danger of it – we remember Thatcher also! It certainly wasn’t influenced by my ‘conservative, middle class, Tartan Tory Scottish side who were and remain very pro-union.

    • In fact (I will stop after this post as I’m now boring myself!) one of the reasons Yes lost was a fundamental misunderstanding of the ‘non Scot’ vote if you like. Especially the English born. Many who live north of the border/ have moved here do not fit the assumed socio-demographic placed upon them by Scots (who I find tend to know very little of the complexities of England). They are generally not second home buyers, they are not generally from the leafy home counties, they do not automatically associate with the outdated vestiges of Britain but are overwhelmingly from Liverpool, Newcastle, Mancherster, Yorkshire etc.

      Many were initially (and i’m making huge assumptions to speak for others!) very open to the prospect of change and have little feeling for the privately educated/ neoliberalism of Westminster. (often that’s why they moved in the first place!) This was why keeping ‘flag waving and overt Scottishness/ anti English prejudice out of it was vital to the strategists in the SNP. Salmond has been at it for years. But in the heat of battle this was forgotten and time and again ‘identity’ trumped inclusive politics, and time and again the less subtle/ more polemical/ binary minds were given voice. Those without the sophistication to negotiate the sensitive terrain and consistently conflated England with Britain and vice-versa. Allusions to the narrow ‘Hugh Macdairmid’ cultural nationalism (someone at central control in the SNP should have shut those aggressive ‘artists’ up and told folk to keep the Saltires to a minimum. You don’t celebrate victory until the piper has been paid) and the more threatening Anti-English nationalism. This was bound to get people’s backs up and make ‘settlers’ or ‘colonists’ give the two fingered salute.

  16. Interesting’ George’ that you’ve come out as a straw man who now is basing your argument on the Referendum being run on the clichéd ‘Hugh McDiarmid’ and dishonest ‘Anti-English’ narrative, despite the discussion being about TTIP.

    No-one mentioned this until you did. I said that I resented the American domination of the Oil Industry in contrast to the Norwegian national ownership. I said this based on my belief in anti-Imperialism. I am not anti-American. I believe that Scotland is a nation and has been for at least a thousand years. You , in common with many English or ‘half white settlers’ want everybody to know your origins, but show no interest or sympathy in our identity or aspirations as a nation.

    You are entitled to do so. What you are not entitled to do so is to block that move to Independence or to try to sow division….’central belt centric YES Campaign’. What makes the N.E. of England any more worthy of skills than the N.E. of Scotland or West Coast where thousands of men lost their jobs through Thatcherism but were not channelled into the jobs available?

    Remember, I worked in the North Sea and saw many non-Scots being recruited via agencies despite unemployed in large numbers in Aberdeen. A scene that would never have been repeated in Newcastle if there had been oil off it. The disgrace of Scots unemployed not being given priority in those terrible economic times will not be forgotten.

    However, the well off class of oil workers not indigenous to either the N.E. or Scotland does the city of Aberdeen no favours. It has not ‘enriched it’. It has enriched them. It is a divided city. You and your smug pals may want to sneer at the Scottish move forward, giving it ‘two fingers’ or not, but those English ‘settlers’, and they do exist, who wish Scotland to do well ,will support fellow Scots in defying economic unfairness and Capitalist domination of our Health service and Economy. So ‘two fingers’ to you too!

  17. Howay the Toon!

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