Chris Ramsey: Is the SNP getting ready to toe the line on TTIP?

18/08/2015
CommonWeal

Chris Ramsey outlines his concerns about the SNP and TTIP

VEILED in secrecy, there’s a deal currently being negotiated between the USA and the EU that will threaten our way of life, weaken our laws and put the future of public services in jeopardy.

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) could make privatisation of the Royal Mail, NHS and National Rail irreversible. The UK would surrender judicial independence and control to multinational corporations.

The Investor State Dispute Settlement component (ISDS) of the TTIP deal would give corporations the power to sue the UK if the multinationals don’t like our policies or changes to the law which affect businesses’ profits – like raising the minimum wage.

In the USA, McDonalds is currently taking the city of Seattle to court, claiming that the new minimum wage of $15 per hour is damaging its profits.

The ISDS element of the TTIP deal would give corporations the power to sue the UK if the multinationals don’t like our policies or changes to the law which affect businesses’ profits – like raising the minimum wage.

Albeit under a different trade deal, the Australian Government is being sued by Philip Morris over proposed legislation on plain packaging for tobacco products. This has so far cost Australian citizens over PS23m in legal fees.

Essentially, what is being proposed epitomises the neo-liberal narrative. Private institutions, like the banks, are too big to fail, while public services and ‘rogue nations’ like Greece are not.

Economic monopoly power gets gifted state and legal statutes to eliminate any risk. Public money can be used to bail out big corporations that fall into difficulties, but austerity measures mean the poor and vulnerable shoulder the burden.

The SNP holds its annual conference between 15-17 October at the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre. A resolution committing the party to accepting TTIP so long as public services are protected is on the agenda.

The right for corporations to sue governments in secret courts for seeking to enshrine human rights or protect the environment could become SNP policy.

The right for corporations to sue governments in secret courts for seeking to enshrine human rights or protect the environment could become SNP policy.

In the last few weeks the UK Government has launched a significant attack on renewable energy. It has withdrawn support for onshore wind and solar power and is scrapping schemes which could have helped people reduce their home energy bills.

Now it wants to dismantle a scheme designed to help community-owned energy projects.

Whether the Scottish Government could use TTIP to sue the UK Government for withdrawing windfarm subsidies a year earlier than expected is a matter of conjecture, but imagine how much more havoc the litigious Donald Trump could create with ISDS legislation as par for the course.

Picture courtesy of Gage Skidmore