US-EU deal is next stage of neoliberalism, but not discussed in Parliament

It says a lot about democratic accountability that the most profound and far-reaching issues are not discussed in Parliament. It was true of the decision in the UK to build the first atomic bomb, it was true of the Multilateral Agreement on Investment in the 2000s which aimed to give the world’s rich countries the right to draft universal investment laws which would guarantee corporations unconditional rights to conduct financial transactions which could not be challenged by governments or citizens.

And it is true now of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) which US and EU trade negotiators are currently trying to bring to fruition. It too, if carried through, will allow international companies to hold governments to account, rather than the other way round, if they believe that governments are introducing environmental, social or labour standards which unreasonably impinge on their commercial prospects.

Of course in selling the idea to the (gullible) public, not a word is said about this. Instead we are told that it will increase transatlantic economic growth by 1-2% a year and that that will increase incomes by several hundred pounds a year. What is not mentioned, even if you believe the salesman’s patter about the benefits, is that the increased incomes will accrue very largely to the holders of capital, not to ordinary folk to any noticeable degree.

But the real impact is felt on democracy. There is a touching faith that everyone in the West accepts that democracy is the foundation stone of our society and culture and the immoveable basis of our rights for justice and redress. But the capital holders, the corporate class, have never accepted this – and nor really have the ideological wing of the Tory party.

They have never accepted the social democracy of the Attlee government after the second world war, and inspired by market ideologues like Hayek and by political ideologues like Thatcher they sought relentlessly to overturn the Keynesian settlement. The hyper-inflation of the 1970s caused by the quadrupling of oil prices gave them their chance. It ushered in the monetarist deflationary approach of the Callaghan government which then paved the way for full-blown Thatcherite neoliberal capitalism in the 1980s.

It was consolidated by the Blairite betrayal which harnessed the Labour party to the same market fundamentalist principles. Now the Cameron government of aggressive right-wing radicalism is taking the supremacy of the market and of capital yet further by its deliberate espousal of austerity, not to reduce the budget deficit (it patently isn’t doing so), but to redistribute income, wealth and power yet further towards the corporate class. Their eagerness for the US-EU trade pact is another dimension of this same drive, even more powerfully deployed at the international level.

  1. Privatisation of Political Space. Endlessly ongoing. Soon we’ll only be able to vote on whether we have lollipop ladies or not. Maybe that should be ‘Pirate-isation’.

  2. This phrase ‘neo-liberalism’ is begining to annoy me; its a term that academics use and is straight out of the Marxist handbooks. The ordinary punter on the Clapham BorisMaster hasn’t a clue what it means, and neither do I.
    I heard it tossed around a lot at Saturdays ‘Austerity’ Conference. The fact is its not Nations that rule the world and set the Agenda; its the Big Global Corporations; they’re everywhere. They’ve already bought up 75% of Britain, and as I’ve said, they’ve got their own Agenda. They’re even sending Space Rockets to Mars and beyond, and more; they’re controlling the price of copper and gas and tea. Shirley is right: we’ll have a choice all right, but it’ll only be FairTrade Tea or UnfairTrade Tea.

  3. Does anyone think the US-EU Trade and Investment Partnership won’t be carried through to the satisfaction the corporations most likely to benefit?

    I haven’t heard Labour make any noise about this (apart from Michael) – does anyone know if Labour has a policy, pro or anti? Can’t find anything on the web referring to Labour’s position.

    To me this seems to indicate the oneness of the Tory/LibDem government and the PLP. They’re all strongly pro-EU and seem to want to keep any potential kerfuffle to a minimum by avoiding drawing attention to it. I suppose once the agreement is settled policy will be determined elsewhere (we’ll never quite know where) and when extensive privatisation of the NHS is driven through – Labour MPs will say “Sorry, can’t help, it’s nothing to do with us, our hands are tied.” But then PLP has favoured privatisation since Blair assumed office, particularly of the NHS, so perhaps this explains their apparent silence.

    Michael comments on the gullibility of the public – well to me it seems LP members are among the most gullible, sadly:

    http://www.sochealth.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/The-market.jpg