Latest post on Left Futures

Stop TTIP – to save our NHS

No TTIPActivists from across Europe will descend on major cities at the weekend to protest against the imposition of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (or TTIP) – a “free trade agreement” between the US and the EU.

Rarely does one issue help galvanise continental wide disapproval but in the case of TTIP, people from across the political spectrum in every EU member state are worried about what TTIP will mean for public services and democracy.

And worried they should be.

The agreement – which could be signed off by the end of the year, will see trade and regulatory barriers removed allowing private companies easier access to public services such as our NHS.

Proponents have argued it is about stimulating economic growth, creating jobs and bringing in £12bn of investment.

But since trade barriers are practically non-existent between the EU and US, detractors have pointed out regulatory systems around the environment, food safety and workers’ rights will be severely undermined.

If that was not bad enough, the real agenda of the UK government in promoting TTIP is to open up lucrative public services to contracts and competition from transnational corporations.

Powers granted under the “Investor-Dispute settlement scheme” (IDSS) will allow private companies to sue national governments for loss of profits if public policy decisions are taken after TTIP is introduced.

So in other words – if a future British government decided to kick out private contractors and keep the NHS public, those private companies would be able to sue the government for future profit loss as a result of a public policy change.

Elevating transnational companies to the equivalent legal status of a sovereign nation state has huge implications for democracy which is perhaps why the government has been very coy about the negotiations.

For NHS campaigners, it is VITAL we keep the pressure on to make sure our most prized public service is exempt from TTIP along with the scrapping of the IDSS.

Popular campaigning by War on Want, the World Development movement and trade unions such as Unite, have even led UKIP to realise which way the wind is blowing and also join calls to scrap TTIP.

The momentum is very much with anti-TTIP campaigners and the need for mass action and peaceful civil disobedience to stop TTIP has never been greater.

Together we can keep the fat cat’s claws off our NHS.


  1. jeffrey davies says:

    but its not only the nhs its about companys taking countrys to court because they deem so isnt right another country were companys rule want to do it to you also jeff3

  2. Robert says:

    Can you imagine Miliband TTIP’s is a great idea this way the NHS will be sold and they cannot blame me, OK Mr Blair I will do as you say who wants the NHS …..

  3. William Jones says:

    Though it is Labour’s policy to exclude the NHS from TTIP,I would rather they not sign up at all to it.

    TTIP is the greatest threat to democracy this country has ever faced.Any future Government carrying out the policies on which it was elected could be sued by private Companies if those policies interfere with their profitability.

    TTIP is a line in the sand issue.It has got to be stopped.

  4. Pauline Sharp says:

    Well I will be out this weekend with posters against this. Labour should refrain from this at all costs.

  5. David Pavett says:

    It is so important that it is worth saying again, this is not just about the NHS . It is not even just about public services. It is about a new relationship between big business and government.

    According to UNISON “Veolia is currently using ISDS mechanisms to sue the Egypt government for increasing the minimum wage” (ISDS is the disputes procedure part of TTIP). So it would become possible for private companies to sue governments for anything they deem to be hurting their profits. That would be a massive step up in the power of business over elected governments.

    So, I suggest that too much emphasis on the possible impact on the NHS could be a distraction from the real meaning of the TTIP. It would allow Labour to be let off the hook be putting some weasel words in the agreement that appear to give some protection to public health services while allowing the main force of the proposed new regime to remain intact.

    Labour’s silence over this broader aspect of TTIP is a perfect illustration of the hypocrisy of its rhetoric about having a “one nation economic policy” and “giving power to the many not the few”. This nonsense gets applause at Labour meetings but in the face of Labour support for TTIP (with some mumbling about protecting the NHS) it can clearly be seen to be at best meaningless and, less generously, as underhand promotion of the interests of “the few” (big business) against “the many” (the overwhelming majority who need regulative protection from rapacious private interests).

    1. James Martin says:

      Absolutely David. This is a European-wide issue so far as the attacks on workers and democracy that are contained in it. However, you could argue that it is not something new. Under current EU rules it would not be possible to create a nationalised and socialised welfare state (that contains but is far wider than the NHS). What we achieved under the ’45 Labour government would now be deemed illegal by the EU. The question that then poses is far bigger than simply the TTIP (which must be opposed) but what the EU really is and why it is itself a barrier to progress and socialism that must be removed.

  6. Tim says:

    I agree about TTIP, but it is important to realise that the UK has no ability to veto it’s contents or set red lines. We signed those rights away with the Lisbon Treaty.
    I also agree with James about the issue being much more than TTIP. When in 2009 Andy Burnham tried to limit applications to run NHS services to NHS providers, he had to withdraw the policy, because we would have been successfully sued by private sector providers using EU Competition law. The recent fuss about the Coalition’s NHS reforms is just hogwash- you can’t enact illegal laws, so it had to promote competition. Legislation from a Labour Government will have to comply in just the same way

© 2024 Left Futures | Powered by WordPress | theme originated from PrimePress by Ravi Varma