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29 October 2015

How TTIP threatens to trade away Scotland's democratic powers – and how we’re determined to stop it

Little point in Scotland winning more powers from Westminster only to let TTIP take them away and hand them to big business argues Liz Murray

Head of Scottish campaigns, Global Justice Now

Opposition to TTIP in Scotland is growing, almost daily it seems. Local groups opposing TTIP are springing up across the country.  At the last count there were groups in Aberdeen, St Andrews, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness, Orkney and the Highlands.  But by the time you read this, there may well be more. And this spring, a broad-based, nation-wide 'Scotland Against TTIP' coalition was set up to work in tandem with local activists. At its launch, the coalition was made up of seven trade union bodies, environment and food organisations, and social justice and anti-austerity campaigners. The coalition has grown over the last few months and now has fourteen members, as more and more people realise that Scotland's democratic powers could be traded away if TTIP is passed.

Working together has to be the key to beating this toxic trade deal (and others like it).  So while we, as a member of the Scotland Against TTIP coalition, were able to get an anti-TTIP motion put down in the UK parliament, local activists then injected the campaign with their energy and lobbied their own Members of Parliament (MPs) to sign up to it; with the result that all 56 Scottish National Party (SNP) MPs and the one and only Scottish Labour MP have all supported the motion. The coalition is now following that up with fringe meetings at party conferences and pressure on the manifesto writers preparing for the Scottish Parliament elections next May. The local TTIP activists will likely then get to work on getting the candidates in that election to sign a pledge vowing to oppose TTIP if they get elected.

TTIP-free zones

And across Scotland, local authorities are starting to declare themselves TTIP-free zones. Thanks to Green councillors getting anti-TTIP motions passed in Glasgow and Edinburgh councils, these two cities are both now added to the 1000 other council areas around the world that have done the same thing. And more councils in Scotland are likely to go the same way – with anti-TTIP motions being tabled in Dundee and Fife in the next couple of months.

So between us we’re increasing the pressure on politicians, ensuring that they hear about the opposition to TTIP at every turn. This is vital, as the only party currently entirely opposed to TTIP is the Green Party

The SNP has gradually become more concerned about TTIP as time has gone on and they say that they wouldn’t currently vote for TTIP as it stands, but stop short of saying that they’d never vote for it. Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon recently wrote to Prime Minister David Cameron calling on him to ensure that the National Health Service is fully exempted from TTIP and if that is not the case then for the UK government to use its veto at the European Council to prevent TTIP progressing. This is a welcome move from the Scottish Government, but we’re not holding our breath on a positive reply coming back from Westminster!

Scottish Labour are under pressure from the trade unions to come out and oppose TTIP entirely.  The party conference is at the end of October, so we wait with baited breath for news on that.

Ordinary Scots are making the difference

The huge efforts of local campaigners and organisations alike are making a difference. Tens of thousands of ordinary Scots have learned about TTIP in the last year – and with a population politically energised by the independence referendum, many have been concerned enough by what they’ve heard to take action. 

It’s clear that TTIP threatens Scottish democracy. From the NHS and the provision of education, to the protection of Scotland's environment and public health, TTIP could mean transnational corporations have more and more power over Scottish life. There seems little point in Scotland winning more powers from Westminster only to let TTIP take them away and hand them to big business.

Under TTIP, US oil and gas companies might, for example, use the corporate courts to sue the Scottish government if it changed the current moratorium on fracking to a ban, or if it set tighter regulations on climate change emissions. Or waste companies might use it if the Scottish government passed new legislation on waste reduction. Or big tobacco might use it if further smoking bans or tighter tobacco control regulations were brought in.

And of course there is the much discussed risk to Scotland's treasured public services, such as the NHS and Scottish Water. Where there is privatisation in any part of Scotland’s public services, then TTIP could mean contracts being opened up to US companies.

The UK government, in its support for TTIP, is negotiating away Scotland's power to protect its natural heritage, its public services, the health of its people and more. But as we are increasingly seeing, the people of Scotland are not ready to stand by and let them do it.

IN PROFILE: Dundee and Angus Green Party TTIP Actions

by Pauline Hinchion, Scottish Greens campaigner

From the outset of anti-TTIP feeling and action in Dundee, the DGP has been at the centre of bringing an awareness and knowledge of TTIP and why it needs to be opposed to people in Dundee and Angus. 

Using the SGP anti-TTIP leaflet, DGP organised a TTIP stall in November 2014 on the back of the then new Commission President Juncker’s speech on the role of ISDS in TTIP in October 2014.  This was quickly followed by a public meeting in Angus and a staff in Montrose, Angus.

In February 2015 at a STOP TTIP meeting convened by Global Justice Now, DGP members agreed with other interested groups and people to start a STOP TTIP DUNDEE group and the DGP have continued to protest, raise awareness of and raise signatures against TTIP. 

https://www.facebook.com/STOP-TTIP-Dundee-860130794057969/timeline/

STOP TTIP DUNDEE meet every month and organise stalls and demonstrations against TTIP in addition to providing speakers at local rallies. 

Our most recent STOP TTIP DUNDEE event was held in the city centre at the beginning of October 2015 and featured some famous characters from the Beano and Dandy comics.  We were pleasantly surprised at the level of awareness of TTIP and the number of people who were genuinely interested in the issues. 

Recently the DGP members leafleted each night’s audience attending the play ‘’The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil”, the response was phenomenal and was a useful way of linking TTIP with the history of Scotland’s clearances and oil industry.

Such is the strength of the STOP TTIP DUNDEE campaign, that Dundee will be the only Scottish date on the Global Justice Now ‘Stop Transatlantic Trade Deals’ UK roadshow on Sunday 1st November 2015 at 3.00pm. As usual DGP members are involved in the organisation and promotion of this event.

The Scottish Green Party, TTIP campaign information here.
Make the UK a TTIP-free zone, information here and more from Trade Justice on TTIP available at www.globaljustice.org.uk/trade

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