When I write a blog which is a two parter, I always write the second part quickly; in the space of a week or so but with this blog I have taken a long time to find the right way to express what I want to say. I lost the plot when the elections brought the Conservatives back into power with a majority because I couldn’t understand why they wanted to scrap the Human Rights Act and which Human Rights were they wanting to scrap? I got so bogged down trying to piece so many things together I couldn’t work on anything. But then I remembered I had written a blog about the “Lifeboat Theory” and speculators and I remembered the old FBI saying “follow the money” and things became a bit clearer.
I’ll start with the Human Rights part of my problem. Sorry if you get brain freeze, I will be brief.
During World War Two the allies adopted what they called “Four Freedoms” as their war aims – freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from fear and freedom from want. The United Nations Charter framed that as faith in fundamental human rights and dignity and worth of the human person and all member states were to promote “universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion”. When the nazi atrocities were fully uncovered the UN realised that the United Nations Charter did not define human rights clearly enough so a Universal Declaration of Human Rights was created. On the 10th December 1948 the General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration. This is the basis of all the other acts and charters, because as time passes the original ideas are refined and defined more clearly. Now, we come to the act I think the government wants to revoke, put a wet towel on your forehead if it is all too much. The Human Rights Act was passed by the UK parliament in 1998. It means that you can defend your rights in the UK courts and that public organisations like the government, police and local councils must treat everyone equally with fairness, dignity and respect. This act protects all of us. Some of the rights include the right to an education, the right to privacy and a family life, protection against slavery and forced labour, the right to a fair trial, freedom of thought, religion and belief, protection of property and free elections. I could not understand why anyone would want to scrap this legislation for a “British Bill of Rights” when Britain had been one of the main instigators of the original UN charter and how could these so called “British Rights” be any different to the ones we already have.
Then I read that the parliamentary committee which scrutinises any major constitutional changes had been scrapped, it has a long name “The Political and Constitutional Reform Committee”. At a time when this committee is most needed – not just because of the human rights challenge but what about the referendum on membership of the EU, more devolution being given to Scotland and Wales, redrawing parliamentary constituency boundaries and this commitment the Tories have to “English votes for English laws”. Everyone of these subjects needs intense, detailed work and people from every party who really know their stuff, to put it mildly, but scrapping it certainly shields the government from real scrutiny and it scares me rigid how easily our system can be picked apart.
Then I was watching “Question Time” and Owen Jones started to talk about TTIP and the host David Dimbleby stopped him. (Sometimes you have to watch the gaps on that programme to realise what is important and what is white noise) Nobody wants to talk about TTIP, even the observers to the discussions aren’t allowed to discuss it, they have all had to sign confidentiality agreements and can just about admit to going to meetings.
The “Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership” is a series of trade negotiations being held in secret between the EU and the USA. It is about reducing the regulatory boundaries to trade for big business (the transnational corporations and cartels) in areas like food safety, environmental protections, banking regulations and the sovereign powers of countries.
One of the main aims of TTIP is to open up Europe’s public health services, education and water services to American companies. So, the NHS is right in the firing line and that means the privatisation of our health service, the health service invented by the Welsh and given to the nation to serve all of us.
The next thing in the firing line is food and environmental safety. The US wants to bring EU standards closer to those of America but American standards are much less strict with 70 percent of all processed foods sold in American supermarkets containing GM whereas the EU allows virtually no GM foods. The US is very lax on the use of pesticides and it uses growth hormones in its beef which is restricted in Europe due to links with cancer. America has repeatedly tried to circumvent European restrictions and failed TTIP opens the door. The same thing will happen to the environment. In Europe a substance has to be proved safe before it can be used. In America any, I repeat, any substance can be used until it is proven unsafe. For example the EU bans 1,200 substances from being used in cosmetics, the USA just 12.
TTIP also covers banking. Now, this is interesting because the City of London is trying to convince America to loosen its very strong financial rules which were implemented to stop another banking meltdown. If American restrictions are removed all the power is back in the hands of the bankers and the casino is open for business again.
In 2012 the European Parliament threw out “Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement” because after a huge public backlash against an attack on an individual’s privacy where internet service providers would be required to monitor our online activity (which in my case would be very boring consisting as it does of ordering shopping, playing “Pengle” and checking “Facebook” and okay, writing subversive blogs). TTIP would override the European Parliament with an easing of data privacy laws and a restriction of public access to pharmaceutical companies clinical trials being part of the agenda.
What is really terrifying is that the EU has already admitted that TTIP will cause unemployment as jobs move to America where labour standards and trade union rights are lower or non existant. The Americans have advised EU members to draw on European support funds to compensate for the expected unemployment despite public assurances about TTIP bringing hundreds of thousands of new jobs to a Europe desperate to get its people into work.
And finally, there is ISDS which sounds like a sexual disease and is just as pernicious. “Investor-State Dispute Settlements” allows companies to sue governments if those governments’ policies cause the company to lose profits.
The introduction of ISDS is one of the main aims of TTIP. What this really means is that unelected transnational corporations can dictate the policies of democratically elected governments. It is happening already because ISDS is in place in other bi-lateral trade agreements so, in Germany a Swedish energy company “Vattenfall” is suing the German government for billions of dollars over its decision to phase out nuclear power stations after the Fukushima disaster. Phasing out the power plants affects “Vattenfalls” profits and shareholders dividends. There are around 500 similar cases being prosecuted at the moment around the world in arbitration tribunals made up of corporate lawyers, basically secret kangaroo courts biased towards big business overriding democratically elected governments laws and regulations and neither the public or politicians can stop this happening.
So, you can see why I was laying awake, unable to sleep, listening to classical music night after night trying to understand why all these things were happening when every one of them was against the good governance and security of the world, let alone Europe or the UK.
Now, these are just my answers; I haven’t unravelled even a quarter of it, there are so many layers. First I will say that hedge funds, cartels and speculators need turmoil, shortages and upheaval on a global level as well as local levels to achieve maximum profits. You can make profit in a stable climate but to make mega bucks, let your cocaine dealer have three holidays a year kinds of profit you need to use insider trading in the middle of war zones (e.g. Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Libya, Ukraine) and areas where populations are in terrible flux and dire need (e.g. all the refugees trying to reach Italy, the Rohingya, the Yazidis, Afghans) because food shortages, water shortages, every kind of arms deal imaginable plus the trade in priceless works of art looted from world heritage sites means huge profits.
There doesn’t have to be such drastic upheaval as the things I have just written but the London Stock Exchange is being affected every day by the upcoming referendum on whether to leave the EU as companies ponder how to structure their business so imagine the field day hedge funds and speculators will have once TTIP is in place and if the population is pushed far enough by Conservative policies there might be a few riots, strikes and maybe even a hunger march as the 30 billion in cuts starts to hit home to make the City even more nervous so there could be some very juicy “puts” being placed by wide boys in City braces even as I write. Whether it is the more “genteel” version of unrest, shortage and insider trading or the terrible war torn destruction kind it all feeds into achieving the “Lifeboat Theory” world view.
Briefly this theory says that there are too many people in the world and the earth is a lifeboat with limited resources, all the rich, important, entitled people are in the boat and all the poor, the flotsam and jetsam of the world are in the water drowning and they should be left to drown because the only people “worth” saving are the rich who will use earth’s resources to keep them in the luxury they are used to. When TTIP comes into force all the multinational companies and richest families must see is profit without any restrictions; no governments, no regulations, no unions just a more easily controlled (because there will be a lot less of them, the “Great Unwashed” after war, famine and pestillence have culled the herd) desperately poor ready to do anything for a crust labour force and no way of stopping the free market and its ultra conservative right wing mad men from dancing us all into the dark.
Usually I have some suggestions about how to tackle the issues that I have written about but right now I don’t. My friend may be right when she says work houses will be coming back there’s no law to stop them.