Our candidates have received nearly 500 emails via 38 Degrees asking our attitude towards the ‘Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership’ (TTIP). Here’s the reply we are in the process of sending to them:
For years the World Trade Organisation has been trying to change the rules of global trade in the interests of global investors. The US in particular wants to ease the out-sourcing and off-shoring of jobs, permitting employers to seek the lowest wages and weakest government oversight protections around the world; and to incorporate patent and intellectual ownership rules that will further restrict access to medicines for millions and could be expanded to include even surgical procedures and not just drug treatments.
Overall, it is a bid to implement a globalisation policy of trade harmony at the lowest common denominator that will further the interests of global investors by relaxing various standards to weaker levels of consumer and public protection. It would represent a further reduction in the ‘sovereignty’ of national governments and their already weak power to resist the dictates of the world market. But these negotiations have not yet reached a conclusion because some countries do not want to open their doors too much to multinational corporations.
At the same time the EU and the US are negotiating a ‘Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership’. One of the points under discussion is a mechanism known as ‘Investor-State Dispute Settlement’ (ISDS), which would give corporations the right to challenge a country’s laws. Clearly, this is something more than a mere ‘free-trade’ deal. Even if a new reform or policy applies equally to domestic and foreign investors, ISDS proposes to allow corporations to receive compensation for the absence of a ‘predictable regulatory environment.’
Another proposal in TTIP is for ‘regulatory cooperation’ which would give big business lobby groups wide opportunities to influence decision-making, outside the normal democratic decision-making processes on both sides of the Atlantic. The clear intention is to allow business to in effect ‘co-write’ international regulations, as already happens at national level.
The socialist attitude is that, at the end of it all, the arguments within the WTO which have so far prevented agreement are a dispute between vying capitalist factions, free-trader versus protectionist, foreign versus native capitalist – competitors, fighting to defend or create conditions that offer them the best return. Even so, among the casualties are working people the world over, who will end up as collateral damage, more powerless and more vulnerable than ever in the face of global capitalism. In short, this is a problem of capitalism from which the working people of the world can never emerge as winners.
The way-out for them is not the restoration of 'national sovereignty' but the establishment of a world society, without frontiers, where the industrial and natural resources of the Earth will have become the common heritage of all humanity and used to produce what people need instead of for the profit of those who own the world. In short, global socialism. Then, they will no longer be the casualties of trade agreements – or disputes – between different capitalist states.
Our candidate for Swansea West answered:
"The short answer to your question is capitalism only serves the interests of a wealthy global minority. The long answer is that the Socialist Party of Great Britain is an anti-capitalist party and are completely opposed to the system of wage slavery in all its manifestations, including trading agreements, cartels, monopolies, buying and selling, etc. A brief description on where we stand on TTIP is attached and is taken from our monthly journal the Socialist Standard. However, if you are inclined to question myself personally, on the party case, you have an opportunity to address your concerns at two debates the Swansea Branch are holding with the Green Party and UKIP at 7.30pm on the 9th of March and the 14th April respectively. The venue for both of these debates is the Unitarian Church, High Street, Swansea.
Yours For Positive Socialist Activity
Our candidate in Folkestone & Hythe, Andy Thomas, responded email as follows:
“Whether or not the TTIP is adopted, life for the majority of the world’s population will continue to worsen so long as capitalism provides the global framework under which we live. Much of the NHS is already run for profit by private companies (the Carer network for example), and it matters little whether these companies are based in the UK or in the US. Those parts of the NHS which are not directly privatised are still restricted in what they can deliver because they are funded by taxes. The sources of those taxes are private companies, which restrict what they pay their workers (or to the State) in order to maximise profits. So whether privatised by US-based companies or ‘nationalised’, the NHS will continue to suffer endemic crisis. Similar comments apply to all public services.
The Socialist Party of Great Britain stands for the replacement of a global system based on private ownership and corporate profit by one of collective and democratic ownership of the means of producing and distributing wealth. We will freely co-operate to produce what we need and access will be based solely on our self-defined needs. In terms of the NHS that means people will become doctors and nurses because that work is fulfilling in its own right, and access will be based solely on medical need. In a society without the limitations of money and profit there is no limit to what the human race can achieve in all fields, including medicine.
This revolution in human affairs will only be realised if the majority of the people in the world actively want it. So this must be realised democratically, through the ballot box. By voting for the SPGB in the forthcoming election you take the first step to bringing that about.”
Whilst our candidate in Brighton Pavilion, Howard Pilott, replied to another email with contrasting brevity:
“ We in the SPGB propose scrapping capitalism, which should hopefully allay your fears.”