Opening Pandora’s Box, Austerity and Jeremy Corbyn

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Opening Pandora’s Box. Austerity and Jeremy Corbyn

1. The Challenge

As a child I learned of honestly, fairness and justice, and I learned about socialism. These philosophies go hand-in-hand. But in my lifetime, The Labour Party I loved has become fearful of the truth, and has lost the trust of the electorate. Now, we are facing a leadership election, when for the first time in decades there is a real opportunity to change.

Recently, Syriza MP Costas Lapavitsas said Jeremy Corbyn, standing as a candidate for Labour leadership was “exactly what Britain could do with” and he could inject common sense and values into the Labour Party.  So it was reported in the Telegraph, where Syriza is referred to as “hard-left”, when in fact it is a moderate, democratic party, and rose to power by democratic means because the Greek electorate have been damaged by austerity.

Recent elections have not achieved the great change as in 1945 because of the establishment’s stranglehold. There are immense riches for some and yet the state’s responsibility to its ordinary citizens has been eroded, and today the welfare state, rather than an  insurance against destitution is now being sold as a means of scrounging from others.

Solidarity, socialism, and neighbourliness,  are words from the past which we are told was some far-left extremism and  has no place in the future.  That fear of being destitute, of being alone and helpless is a direct result of neoliberalism.  Austerity, created by the IMF and described in the Zombie Economy was hatched seventy years ago in New Hampshire, has been pursued around the world ever since.

They have overseen the transfer of power from the State to the private institutions and corporations.

Ordinary people in the UK, as around the world know that austerity has failed,  yet increasingly they feel that their votes will achieve nothing. What do they say to politicians who ask for their votes on the doorstep?

“There is no point in voting; they’re all the same.”

“They’re all in it for themselves.”

“They are all liars!”

“They only want to know at election time.”

“I like Labour, but we can’t trust you with the Economy.

“Too many immigrants taking our jobs.”

“Labour overspent.”

“I’m not interested in Politics.”

That may be a fair assessment of the situation from their view but I am filled with despair. The Labour Party’s recent abstentions on the Welfare Bill resulted in it being carried. Harriet Harman made a grave mistake, and the Labour Party let down the people, itself, and all those party members and voters who thought they were voting against the Tories in May.  Why is this happening? Nothing will change until Austerity is challenged and the truth is out. No one is challenging it because of fear and disinformation.

2. 1983 Manifesto was too left wing

Labour’s 1983 Manifesto was not extremely Left Wing. Some examples include:

  •  In 1983 Labour promised to invest in homes, transport, new technologies and industry.
  • It promised to work for equality, for women – equal pay, maternity pay and assistance for child care
  • Planned for Investment in Education, and Provision for under-fives
  • It proposed to improve the environment, to tackle pollution and to conserve energy.
  • It planned initiatives to promote peace and development around the world, and to cancel Trident and not to co-operate with Cruise Missile deployment,
  • Labour would have expanded services for social care and to reverse Tory cuts in the maternity grant.
  • Begin a Strategy to Eliminate Low Pay.
  • Open immediate negotiations with our EEC partners, and introduce the necessary legislation, to prepare for Britain’s withdrawal from the EEC, to be completed well within the lifetime of the Labour government.
  • Rebuild British industry , and up these steps with a new National Investment Bank, new industrial powers, and a new Department for Economic and Industrial Planning.

Expanding on the details here show refreshing, positive policies describing a world I wished we could have seen.  It was not this manifesto that led to Labour’s defeat in 1983. They called it the greatest suicide note in political history. It looks more like a survival note for a thriving society. Neil Clark in the Guardian, describes how that defeat determined how the resistance to neoliberalism crumbled.

“That moment in 1983 was the last great opportunity to derail the neoliberal bandwagon before it did lasting damage to the UK’s economic and social fabric. Labour’s emergency programme of action would have halted the de-industrialisation of Britain and removed the spectre of mass unemployment from the land. The re-imposition of exchange controls would have put a brake on the growing power of international finance; thanks to Thatcher’s deregulatory measures – money power was soon to rule the roost.”


The yawning wealth gap, already starting to develop in 1983, would have been reversed by Labour’s staunchly progressive tax policies.

3. Popularity of Tory Government in 1982

In 1981 and 1982, the Tory cuts were very unpopular, and Michael Foot’s Labour Party was well ahead of the Tories in 1982. But Margaret Thatcher’s gamble to send a task force to the Falklands ignited a false patriotism where flag-waving citizens cheered the task force on its way. Thatcher’s gamble paid off. In times of austerity, it was like some kind of hysterical party.  It was a close thing, but without victory in the Falklands it is unlikely she would have remained in power.

‘The nation drank deep of an experience it had not enjoyed since 1945: a clear military triumph. The victory dragged Thatcher’s leadership from the brink of collapse. She won global celebrity, in both the United States and the Soviet Union, and 10 points were added to her poll rating. She was at last in the lead over Labour. The emergent Social Democrats never recovered. Thatcher wrapped herself in the flag, denouncing all sceptics and crudely boasting the renaissance of the British people as a world power against dictatorship.’

4. The Social Democratic Party, and The Alliance WITH LIBERALS

In 1983, the British electoral system was very much a two-party affair, and as we have seen recently, in a first-past-the-post electoral system, a divided opposition inevitably leads to defeat. In 1981, four former Labour cabinet ministers Bill Rogers, Shirley Williams, David Owen and Roy Jenkins had crossed the floor and formed the SDP. In 1983, ten days before the General Election, an SDP-Liberal Alliance was formed. Their agreement not to oppose seats resulted in Thatcher’s biggest ever electoral landslide. The lesson of the need for Party  unity, I hope was learned. In this betrayal, we have all paid dearly.

The Falklands war and the SDP-Alliance splitting the vote,  swung it for Mrs Thatcher not the Labour manifesto whatever the press and Blairites say. I remember it as clear as it was day, what a shock it was. The press was wicked. That is what started fear of the truth.

As we know the victors write the history.  The massive privatisation policies of the Thatcher years, which continued under Blairism, is still continuing today, though we have little left to sell off, would have been averted.

Instead, what resulted was that Thatcher’s parasitic, out-of-control capitalism grew exponentially. Manufacturing declined further, unemployment soared, employment rights eroded, and what we have been left with is a growing inequality where fear of being trampled on has led to social divisions and isolationism.

5. Pandora’s Box – the Trap of Fear

Pandora’s Box of Fear needs to be wrenched open, and truth revealed, and spoken. To be fearful to expose the evils and injustice in the world is to perpetuate it. In the reality, it is the Tories who will fear the most. Their project fear is Corbyn. They do not fear his opponents, but make no mistake, they want to nip our claim to a more equal economy “in the bud“.

Listen to Jeremy Corbyn, and  you will hear he talks sensible, pragmatic, socially desirable policies which are supported by the electorate. His approach is courageous and honest, as shown in his decision to join 47 other Labour MPs, and the SNP and Liberal Democrats to oppose the Welfare Bill.  As the only candidate to oppose austerity, and the neoliberal Tory agenda, he shows he has real Labour values. He is not afraid to speak the truth. We have heard enough lies, and felt enough fear. We must be proud of our achievements in government, and recognise where we have made mistakes – and why.

The myth of the inevitability of  neoliberalism must be countered, and the politicians need to speak honestly. We need to be Straight Talking Labour. As Tony Benn said  “Say what you mean and mean what you say.”

6. Exposing the Truth, the Emperor’s New Clothes

The fable of the Emperor’s new clothes is well-known. Everyone could see the emperor was naked , but too fearful to challenge so they admired his new clothes. Everyone knows that the very, very rich, are the real scroungers  – representing a hidden welfare state while millions depend on food banks in this country alone. If everyone knows this, then why is our Labour Party still supporting Tory cuts and austerity? It is time to call the Emperor’s bluff.

From our defeat was borne fear of telling the truth. But truth is always the way. Remember the lines of Tony Benn? “Say what you mean and mean what you say!” Wise words. Lies always get caught out – Blair – Cameron over Syria. If there is one thing which puts people of voting it is lies. Look how the non voting numbers rose. But Jeremy speaks honestly. He speaks the truth. The prospect of Jeremy Corbyn leading my party warms my heart at last. I cannot have that confidence in Burnham, Cooper or Kendall. I used to admire Harriet Harman. She has disgraced the party in not opposing the Welfare Bill, and I admire every MP who voted against the welfare cuts. She let the party and the other candidates down, but they let themselves down then by not having the courage to oppose and lead.

Jeremy Corbyn has my vote, and my best wishes and hopes.

REFERENCES and FURTHER READING:

They Knew – They Lied: ExxonMobil and Climate Change

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They Knew, They Lied: ExxonMobil and Climate Change

By Daniel Ross, Truthout | Report

Between 1956 and 1964, Bell Laboratories produced a number of television specials titled “The Bell Laboratories Science Series.” The topics ranged from an examination of the Sun, to human blood, deep space, the mind, the nature of time and life itself. The programs were produced by Frank Capra, whose films include It’s a Wonderful Life and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, so the production value of the series was notably superior. Even 30 years later, schools all across the US were still showing these Bell Labs films to students.

In 1958, a chapter in this series titled “The Unchained Goddess” was broadcast. The topic was the weather, and it starred Richard Carlson and a USC professor named Dr. Frank C. Baxter. At one point in the program, Carlson asked Dr. Baxter, “What would happen if we could change the course of the Gulf Stream, or the other great ocean currents, or warm up Hudson Bay with atomic furnaces?” The “atomic furnaces” bit is a quaint throwback to the atom-crazy 1950s, but the response given by Dr. Baxter is what makes this particular film notable.

“Extremely dangerous questions,” replied Dr. Baxter, “because with our present knowledge we have no idea what would happen. Even now, Man may be unwittingly changing the world’s climate through the waste products of his civilization. Due to our release, through factories and automobiles every year, of more than 6 billion tons of carbon dioxide – which helps air absorb heat from the Sun – our atmosphere seems to be getting warmer. It’s been calculated that a few degrees rise in the Earth’s temperature would melt the polar ice caps, and if this happens, an inland sea would fill a good portion of the Mississippi Valley. Tourists in glass-bottomed boats would be viewing the drowned towers of Miami through 150 feet of tropical water.”

Again, this was broadcast in 1958. The fact that climate concerns were being voiced almost 60 years ago is likely surprising to many, but the history and beginnings of the environmental movement in the US date even earlier. Ten years before, in 1948, the first piece of federal legislation to regulate water quality – the Federal Water Pollution Control Act – was passed. President Eisenhower spoke to the issue of air pollution, which had killed nearly 300 people in New York City two years earlier, in his 1955 State of the Union Address. That same year, the Air Pollution Control Act was passed.

In 1962, Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring was published, a watershed event many consider to be the official beginning of the environmental movement. In 1963, the Clean Air Act was passed. In 1968, Paul Ehrlich’s The Population Bomb was published, which argued that the world’s pollution problems were due to overpopulation. In 1970, President Nixon established the Environmental Protection Agency, and the first Earth Day protest – an event that included some 20 million people nationwide, then the largest protest in US history – was held.

In 1974, the first detailed scientific research connecting chlorofluorocarbons to the depletion of the ozone layer was released, and was augmented two years later. In 1979, President Carter pledged to embark upon a program to ensure that the US would get 20 percent of its energy from renewable resources by 2000. That same year, he installed solar panels on the White House, which President Reagan removed after he took office. Reagan, in his first year, slashed the EPA’s budget by more than half. In 1988, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was established.

The struggle to identify, diagnose and deal with climate change has been ongoing for almost seventy years, involving presidents and scientists and millions of ordinary citizens who recognized the dangers inherent in a climate affected by our actions … which is what makes this report so thoroughly maddening.

ExxonMobil, it seems, was fully aware of the existence and dangers of global climate change as early as 1981, a fact revealed by a number of recently-released internal memos. The company was looking to exploit a massive natural gas field in Indonesia, but their pet in-house scientist warned against it, because the field was 70 percent carbon dioxide, and drilling for the gas would release the CO2, which would be dangerous to the environment.

For the next 27 years, despite knowing better, ExxonMobil spent millions of dollars to promote “scientists” and think tanks who worked hammer and tongs to promulgate the idea that climate change was a myth. Climate-deniers like Willie Soon of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics made mad bank by spraying scientific falsehoods into the polluted wind, thanks to the largesse of a number of energy corporations, including ExxonMobil.

They knew. They lied. They paid others to lie. They deranged the conversation, perverted bedrock science into a muddle of greed-inspired opinion-based nonsense, and maybe, or probably, humanity might have missed its window to fix all this because of the long delay they created in the name of profit.

Vast swaths of the US West, including Alaska most significantly, are on fire. Many parts of the world, including Europe, are boiling in unprecedented heat waves. California is basically out of water, with no relief to come in the foreseeable future. Half of Greenland’s ice sheet is now liquid. Pink salmon, mussels, oysters, clams and scallops are about to disappear from the menu because the oceans are turning to acid. Those oceans are rising 2.5 times faster than originally estimated. Fracking persists, tar sands oil extraction continues to scar the air and the sure-to-leak Keystone XL pipeline marches inexorably toward delivering poison to the world.

People have been working for nearly 70 years to warn us of the dangers inherent in fossil fuels and the unchecked release of CO2. Since 1981 at least, ExxonMobil and other energy interests have known what these dangers represent, but spent money hand over fist to obscure the truth in order to line their pockets.

The ocean is coming. Many very smart people have been warning us of this for seven decades. As for the people who bent their shoulders to the task of denying this inexorable tidal truth for so many years that could have been spent checking and averting this looming disaster, well … I hope their cash can act as a flotation device. They believe themselves to be so powerful, but the ocean brooks no challengers.

For the rest of us: the aftermath of lies. The tobacco companies tried this denial number, and it killed millions of people. The lies of ExxonMobil and the cohort of energy companies who paid through the nose to deny the damage they were doing may well have cashed the final check for life on Earth as we know it. They knew. They lied. How many will die for their profit margin? How many have died already?

Mind the tides. The brutal reality of consequences is coming up the beach.

Copyright, Truthout. Copyright, Truthout.org. Reprinted with permission

Do the Germans Realise the Damage They Have Done to Themselves and Europe?

Do the Germans Realise the Damage They Have Done to Themselves and Europe? Bryan Gould

From Bryan Gould

The Wehrmacht had a crack at it – but that attempt ended in disastrous failure 70 years ago. The long-held dream of German hegemony throughout Europe is, however, back on the agenda and closer than ever to realisation.

The Greek crisis threw up many sub-plots – many of them of great significance of course to the Greeks themselves. But the real story of the Greek crisis is one of much wider import. It has stripped bare to the public gaze just where the pan-European project is really heading.

What we have witnessed over recent months is a painful lesson being handed out to the Greeks – but even more importantly to the rest of Europe. Opinions may differ as to how responsible the Greeks may be for their own plight but what is now clear is that being part of “Europe” does not allow for any back-sliding if events move against you.

So, the Greeks – having already being forced to accept over several years the most destructive of austerity packages – have not only been compelled to accept yet another instalment but have also been stripped of their powers of self-government and of democracy itself.

The bail-out deal forced through the Greek parliament at the behest of European creditors makes absolutely no sense in economic terms. Even the IMF agrees that it makes it impossible for the Greeks to produce the resources needed just to service, let alone repay, their debts; and that is both totally unreasonable and lacking in reason, not only for the Greeks but for the creditors themselves.

But it is the geo-political consequences that are most worthy of note. The Greeks have been treated with scarcely concealed contempt. They have been deliberately and ruthlessly humiliated. The wishes of the Greek people and of their elected government have been over-ridden by external forces who have no concern for their welfare.

The Greeks have suffered this fate, not because they are uniquely culpable, but “pour encourager les autres”. The message has been deliberately designed for the rest of Europe. It is addressed to all those other small and medium-sized members of the euro zone who have suffered under the austerity regime forced upon them. The message is stark – there is no escape.

Any country that might contemplate, as an alternative to euro-austerity, the reclamation of the powers of self-government and monetary sovereignty will be ruthlessly cut adrift. Even the Greeks, benighted as they are, could not brave that fate. The euro-zone is quite evidently a straitjacket, centrally applied and disciplined, whose rules over-ride democracy and the interests of ordinary people.

And who or what, exactly, runs this arrangement from which there is no exit? It is German economic power. The troika of the IMF, the European Central Bank and the European Commission may look comfortingly like a European or even international authority, but the levers of power are actually moved by the German government.

One of the most significant aspects of this unfolding landscape is the extent to which the Franco-German duumvirate, which we used to think actually called the shots, has been left in ruins. The Germans have felt no inhibition or compunction in letting it be seen that it is their view that must prevail. It is a measure of growing German confidence that they could quite publicly reject the preference of their erstwhile partners for a softer approach, and focus instead on giving overt priority to what they see as German interests.

The mailed fist is now clearly visible. Any country in the euro zone that steps out of line will find itself forced back, with its own government and parliament sidelined and left impotent. There can be no debate. There can be no alternative to austerity; neo-classical economic policy and continued stagnation at best is, by decree of the German government, the only option.

The German goal is to establish German hegemony across the whole European economy by ensuring that the policies framed in Berlin are adopted and applied across the continent. They have not found it necessary to fire a shot. But the way forward is not without its risks and casualties.

Any misapprehension about how Germany sees its role in the new Europe has now been dispelled. German ambitions will henceforth be looked at much less tolerantly, and will meet increasingly strong headwinds. Angela Merkel’s confidence that she no longer needs to dissemble about those ambitions will certainly be put to the test.

More importantly, the European ideal has been seriously compromised. A Europe revealed as simply a vehicle for German power is a very different entity from the force for peace and unity which has been sold to us so far.

Europe over many centuries has faced the problem of restraining whichever was the dominant power of the time. They have usually succeeded, one way or another. That is unlikely to change. The Greeks will not be the only ones to pay a price for their bail-out. Europe’s future, too, is now more clouded and uncertain.

Bryan Gould

Facts: The Beneficiaries of the Dangerous Trade Deals – like TTIP

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Dangerous Trade Deals Threatening Democracy and Rights

UNISON have produced a useful document on international trade deals. The European Union is currently negotiating three major trade agreements that could have a profound impact on public services, regulation in the public interest and employment and labour rights. Many people will have heard about TTIP, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership between the EU and the USA but the EU is also negotiating an agreement with Canada, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), and a wider agreement with 23 other countries, the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA). Historically trade agreements sought to reduce tariff barriers to trade (taxes on imports). TTIP, CETA and TiSA are different: all three agreements are seeking to liberalise the trade in services, including public services; TTIP and CETA are also treaties seeking to protect the rights of foreign investors; finally TTIP aims to reduce ‘regulatory barriers’ to trade, forcing through a deregulatory agenda.

The EU lack of democracy has been question following recent events. Attention must not be deflected from the secret treaties being hatched between Europe and the US.

These treaties read like a corporate wish-list: secret courts that can sue our governments, the removal of environmental and health regulation and the degradation of working standards.

Who is set to benefit from this?  Hasn’t Big Business had enough their own way? 
Now Revealed: The scary truth about who is writing the terms of TTIP. With TTIP talks happening right now, it’s never been more important to spread the word about big business’ involvement in the deal.  TTIP is a corporate lobbying paradise as the graphics show. More details on this link.

TTIP 1

  • When preparing the mandate for the negotiations on TTIP, and in the first important months of the talks themselves (January 2012 to February 2014), the European Commission’s trade department (DG Trade) had 597 behind-closed-door meetings with lobbyists to discuss the negotiations.

TTIP 4

  • For every meeting with a trade union or an environmental organisation, Malmström and her staff had 5 get together with companies and their lobby groups. (Check the full data and how we gathered it here). The lobby groups with the most such high level meetings on TTIP were the Transatlantic Business Council (representing over 70 EU and US-based multinationals), pharmaceutical lobby group EFPIA (lobbying for pharma giants like Eli Lily, Pfizer, Novartis, and GSK) and the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise.

TTIP 3These are the corporate lobby groups which had by far the most lobby encounters with DG Trade in the preparatory and early phase of the TTIP negotiations (January 2012 to February 2014): BusinessEurope, the European employers’ federation and one of the most powerful lobby groups in the EU.

  • Transatlantic Business Council, a corporate lobby group representing over 70 EU and US-based multinationals.
  • ACEA, the European car lobby (working for BMW, Ford, Renault, and others) which had as many lobby encounters with DG Trade as CEFIC, the European Chemical Industry Council (lobbying for BASF, Bayer, Dow, and the like).
  • European Services Forum, a lobby outfit banding together large services companies and federations such as Deutsche Bank, Telefónica, and TheCityUK, with the same amount as lobby encounters as EFPIA, Europe’s largest pharmaceutical industry association (representing some of the biggest and most powerful pharma companies in the world such as GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, Eli Lilly, Astra Zeneca, Novartis, Sanofi, and Roche).
  • FoodDrinkEurope, the biggest EU food industry lobby group (representing multinationals like Nestlé, Coca Cola, and Unilever).
  • US Chamber of Commerce, the wealthiest of all US corporate lobbies, and DigitalEurope (whose members include all the big IT names, like Apple, Blackberry, IBM, and Microsoft), both with the same amount of lobby encounters with DG Trade.

Check the full list of lobby groups and how we gathered the data here.

TTIP 6

These business sectors had most meetings behind closed doors with DG Trade when the TTIP negotiations were being prepared and after negotiations started (January 2012 to February 2014):

  1. Agribusiness and food, including multinationals like Nestlé, Mondelez (formerly Kraft Foods), and Cargill as well as numerous lobby groups for producers and traders of food, drinks, and animal feed such as FoodDrinkEurope (the EU’s biggest food industry lobby group, representing multinationals like Nestlé, Coca Cola, and Unilever), Eucolait (the dairy traders’ lobby), Clitravi (lobbying for the EU meat processing industry), Spirits Europe (working for alcohol producers such as Bacardi-Martine and Pernod-Ricard) and FEFAC (the animal feed lobby).
  2. Lobby groups representing multiple business sectors such as the European employers’ federation BusinessEurope (one of the most powerful lobby groups in the EU), the US Chamber of Commerce (the wealthiest of all US corporate lobbies), the Transatlantic Business Council (representing over 70 EU and US-based multinationals) and national industry federation such as the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and the Federation of German Industries (BDI).
  3. Telecommunication and IT, including giant corporations such as IBM, Telefónica, Nokia, Google, and Ericsson as well as industry lobby groups such as DigitalEurope (whose members include all the big IT names, like Apple, Blackberry, IBM, and Microsoft).
  4. Pharmaceuticals, including direct lobbying of large pharmaceutical companies such as GlaxoSmithKline, Eli Lilly, Johnson & Johnson, Roche and Pfizer as well as lobby groups such as EFPIA (the European pharmaceutical lobby working for pharma giants like Eli Lily, Pfizer, Novartis, and GlaxoSmithKline) and its US sister organisation PhRMA (lobbying largely for the same companies).
  5. Finance, with lobbying by some of the world’s largest banks and insurers (including Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan, HSBC, Allianz, and Citigroup) and powerful financial sector lobby groups such as the Association of German Banks (BDB), Insurance Europe (Europe’s main insurance lobby), and TheCityUK (promoting the interests of the UK-based financial industry).
  6. Engineering and machinery, including manufacturing behemoths such as Siemens, Alstom, and General Electric as well as industry federations such as Orgalime (lobbying for the mechanical, electrical and metalworking sectors) and the German Engineering Federation VDMA.
  7. Automobiles, with some of the most powerful car brands (including Ford, Daimler, and BMW) and automotive suppliers such as tyre producer Michelin, as well as industry lobby groups such as ACEA (representing Europe’s car, van, truck, and bus manufacturers) and the German automotive industry association VDA.
  8. Health technology, with, for example, Eucomed (representing the medical technology industry in Europe, including large corporations such as Siemens and Procter & Gamble), Cocir (lobbying for “medical imaging, health ICT and electromedical” companies such as IBM, Samsung, Orange, and Agfa healthcare “to open markets… in Europe and beyond”).
  9. Chemicals, including CEFIC (the EU’s biggest chemical industry lobby group, representing BASF, Bayer, Dow, and others) and its US counterpart, the American Chemistry Council ACC (also lobbying for BASF, Bayer, Dow, and others), the Germany industry federation VCI and direct lobbying by chemical giants such as Dow.
  10. Express & logistics, including direct lobbying by companies such as Deutsche Post DHL, UPS, Fedex and industry associations such as the European Express Association (lobbying for the same companies).

Check the full data and how we categorised it here.

ttip-lobby-pharma

Several industry sectors have significantly boosted their lobbying efforts for TTIP:

  • The pharmaceutical sector has increased its TTIP lobbying seven-fold. While only 2.4% of DG Trade’s one-to-one lobby meetings on TTIP were with big pharma in the preparatory phase of the negotiations (January 2012 to March 2013), the sector’s share in lobby meetings jumped to 16.5% in the period after (April 2013 to February 2014).
  • The engineering and machinery sector has tripled its TTIP lobbying effort in the same period – from 3.0% to 9.5% of the behind-closed-doors meetings with DG Trade.
  • TTIP lobbying by banks, insurers, and other financial market actors has doubled, from a 5.1% share in the total amount of corporate lobby meetings in the preparatory phase of the negotiations to 10.8% in the period after.

Check the full data and how we gathered it here.

That big pharma and finance have stepped up their lobbying for TTIP is particularly worrying. The pharmaceutical sector is pushing for a TTIP agenda with potentially severe implications for access to medicines and public health.

While the corporate agenda for TTIP is broad and often issue-specific, big business is united in what it wants to see at the core of the agreement: excessive rights for foreign investors and regulatory cooperation. These issues would further skew EU and US politics in favour of capital and transnational corporations and threaten any future regulation that limits big business profits – be it in food standards, chemicals approval, or rules on production methods, to name but a few.

 On top of that, TTIP’s investment protection chapter would empower thousands of businesses on both sides of the Atlantic to legally attack decisions made by national parliaments, governments, and even courts if they undermine corporate profits.

(See our analysis of the proposed investor rights in TTIP here or watch our video on the issue here.)

TTIP 8

  • The preparatory and early phases of the TTIP negotiations were largely driven by businesses with headquarters in the US, Germany, and the UK and by industry lobby groups organised at the EU level such as BusinessEurope

TTIP 7

  • One in every 5 corporate lobby groups which have lobbied DG Trade on TTIP (80 out of 372 corporate actors), are not registered in the EU’s Transparency Register, amongst them large companies such as Maersk, AON, and Levi’s. Industry associations such as the world’s largest biotechnology lobby BIO, US pharmaceutical lobby group PhrMA, and the American Chemical Council are also lobbying under the radar. More than one third of all US companies and industry associations which have lobbied DG Trade on TTIP (37 out of 91) are not in the EU register. (see the full data and how we gathered it here)
  • There are two serious flaws of the EU’s Transparency Register: first, it is voluntary, which leaves companies and lobby groups free to avoid appearing in it – as many do. Second, disclosure requirements are limited as registrants are, for example, not obliged to report exactly which specific issues they lobby on (such as TTIP).

It is very clear why these treaties must be stopped.

A UN official has spoken out about the secretive TTIP deal, warning of “a dystopian future in which corporations call the shots instead of democracies”, and highlighting significant fears about human rights abuses should the deal go through.

We don’t have much time left before the talks finish for this stage of TTIP. And we urgently need to ramp up the pressure: US politicians just voted in favour of making it much easier for Obama to sign them up to big trade deals like TTIP. The ordinary people of the EU and the US are increasingly the last line of defence against the trade deal.

A whopping 2.3 million of us have already signed up to oppose the devastating TTIP deal — will you add your voice and tell the European Commission to stand up for democracy?  Coalition website for the ECI Stop TTIP

Please share! And you can sign the self-organised European Citizens’ Initiative here: http://bit.ly/1w7tdLp

(Addendum:  The US are also negotiating the TransPacific Partnership or TPP with Pacific-rim countries.  The TPP and TTIP, together form a single market which would essentially include ‘everyone but China’ and encompass about 69% of all global trade.  Many including the economist, James Galbraith, contend that these Western trade agreements are not about trade at all, but more like an attempt to take-over and control the foreign country’s economy on behalf of the transnational corporations.  Is this the start of a new cold war with financial weapons of mass destruction?  Are these trade deals the instruments by which the US intends to enforce its global hegemony against the threat of increasing Chinese power?)