TTIP: corporations to sue government in private, secret courts

Well worth watching this HoC Business, Innovation and Skills Committee hearing (which I can’t seem to embed in WordPress): http://www.parliamentlive.tv/Main/Player.aspx?meetingId=16584 :

“Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership TTIP Witnesses 1.  Frances O’Grady, General Secretary, TUC, and Sean McGuire, Brussels Director, CBI; 2.  David Babbs, Executive Director, 38 Degrees Visit the Committee’s homepage.

TTIP only masquerades as a “trade agreement”.  It is actually a corporate take-over of governments, facilitated by its hotly disputed ISDS facet.

 “ISDS grants a foreign investor the right to initiate dispute settlement proceedings against a foreign government. It is commonly included in free trade agreements, but opponents say it could leave local level policymakers vulnerable to libel proceedings from overseas investors, should local laws interfere with their ability to turn a profit.”

ISDS gives corporations the right to sue governments if they perceive that a government’s law reduces the profits of the corporations.  The corporations would have the right to sue the government in a private, secret court set up by the corporations where, even if the government won its case, it would end up paying the ‘legal’ costs.  This would have a chilling effect on governments pursuing policies agreed to by democratic consent at elections.

So via ISDS, corporations could dictate to governments, thereby instituting corporatocracy in what would be one giant customs union of the EU and the US.

This is the stuff of nightmares.

Update: At around10:58 into the hearing, Tory Caroline Dinenage starts badgering 38 Degrees’ David Babbs.  She asks how he dares to advise his members to urge the ditching of the TTIP agreement when he’s spoken to no experts and has not been privy to information around the agreement!

Never mind that the TTIP negotiations are secret.

Never mind that nobody yet knows the eventual terms of the agreement.

No, Dinenage thinks that Babbs is disqualified from campaigning because he is campaigning on behalf of the public. So, effectively, the Committee has called Babbs in to answer for campaigning democratically. This is very chilling from a free speech point of view, as it is not for MPs to hold the people to account.

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Cameron WILL pay the EU’s €2billion bill

Why do I say that? Because here is what he said (my emphasis):

“But it has never been the case that a €2billion bill is suddenly presented. I am not paying that bill on December 1. If people think I am, they have got another thing coming. It is not going to happen. We are not suddenly going to get out our chequebook and write a cheque for €2billion. We will challenge this in every way possible. There may indeed be legal action.”

So Cameron’s gripe is that the enormous bill was presented “suddenly”.  He says he is not paying that bill, but qualifies his statement with “on December 1”.  Thus, he has left himself an escape route which, if he is true to form, he will use.

PS: It is clear, from the Mail’s graph below, that by loading the majority of the budget increase onto a small minority of countries, the EU Commission is counting on there being no support amongst member states for Cameron’s ‘fight’ against it. The allocation has Britain so spectacularly out in front as the major contributor that it looks more like a snooker: the EU Commission is counting on there being next to no support for a Cameron bid for a rethink.

This should test Cameron’s mettle and EU leanings.

UK's EU bill of 1

Are Labour and Conservative ‘leaders’ both aiming for a hung Parliament?

Both Labour and Conservative conferences have been flaccid, dull and depressing – not just in delivery and format, but in drive.

Colliemum thinks that “Cameron and Miliband know that their only chance at governing next year is in a ConLab coalition.”

I agree. I believe LibLabCon are worried about UKIP gaining seats. The Tories, because their backbenchers would only countenance a coalition with UKIP – not the Lib Dems. Since the LibDems are likely to lose most of their seats (or a serious loss in their numbers), they are unlikely to be kingmakers.

So Lab and Con don’t have a potential coalition partner unless they team up with UKIP and teaming up with UKIP means their being unable to ram through EU legislation. That’s why I think Lab and Con are engineering a hung parliament – so that they can go into some kind of formal or informal coalition with each other on EU matters.

We’ve seen this happen on many occasions – the current government has relied upon Labour votes to ram bills through Parliament that the majority of Conservative MPs were very unhappy about.