"Whilst Cameron and Obama may wish to do the bidding of the big corporates, we are beginning to hear voices of alarm about sovereignty and the great modern battle of corporatism versus capitalism being raised."
- UKIP Leader Nigel Farage MEP
•In over 16 years as an MEP, I’ve never seen such a vast amount of emails, correspondence, even members of the public phoning my office in Strasbourg as I have recently over the issue of the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).
Partly this is because e-mail wasn’t anywhere near as popular 16 years ago, but the reality is that this is the first big crack in the European Union’s corporatist agenda.
It marks really the first time that I have seen large numbers of people questioning the EU’s mantra that big is good and that business, jobs and prosperity flow from all the actions of the Union.
For years I’ve wondered: just how can the Left support all of this corporatist stuff? Why are trades unions and the TUC saying nothing?
Well actually, full congratulations to campaigning group 38 Degrees, who have really highlighted the fact that TTIP is potentially very significant. I even received a nice letter from Francis O’Grady, the TUC’s General Secretary, regarding TTIP’s dispute mechanism.
I sense the Left as a whole are in real trouble however. British Labour MEPs, who had been for TTIP, didn’t know where to look in the Parliament Chamber yesterday.
At the same time even Labour leadership contender Andy Burnham, the ultimate opportunist, has said he thinks Labour should oppose TTIP in its current form. Mr. Burnham has also recent said that it is wrong that British workers should be surrounded by people who don’t speak English. Can you imagine the sheer righteous indignation if I said such a thing?
I’ve always been in favour of free trade, free markets and a form of competitive capitalism. But I find myself deeply alarmed by TTIP. As John Redwood has quite rightly pointed out, over half our trade with America is tariff-free already. If the EU were serious about tariff reduction, why not just abolish car tariffs and we’d be there?
It’s also important for people to understand when we talk about tariffs, we’re not living in the 1960s and maximum tariffs are only ever now 3 per cent on manufactured goods anyway.
I have no doubt that if UK had the self-confidence to negotiate our own genuine tariff free trade deals, we could have come to such an arrangement with the U.S. about 25 years ago.
Whilst TTIP may masquerade as being about free trade, actually it’s not. It’s about harmonisation, standardisation and a market place in which the giant corporates can dominate.