Britain, TTIP, and the new dark age

16_january_2015A letter a day to number 10. No 976

Friday 16 January 2015.

Dear Mr Cameron,

Boris Johnson may well dismiss critics of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) as “numskulls”, a term he obviously learnt from reading the Beano, but playground insults do not strengthen the case for TTIP, quite the opposite.

The news that the inclusion of the investor-to-state dispute settlement (ISDS) has now been suspended in the US-EU negotiations is welcome news in a process that has been surrounded by secrecy, lacking any serious public consultation or dialogue. That you feel the need to surround such a deal in secrecy suggests that you are hiding this deal from public intelligence not stupidity.

You claim that TTIP will be “good for Britain, good for jobs, good for growth, and good for the British economy” and which you “think can add some £10 billion to our side of the equation and can result in real jobs”. Using meaningless and speculative sound bites is hardly a strong case for TTIP when you fail to disclose the costs which are likely to be far in excess of £10 billion in one of the most deregulated labour markets in the West. How much will Britain lose in profits going to foreign companies and taxes lost in tax havens with the knock on effects to our infrastructure exploited by these companies and which the great British public generously pay for?

Creating jobs is hardly anything to boast about given your all out assault on employment rights and protections since you came to office. The minimum wage is not a reward for labour, it is a loss making wage for every employee given that, even if one is in full time employment, it is less than that required for workers to live on. Official figures reveal that 1.4 million people are on zero hours contracts giving workers no guaranteed minimum hours or pay, hardly a cause to celebrate. The minimum wage and zero hours contracts can only be maintained through the support companies enjoy from the UK benefit system. The entire ‘free market’ economy is predicated on exploitation and profits before people.

If all that sounds pessimistic, it is a pessimism for which you and your government are entirely responsible. 6.7 million working people living below the poverty line isn’t down to individual failing or a lack of personal responsibility, it’s caused by either systemic failure or policy. Add in a further 6.3 million people in poverty who have suffered a sustained and ‘unprecedented’ fall in their living standards and it is clear that such a wide spread catastrophe is no accident but policy. With 60% of cuts in the UK still to come Osborne is driving us into a new dark age in which TTIP will herald nothing good for ordinary people.

This is the biggest assault on workers’ rights ever

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