The EU is celebrated by the British Left as the best thing since sliced bread – a guardian of Western values like human rights and democracy, and a progressive bulwark against free markets.
Their delusion about the EU has faced an unprecedented challenge in recent months.
A little known trade deal looms over the cozy love affair between the British Left and the EU. The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is a planned trade deal between the EU and the US being negotiated behind closed doors. If there was any doubt the EU is a ‘crony capitalist’ project serving the interests of multinationals, TTIP would put those doubts to rest.
A crucial vote scheduled for Wednesday was cancelled at the last minute by Martin Schultz, President of the EU Parliament – under the pretext there are too many tabled amendments to the TTIP report. In reality, Brussels wanted to be spared the embarrassment of losing a TTIP vote and drawing attention to their grubby deal.
The TTIP debate was postponed in a vote won by a narrow margin of two votes, with the help of Conservative and Labour MEPs (only UKIP protested). The vote has been delayed for September, because the EU Parliament still has to announce their position on TTIP negotiations.
To say the trade deal is controversial is an understatement. This ‘secret’ faces unprecedented criticism from the unlikeliest of places. Left-wing anti-austerity groups like War on Want and environmentalists have been campaigning against TTIP for some time. Millions across Europe expressed concerns and signed petitions. Fashion designer and professional leftist Vivienne Westwood has also campaigned against TTIP.
Some in the British Left are waking up to the threat posed by TTIP to all they hold dear, namely public services and especially the NHS. Whether the British Left will re-evaluate their loyalty to the EU remains to be seen.
This ironic situation is a result of the British Left’s chronic failure to recognise the EU for what it really is – a corporatist racket. Forget about TTIP – already existing EU laws on public procurement obstruct nationalisation. Undoubtedly, TTIP would imperil public services and boost deregulation, and the EU is committed to finalising the trade deal.
TTIP contains Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) clauses, to allow foreign companies to sue EU governments for compensation, when national policies impact the profits of multinationals. These will be judged by independent arbitration courts, but it is unmistakably a corporate power grab.
As someone firmly on the right of the political spectrum, I might be accused of hypocrisy for advancing this line of argument. Yet being pro- EU is not the same thing as being in favour of free markets. The EU attracts more corporate lobbying than Washington DC, so they create laws which raise entry barriers to small and medium businesses – basically undermining competition by picking winners and losers in the market.
Most free market advocates despise the bloated bureaucracy of Brussels. The mystery is why does the British Left persist in its undying loyalty to the EU? Labour has truly come a long way from their Eurosceptic roots in the 1970’s.
TTIP should be a wake up call. Labour campaigned up to the General Election insulting UKIP and its voters. UKIP then came second place in seats in the northern heartlands, winning over the ‘left behind’ working class voters who felt alienated by the metropolitan elitism of Labour. The British Left’s near-unconditional support of the EU is proving to be self-defeating.
The Left’s support of the EU is just another disconnect between the Left’s self-proclaimed values, and what they support in practise. They ignore the threat of TTIP at their own peril. The British Left must abandon the EU if they want to be seen as sincere.
If I were to make a bold, radical suggestion: the Left should join forces with Eurosceptics and help win the campaign to secure Britain’s EU exit. Only if we Get Britain Out of the EU, can we safeguard our precious NHS, and protect our public services from TTIP. If they had a shred of sincerity, the Left would campaign against EU corporatism under the banner of Out.
Alan Murad, Get Britain Out