Tag Archives: TTIP

The Green Party – We’re Not Just a Pretty Face!

JeanI have to confess that I had a personal dilemma on how to vote in the election. Should I vote tactically or vote for what I believe in?

I have been a member of the Green Party for 30 years but I have only been able to vote Green in the General Election twice back in 1987 and 1992 and the only times I have been able to vote Green in Local Elections was when I stood as a candidate myself. It has been difficult for us as a small party to find both the people and the money to stand in General Elections so I was pleased that the Green surge brought a new excitement and energy and candidates willing to put themselves forward.

However, I live in Derby North where Labour’s Chris Williamson only won by a small majority in 2010. Many people I spoke to outside the Green Party who were concerned about the cuts and austerity said I should vote tactically rather than vote Green. I knew that Chris was passionate about Animal Welfare and he was also in a group of fifteen Labour MPs who called for an alternative to the continuation of austerity and spending cuts. So I did consider their view carefully but in the end decided to vote for the party I believed in and not to play the tactics game.

Having taken this decision, I was very disappointed that the Conservatives won Derby North by 41 votes after three re-counts. I began to think that perhaps I should have voted tactically after all. But would it have changed anything? Labour was defeated nationally, their leader resigned but they still appear to think that austerity and cuts is the answer to our debt problems. From what I have heard, the candidates for the Leadership want to move nearer to Conservative policies to win back business and the votes of comfortably off people. This is far removed from what the Green Party stands for as an anti-austerity party, who don’t want to renew Trident, who oppose TTIP and who do not want our NHS to be sold off to the highest bidder. So, I’m glad I wasn’t persuaded to play the tactics game.

As others have said, for the Green Party, it is not just about who “won” on 7 May. I think the Green Party’s results in this election have helped the Party break through the perception in many people’s minds that it is just a well-meaning nice campaigning group. I believe that it will help to convince voters in 2020 that the Green Party is a serious political party, and given the chance, it can change the future face of politics.  One of the first things that we need to try to change is the first past the post voting system.

We have a long term aim to bring back values into politics, to build a fairer society for all and to continue to push for action to try to limit the consequences of global warming. Changing attitudes is always difficult and will not happen overnight. The abolition of the slave trade, votes for women, getting rid of apartheid, all required, and still require, persistence and dedication from those who believe that something needs to change. This election has shown that the Green Party is not just a pretty face; we have the body and brain to go with it.

Jean Macdonald
25 May 2015

Imagine a Public NHS

Imagine a Public NHS 

Vote for What you Believe In

Take the Profit Motive out of Health Care

GPLogoStrapGreenForWeb Quick Quote from Ralph Hierons – Candidate in Erewash Constituency

Ralph Hierons “There are many disparate, disaffected groups of potential Green voters in the UK, who may be unaware that there is a party that shares their ideals: those campaigning against TTIP who do not know we are the only party that are totally opposed to it; those fighting to save our NHS who are unaware of our policies regarding a fully funded, free at point of service, un-privatised NHS; those who do not want the land under our homes stolen, and poisoned, who need to be made aware that we are the only party who are totally against fracking. “

Green Party candidate contact details

Green Party Manifesto

Mike ShipleyMike Shipley writes:

The Green Party has launched its manifesto today, [14th April]. At the launch Natalie Bennett said “This manifesto presents the Green Party’s genuine alternative to our tired, business-as-usual politics. We desperately need a more equal society and the policies we announce today pave the way towards a brighter, fairer future for all.”

This is a long document, featuring policies relating to the economy, our society and our shared environment. It is also costed to show that it is possible to implement policies that will improve everyone’s lives and help stabilise the economy without the need for austerity.

Like most elections, this in 2015 is dominated again by arguments over the economy. No one can deny the importance of economic policy, but in a General Election that will vote in a Government for 5 years, we should be asking other, more profound questions. We should ask about priorities and about what sort of society our politicians are wanting to create with the power we will give them.

The Conservative Party is focused on money, it wants a society in which those who have it can keep as much of it as possible and do with it as they please. Labour seems now to be content with simply shadowing the Tories, accepting their economic strategy and hoping to be able to put a bit more of a human face on to it. Their real focus is power – vision has deserted them.

By comparison the Green manifesto sets out a clear vision of what we can build through our policies:
Print• a human scale economy that works for people and doesn’t damage our planet
• public services that deliver what people need
• a society that cares for the future of the young and the welfare of the vulnerable
• a more equal society that accepts diversity and offers opportunity regardless of background, governed honestly by elected representatives dedicated to the common good.

None of this is wishful thinking, neither is any of it unaffordable. What is wishful thinking is the idea that we can go on trying to solve through ‘growth’ the endlessly recurring crises that the economic strategies of the post war period have created. Perpetual growth in the economy is not possible; forever increasing the rate of consumption of natural resources is not possible, any economic strategy based on either or both will fail. Chancellors may engineer a temporary upturn of the indexes that they control in order to win an election, but in the long term the “growth and consume” economic plan dooms us all to failure.

The Green manifesto catalogues the failure of successive governments to which our present leaders seem to be blind. More than one in four children growing up in poverty, nearly one million people reliant on food banks, growing levels of inequality that sees the wealth of the richest 1% greater than the poorest 55% of fellow citizens, and the spiralling growth of debt that will see more that 2 million households paying half of their disposable income paying off loans by 2018.

For many, these grim realities do not add up to the success story that the Coalition Government is trying to claim in its bid to hold on to power. They spell out failure, and what the other manifestos are offering is very slightly different versions of this failure. More cuts, more austerity for the majority of voters, more tax cuts for the affluent supporters of the status quo, more privatisation that will lead to us paying private providers more for poorer services. Just more wishful thinking.

We are at a critical time and the outcome of this and the next election will shape our future – although you would barely know this from the trivia that is gushing out from the mouths of our so called ‘leaders’. Climate change is gathering pace. We need a clear action programme to be agreed in Paris at the end of the year otherwise global temperatures will overshoot 2 degrees centigrade. The cost of the damage will break all but the strongest economies – and the British economy is not one of the strongest.

Democracy is under threat by a corporate takeover of Government policy-making. This is demonstrated in the secret Trans-Atlantic Trade negotiations, TTIP, that will strip Governments of the ability to enact laws to protect public health or our shared environment lest they threaten corporate profits and bonuses. Inequality is stoking tensions in society that can only lead to a rise in crime, in fear and a decline in general well-being and health. The capacity of our natural environment to provide the food and clean water that we all need to survive is being eroded by increasing unregulated development and pollution.

These issues are ignored by politicians and commentators alike, they are too big for them to comprehend. But they are not ignored by the Green manifesto. Here, we set out a route that will steer us away from the dangers inherent in ‘business as usual’. We show how it is possible to build a sustainable society in which each individual can build a life of purpose, within the natural limits of the one planet that we have to live on. Our aim in this election is to campaign on this manifesto, to maximise our vote and so demonstrate that there is a serious and growing level of support for our policies; policies that work for the Common Good.

Mike Shipley April 2015
Mike is standing as Green Party candidate in the Local Elections for Sett Ward on High Peak Borough Council

Ralph Hierons – Erewash Constituency

Personal Candidate Statement for the General Election 2015

Ralph HieronsI joined the Green Party following the last general election as I saw them as the only party with any remaining integrity. With election policies and promises being rapidly discarded by the three ‘mainstream’ parties in the grab for power.

I am inspired by the lack of a real alternative to the right wing bias as we approach this General Election. I want to increase my involvement with the only party that I trust to deliver on their pledges in an open democracy.

What appeals most to me about the Green Party is their holistic approach to government and to society. Whilst the other parties promote their sticking-plaster remedies to whatever populist problems will garner the most votes, the Green Party, whilst fluid enough to respond to new challenges (TTIP, Fracking) as they arise, is constant in ethos, and propose changes across the board that can only improve society, environment and equality.

As we approach the General Election, I see communication as the Green Party’s biggest challenge. There are many disparate, disaffected groups of potential Green voters in the UK, who may be unaware that there is a party that shares their ideals: those campaigning against TTIP who do not know we are the only party that are totally opposed to it; those fighting to save our NHS who are unaware of our policies regarding a fully funded, free at point of service, un-privatised NHS; those who do not want the land under our homes stolen, and poisoned, who need to be made aware that we are the only party who are totally against fracking.

Without the vast budget and huge corporate donors of the other parties, our challenge is to take this message to these people and build upon the Green surge.

I have worked as an internet designer and developer since 1997 and, along the way, have worked in film, print and on-line media. I consider myself an able communicator and am looking forward to dedicating all of my skills and experience in this field, to spreading the Green Party message throughout Erewash.

I view Erewash as a mass of abandoned potential, which like so many areas has been brutalised by austerity cuts. The constituency is distanced from Westminster and consequently disaffected. Combatting voter apathy in an area that has been penalised by the current coalition is definitely an uphill struggle, but one I would rise to. I am truly inspired by the ‘Transition Towns’ movement and believe this is a model we could apply to Long Eaton and Ilkeston – developing our micro-economy and building a stronger community.

Green Party candidate contact details

Sue MacFarlane – Mid Derbyshire Constituency

Personal Candidate Statement for the General Election 2015

Sue MacFarlaneI joined the Green Party officially last year after having been ‘in sympathy’ with its values for many years. I joined because I wanted to be part of the change we need to make our society fairer and more sustainable. Having joined, I spent some time reading Green Party policy and recognised that some of the issues I was already interested in (Citizen’s income, re-nationalisation of the railways, opposition to TTIP etc.) were aligned to Green party thinking.

I quickly became active in the local party and we meet every couple of weeks to discuss current projects and campaigns. I have been selected democratically by the group to be their ‘lead’ candidate for Belper North Ward in the Amber Valley Borough Council elections. I am also standing as a national election candidate in order to give people a chance to vote Green in Mid Derbyshire in the general election.

I am a realist, and understand that the possibility of winning a seat in Mid Derbyshire is minimal. However, I have met many people who have said that they would like to be able to vote for the Green Party in a national election and I would like to give them a chance to do so.

I feel I am a credible candidate, with good communication skills. I prepare press releases for Mid Derbyshire Greens, and have been on the radio about a local issue surrounding democracy. I am a Natural Voice Practitioner, and this involves helping people to find and use their voice. I feel that politics has similarities to this, and I feel very strongly that everyone’s voice should be heard. I would like the opportunity to be able to represent people, and to give them a voice in local and national politics.

I organised the successful ‘crowdfunder’ project which played a large part in enabling us to stand Green Party candidates in Derbyshire at the coming general election. I feel well supported by my local party and activist group, and am heartened by the fact that our numbers grow at almost every meeting. They have faith in me and I would like to validate that faith by standing as Green Party candidate for Mid Derbyshire in the forthcoming general election.

Green Party candidate contact details

Alice Mason-Power – Candidate for Derby North Constituency

Candidate Statement for the General Election 2015

Alice Mason PowerLike many Green Party members I was previously, at times, a member of both the Liberal Democrat and Labour Parties. However, after attending a Labour Party conference in 2014, I realised that on issues such as TTIP, Fracking, Syria, Europe, Immigration and Welfare my views were generally and, at times, diametrically opposed to theirs. After some research, I read up on Green Party policy and, with no hesitation, signed up as a member with in May 2014.

I am 27 years old and have been politically active since the age of 14. As a teenager I remember putting “Stop Esso” stickers onto lampposts, and I went on to study International Relations at university. I moved into working in Education in 2013 after 5 years spent working in recruitment, 2 years of which being in Derby.

I became increasingly dissatisfied with the way business is allowed to behave in Britain; allowed to hire and fire at will, whilst paying wages which cannot sustain an acceptable standard of living. While I am a fervent advocate of the welfare state and believe every citizen should be guaranteed a basic income, I do not believe that the state should need to ‘top-up’ wages. If a worker is giving their time and skills to a business, they should be paid a Living Wage accordingly. The onus needs to shift to business.

I am currently working towards Qualified Teacher Status as I believe every student is entitled to an expert, qualified teacher in every subject in every school. The growth of Private School style Academies, allowed to run for profit and employ unqualified teachers must be reversed.

I am deeply conscious that my generation must not repeat the mistake of our forebears. There is no ‘if’ regarding when fossil fuels run out; no ‘maybe’ regarding climate change; and, no ‘but’ regarding fracking. We need to develop the technologies necessary to deal with these problems today. Beginning to burn a different fossil fuel – is still burning a fossil fuel. We must not work for our own profit in terms of housing – the sale of council houses has had devastating results for my own generation and more social housing is needed for those who cannot afford to buy their own home.

I am unapologetic about my support for the European Union. While it is imperfect at present and reform is needed for the Union to return to its core values, it has been a driving force for peace across a continent which had warred for centuries. The key to reducing immigration is not border control, nor to allow people to drown off the coast of Italy. The solution can only lie in improving conditions globally so people feel comfortable in their own homes. We should treat every human being, and every species, with the decency they deserve.

I have been delighted and heartened to see the growth of the Green Party in the last few months. I believe every Green Party member and every supporter deserves the chance to vote Green. We need to seize this opportunity to build on our support and prepare for forthcoming challenges. I would be honoured to represent the Green Party in Derby North in 2015.

Green Party candidate contact details

10 Reasons You Should Be Worried About TTIP

TTIP_banner_cropped560with_text2On Tuesday 18 February I, along with several other members of the Green Party, attended a packed meeting in Derby. This was the second meeting this year at which John Hilary, Director of War on Want, had spoken about the threats posed by TTIP (the Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership). The people were then asked to form four groups to focus on one of four areas threatened by TTIP – Jobs, Health and NHS, Food Safety and Animal Protection, and World Trade. People were asked to suggest what actions we could take in Derby.

What can we do? One thing everyone at the meeting agreed was the need to use every available means to make voters aware of the serious threat to our way of life that TTIP poses and to ask them to challenge all candidates on whether they are for or against TTIP.

In terms of political parties, we know that the Conservatives, Lib Dems and Labour are all in favour of TTIP, and UKIP is in favour of what TTIP is setting out to do but just doesn’t think it should be negotiated by Brussels. The Green Party (and Plaid Cymru) is the only main party that is against TTIP.

Greens can work through our party structure and our MEPs to try to stop TTIP’s progress. We can also join with many other individuals and groups such as War on Want, Derby Peoples Assembly, the Unions, Friends of the Earth, 38 degrees and many others worldwide who are all working towards the same goal.

Ten reasons why you should be worried about TTIP

1. A Threat to Democracy – if agreed, TTIP would give corporations the power to sue governments over decisions that could harm their future profits, undermining democratic decision-making made in the public interest.

2. A Threat to Public Services – TTIP will create new markets in public services such as health and education, leading to greater liberalisation and privatisation. It would also make it very difficult to bring these services – as well as our energy and water – back under public control or renationalise them.

3. A Threat to Food Safety – Through a harmonisation of good safety regulation, EU food safety standards would be lowered to US levels. This would remove EU restrictions on genetically modified organisms (GMOs), pesticides and hormone-treated beef.

4. A Threat to the Environment – TTIP would see EU environmental regulations being harmonised and reduced to US levels, allowing a US-style fracking boom in the UK and elsewhere in Europe.

5. A Threat to the Climate – With strong investor rights, TTIP would allow corporations to sue governments for bringing in new policies to leave fossil fuels in the ground.

6. A Threat to Workers’ Rights – Workers’ rights could be reduced to US standards and businesses could relocate to US states and EU countries with the lowest labour standards.

7. A Threat to Personal Privacy – Leaked documents indicate that TTIP could be used to reintroduce central elements of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), which was rejected by the European parliament after popular protest. This could force internet providers to spy on their customers.

8. A Threat to Financial Control – TTIP is set to remove many of the new financial regulations (such as banking safeguards) that have been introduced since 2008 to prevent a future financial crash.

9. Negotiated in Secrecy – While corporate lobbyists are playing an integral role in negotiations, the public have been shut out. All negotiators must sign nondisclosure agreements. There is no access to the draft text or the agreement – even for MPs – so most of what we know is from leaked documents.

10. A Dangerous Blueprint for the Rest of the World – If TTIP is agreed, countries in the global south will come under huge pressure to apply TTIP standards to avoid losing trade. The business lobby are upfront about their aim of creating ‘global convergence towards EU-US standards’. This would see free trade policies forced on poorer countries, that they have had no part in negotiating.

PrintGreens say no to TTIP – If TTIP goes through there will be no point in electing a government, it will be government by corporations!

You can find a previous posting on this site giving more detail about TTIP itself and the War on Want website offers resources and information about their TTIP Campaign http://www.waronwant.org/campaigns/trade-justice/ttip

Jean Macdonald

 

TTIP – the Battle between Big Business and Democracy

TTIP_banner_cropped560with_text2TTIP isn’t a deal for citizens, small farmers, consumers, workers or small business. It’s about pushing a ‘big business’ agenda.

At a meeting in Derby on Wednesday 8th January, 2015 we heard a very clear presentation on the implications for us if TTIP becomes law. The meeting was organised by Derby Peoples Assembly and Derby Trades Union Council. The speaker was John Hilary, Director of War on Want. John explained he has worked for the past 20 years in the international development and human rights sector.

John said that although TTIP is being promoted as a way of getting out of recession and recovering from the financial crisis of 2008, the ideas actually started back in 1990 with the Trans-Atlantic Business Diologue when big executives got together to sweep away barriers that stopped their profits. He also said that ‘Austerity’ was not a recent policy but was part of a long term engineering programme.

The intention to launch TTIP negotiations was first announced by President Barack Obama in his State of the Union address in February 2013, and the first round of negotiations took place between European Commission and US officials in July of the same year. The aim is to rush through the talks as swiftly as possible with no details entering the public domain, in the hope that they can be concluded before the peoples of Europe and the USA find out the true scale of the TTIP threat. It was hoped to finish plans by this year, 2015, as next year the US Presidential Elections take place so America won’t be able to deal with negotiations in election year.

TTIP is being negotiated ‘on our behalf’ by unelected European officials. Even our MP’s don’t know – and aren’t allowed to know – what’s being negotiated away.

It will cost at least one million jobs. It will pave the way for the introduction of genetically modified food into Europe. It will irreversibly extend the privatisation of key public services such as the NHS and it will give US corporations the power to sue the UK and other states for loss of profits when these governments introduce public policies designed to protect their citizens.

It is based on three pillars:
• De-regulation
• Privatisation
• Power to sue host governments – Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS)

De-regulation – John explained that TTIP is not a traditional trade agreement designed to reduce tariffs between economic partners. Tariffs between the EU and US are already at minimal levels. The stated aim of TTIP is to remove regulatory barriers which restrict the profits to be made by transnational corporations on both sides of the Atlantic.

The worry is that these ‘barriers’ are in reality some of our most prized social standards and environmental regulations such as labour rights, food safety rules (including restrictions of GM food), regulations on the use of toxic chemicals, digital privacy laws and even new banking safeguards introduced to prevent a repeat of the 2008 financial crisis.

John explained that the EU works on a ‘precautionary principle’ – the onus is on the corporation to prove a chemical is safe or it will be banned. In America it is different. There, the onus is on the government to prove something is unsafe before it can be banned. To highlight this difference, in the cosmetics industry there are 1300 banned substances in the EU. In America only 12 substances are banned.

If TTIP is adopted, then the EU would be forced to lower its standards in food safety to the US level.
• In America you can’t chose what food you eat. 90% of beef in America contains growth hormones and 70% of processed food contains genetically modified ingredients.
• Environmental regulations would be harmonised and reduced to US levels allowing a US-style fracking boom in the UK and elsewhere in Europe.

Privatisation – There is grave concern at the recent confirmation that health services, education, postal services and sewerage services are all included in the TTIP negotiations, with only audio-visual services (at the insistence of the French government) excluded. TTIP will open up our public services and government contracts to competition from multinational corporations and would make privatisation of the NHS irreversible in the future. (See below for information about a meeting organised by NHS Campaign Groups in February)

Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) – TTIP would enable huge multinational corporations to sue governments for loss of profits resulting from public policy decisions. It would allow a secretive panel of corporate lawyers to overrule the will of parliament and destroy our legal protections.

This is already happening in relation to existing treaties. For example:
• Swedish energy company, Vattenfall, is suing the German government for 3.7 billion Euros over the country’s decision to phase out nuclear power in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
• The French company, Veolia, is suing the Egyptian government for loss of profit as a result of the country’s decision to raise the minimum wage.

Good News – The good news is that there has been huge uproar about these plans. Thanks to massive people-powered campaigns across Europe, the European Commission was forced to suspend negotiations on ISDS at the beginning of 2014 and conduct a public consultation. A record 150,000 people took part in the consultation – including War on Want supporters and Green Party members – and the overwhelming answer was ‘no’, we don’t want companies to be handed these destructive powers. Fifty groups in Britain have signed up to the NoTTIP coalition – including all the largest trade unions, social justice groups, environmental campaigners and of course, the Green Party.

Bad News – Unfortunately, despite this, the European Commission has confirmed its intention to press forward regardless and to use TTIP to introduce the controversial new powers and the British government is hell bent on getting TTIP agreed. David Cameron calls the deal a “once in a generation” opportunity which will create ‘growth and jobs’.

What we can do? – At the heart of it, TTIP will lead to a shift in the values upon which our society is based. The movement against TTIP is growing, but for it to succeed all the groups in society who are threatened by this corporate power grab need to be mobilised. Some suggestions:

Attend a meeting “TTIP and the attack on the NHS” – Tuesday 17 February 7.30pm in St Peter’s Church Hall, St Peter’s Street, Derby. Organised by NHS Campaign groups, supported by People’s Assembly. Will TTIP mean the wholesale privatisation of the NHS? John Hilary, Director of War On Want, will be speaking again along with an NHS Speaker.

Local Councils – A city council in the German town of Erkrath unanimously declared its opposition to TTIP. This follows the initiative by hundreds of French municipalities to declare themselves TTIP-free zones. It was suggested at the meeting that we might press for Derby City Council to declare themselves a TTIP-free zone.

May 7 Election – Push TTIP up the agenda by contacting candidates, sharing our concerns and asking them where they stand.

European Parliament – contact MEPs – John suggested that many MEPs are not fully aware of all the implications.

Small Businesses – contact the Small Business Federation to find out their views and get them involved.

Young People – The effects on the lives of the young and underprivileged could be phenomenal. Mass youth resistance is needed.

We need to keep building the movement against TTIP because we can win.

Jean Macdonald  
Green Party Activist

Links:

http://www.waronwant.org/campaigns/trade-justice/ttip – sign the European Citizen’s Initiative against TTIP and CETA

http://www.waronwant.org/news/latest-news/18256-ttip-the-fight-is-on-for-2015 video of John speaking short presentation at seminar in Stockholm

http://www.waronwant.org/campaigns/trade-justice/more/inform/18196-ttip-will-cost-one-million-jobs-official download the TTPI myth buster

http://www.waronwant.org/campaigns/trade-justice/more/inform/18078-what-is-ttip download a booklet written by John Hilary

http://www.nottip.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/TTIP-Newspaper-Issue-02-04.pdf read a copy of The #noTTIP Times, October 2014

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Getting Organised Against TTIP

TTIP

A Concerning Trade Deal: TTIP

By Jean Macdonald

Jean Macdonald

Jean Macdonald

I would like to raise an issue which should concern all parties in the European elections.

I have emailed all East Midlands candidates about trade deals which are giving more power to big business at the expense of people and the environment.

War on Want is asking voters to ask candidates to sign a pledge to say that, if elected as an MEP, they will stand up for trade and investment rules that serve people and the environment and take back power from the corporations.

The main concern is with Investor-State Dispute Settlements (ISDS) which allow companies to sue governments. The tribunals take place behind closed doors.

According to the United Nations, in 2012, investor-state tribunals decided in favour of the investor in 70% of such disputes, ordering taxpayers to pay billions in compensation.

In the light of climate change, I am particularly concerned about the power that corporations have been given by ISDS to opt out of responsibility for damaging our environment.

For example, Chevron was ordered by an Ecuadorian court to pay $18 billion (US) to clean up contamination in the Amazon rainforest. Chevron is trying to avoid taking responsibility by using ISDS.

A Swedish energy firm is seeking $3.7 billion from Germany because the German government took a democratic decision to phase out nuclear energy and a US company is suing Canada for $250 million (US) after the country imposed a moratorium on fracking because of environmental concerns.

If the UK Government sets up deals with fracking companies, will the taxpayer have to compensate the companies if a future government decides to ban it?

If a future government, in the light of rising sea levels and increased flooding, decides not to go ahead with the proposed nuclear power station in Somerset, will the taxpayer end up having to compensate EDF and the Chinese investors?

The EU’s current negotiations with the US – the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) – will include ISDS.

At present, the UK Health and Social Care Act 2012 gives companies much greater access to the provision of NHS services.

If a future UK Government decided to change this, the ISDS clause would mean the Government could be at risk of being sued by the powerful US health industry. This would be disastrous for the people of the UK.

If we are to return power to the people and their elected representatives, MEPs must reclaim the power from big business and ensure that trade benefits people and the environment, and not just corporations and shareholders.

First published in the Derby Telegraph

 

Greens want more Organic Farms

During a visit toKat in Louth. an organic farm in Lincolnshire, Kat Boettge, the lead Green European Election candidate in the East Midlands discussed with farmer, Andrew Dennis, children’s lack of understanding about food and where it comes from. Woodlands Farm  near Boston lays on guided tours for schools and interest groups.

Kat said, ‘it is clear that children love coming here to see the animals and see crops being planted and harvested, but many can’t identify which ones are in the food they eat. It surprises me that many think fish fingers come from chicken and that tomatoes grow underground. How can we expect people to eat responsibly if they don’t know where their food comes from?’

After her visit, Kat Boettge congratulated Woodlands Farm for maintaining organic production and supplying local markets in the face of stiff competition from the supermarkets. ‘Woodlands is just the sort of farm that the Green Party wants to see supported by Government policy. It is producing healthy food, supplying local markets, maintaining the quality of the soil and working with nature rather than destroying it. It concerns me that a farm like this could be under threat from the increasing industrialisation of farming that will come from the trade agreement being negotiated between the EU and America.’

Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership                          The trade agreement that is causing concern to organic farmers is the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership known as TTIP. The farmers at Woodlands believe that this will open the market to genetically modified crops and cloned animals. This they claim will make it very hard to maintain their organic standard.

Kat Boettge, lead MEP candidateCommenting on this risk, Kat Boettge said, ‘I believe that TTIP is bad news for many farmers, it will open up our market to stiff competition from American producers many of who have production standards lower than in the EU. We know that American companies are very keen to bring GM crops to Europe. Experience shows that they will contaminate non-GM crops resulting in a loss of the organic standard. We also know that the modified genes do escape into the wild populations, what we don’t know is the long term effect of these genes on wildlife.