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State of the Parties


BY: Polly Jones, Global Justice Now

After 18 months of negotiations on TTIP, party positions are crystallising.

The UK government has been a strong advocate of the ambitious neoliberal trade deal, with the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats strongly supporting TTIP. Even after 50 000 UK citizens asked for the investment rules (known as ISDS) to be removed from the deal, the UK was one of the signatories to a letter urging the European Commission to keep ISDS in the deal.

In recent weeks the Liberal Democrat business secretary Vince Cable has proposed reforms to TTIP to address public concerns about protecting the NHS and UK food standards, as well as calling for greater transparency. This does not change Lib Dem fundamental support for TTIP as a whole, and could be seen as an attempt to put some distance between the coalition partners in the run up to the 7 May election. The false promise of jobs and growth garnered considerable support for TTIP among Labour MPs and MEPs in the early stages of negotiations. However, the Labour Party’s position is now only to support TTIP if ISDS and all public services are excluded and if standards are raised and not lowered as a result of the deal.

The Scottish government has responsibility for the NHS in Scotland. As a result, the SNP has called for the NHS to be excluded from TTIP because it threatens their devolved power to keep the NHS public. The SNP are also firmly against the inclusion of ISDS in TTIP.

Plaid Cymru, the Green Party and UKIP are all opposed to TTIP outright.

There will be a vote in the European parliament, and almost certainly in Westminster in order for TTIP to be agreed. The balance of power in the European parliament is such that securing a vote against TTIP will need the support of some MEPs from the liberal and conservative parties across Europe, in addition to all the support from the left, the greens and the socialists and democrats.

Our campaigns have had a considerable impact on MPs and MEPs. We must now concentrate on strengthening opposition to TTIP, in the UK and crucially in the European parliament.