Country Reflex - A Poem for America

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Scottish Independence, Democracy and TTIP

As a Scot living in London, who doesn’t get to have a vote in the forthcoming referendum I feel obliged to have a wee rant about it. Not about the fact I can’t vote, as there was never going to be a perfectly fair way to do it. I just hope that all of Scotland’s residents who are on the electoral register make the right choice. It’s a bizarre state of affairs.
There are a host of stunning reasons why Scotland should, and will likely become, an independent country. Certainly in my own living memory, the people of Scotland have only been governed by one government they actually voted for, in 1997, and what a monumental mistake that turned out to be - culminating in the destruction of Afghanistan, Iraq and fiscal deregulation to the extent of economic collapse that was only narrowly averted (for the time being) through a monumental debt accrued by taxpayers i.e. the state.   
The rest of the UK might moan about a dysfunctional coalition led by wankers but at least they technically voted for it, although that was probably Gordon Brown’s fault too, and nobody besides Tony Blair had a say in his appointment as PM.  
Needless to say, there is a major problem with democracy in the UK, primarily because the political establishment do not represent the interests of more than 1% of the population, while whoring themselves out to the interests of corporations at every available opportunity.  
Scottish Independence would certainly shake things up democratically, but it would also provide an alternative to neo-liberal, or as I call it ‘sell-your-granny’ economics. 
Why would any country want to sell off its publicly owned assets when there is no economically literate argument for doing so?
I wasn’t going to get involved in the debate at all until I heard all the eleventh-hour shit coming from the unionist camp. Given the establishment’s refusal to include ‘devo-max’ on the ballot paper, against the request of the elected government of Scotland, renders their last gasp ‘pledges’ nothing short of an insult and only serves to demonstrate the total contempt that the UK political establishment has for democracy and/or the people they govern.
Nothing makes this point more salient than the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) currently being negotiated in secret between the EU and US. I had no idea about it until a friend mentioned it this evening (thanks!) - there's been zero media coverage, yet the implications are profound - more so even than whether or not Scotland becomes independent. 
Here's a short excerpt: 
“The main goal of TTIP is, by their own admission, to remove regulatory ‘barriers’ which restrict the potential profits to be made by transnational corporations on both sides of the Atlantic. Yet these ‘barriers’ are in reality some of our most prized social standards and environmental regulations, such as labour rights, food safety rules (including restrictions on GMOs), 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. The stakes, in other words, could not be higher. . . . Most worrying of all, TTIP seeks to grant foreign investors a new right to sue sovereign governments in front of ad hoc arbitration tribunals for loss of profits resulting from public policy decisions. This ‘investor-State dispute settlement’ mechanism effectively elevates transnational capital to a status equivalent to the nation-state itself, and threatens to undermine the most basic principles of democracy in the EU and USA alike.”
The full text of John Hilary’s report can be found here 
Scotland has the opportunity to change direction, to redefine democracy in the 21st Century and a ‘yes’ vote will mean the people of Scotland have at least half a chance of creating a society that doesn’t exist solely for the benefit of multinational corporations and the super-rich. 

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