Dec 09 2019

LEAKED US TRADE TALKS SHOW HOW TRUMP IS DICTATING JOHNSON’S APPROACH TO A HARD BREXIT

Given their shared record of constant lying, the carefully prepared declaration from both Trump and Johnson that the thought of further privatising the NHS never entered their minds, will be taken by most people as an indication that the NHS is very much up for sale. The article below from Open Democracy  looks a little deeper into the one-sided relationship between the US and UK

 

LEAKED US TRADE TALKS SHOW HOW TRUMP IS DICTATING JOHNSON’S APPROACH TO A HARD BREXIT

 

‘”I wouldn’t want the NHS on a silver platter.’ That’s fooled them, eh, Boris.”

 

Far from taking back control, Britain has clearly entered into a relationship where we hold none of the cards.

The cat is out of the bag: Boris Johnson is dancing to Donald Trump’s tune, regardless of the damage this might cause to Britain. His promises to maintain Britain’s ‘high standards’ after Brexit are not worth the paper they’re written on.

That’s the only conclusion that can be drawn from a set of leaked papers detailing trade talks between US and UK officials over the last 3 years. The minutes, redacted versions of which Jeremy Corbyn held up at last Tuesday’s leaders debate, were posted by an anonymous source on the discussion website, Reddit. They show how the US administration has already successfully bullied Britain into taking a harder Brexit position, which is good for Trump’s geopolitical games and US big business, but bad for Britain’s economy and British welfare.

The papers show US officials pushing Britain to an ever harder Brexit position, clear that they don’t want Britain to be a ‘satellite of the EU’ in the way Switzerland is. They even threaten that if the UK continued to push certain EU positions in international forums – something the UK is still bound to do – it could undermine negotiations on a US trade deal.

Papers from the time of Theresa May’s ‘Chequers plan’ are illuminating because the administration is clearly furious at May’s promise of long-term alignment with EU standards which would prevent the dilution of British food regulations which US agribusiness hopes to benefit from. US negotiators saw this as a “worst case scenario” and threatened to raise it with Trump ahead of his UK visit.

One of the most significant changes which Johnson made to May’s Brexit deal was a weakening of the alignment to EU standards, suggesting US bullying worked. But it’s particularly worrying that economic modelling seen by the trade officials showed this was likely to be good for the US, but much less so for “UK welfare and GDP gains.”

We already suspected that the US was pushing lower food standards in Britain post-Brexit. That’s because US food standards are far more favourable to big business than EU standards, and the only way to help US business increase its penetration into British markers is to undermine current regulation. US officials explicitly mention the infamous chlorine-washed chickens, promising to help the British government sell the concept to a sceptical British public. They attack attempts to reduce sugar in food, the protection of regional products (like Stilton cheese and Cornish pasties) and even nutritional labelling, which they say is more harmful than it is useful.

While US officials are eager to give US experts and multinational corporations better “participation” in standard-setting in Britain post Brexit, they are deeply critical of Parliament sticking its nose into such issues. They call the European Parliament’s decision to temporarily ban the Monsanto-owned chemical glyphosate “unhelpful”.

Although the trade deal could exacerbate the drivers of climate change, US officials report they’re “banned” from mentioning greenhouse gas emissions reductions. In fact, the US seems interested in introducing a ‘corporate court system’ in a US-UK deal, formally known as ‘investor state dispute settlement’ or ISDS, a mechanism regularly used in other trade deals to make government action on climate change more difficult. ISDS would allow thousands of US multinationals access to secretive tribunals, for the first time, where they can sue the British government for treating them ‘unfairly’. Unfairness, in this context, could mean phasing out coal-fired power or banning fracking.

The papers show both sides are deeply interested in a so-called e-commerce chapter, which is aimed at creating new rules for the digital economy. The problem is that these rules would lock in the power of internet giants like Facebook, Google and Amazon, making it harder for governments to tax and regulate these corporations, and making Labour’s proposals for a public broadband service all but impossible.

Across all service sectors, the US wants sweeping liberalisation, based on a so-called ‘negative list’ – unless you specifically list it, assume it will be opened up to US corporate penetration. This could mean parts of the NHS being further opened up (the US expresses an interest in nursing) and would make bringing formerly public services like mail or rail companies back into public ownership that much harder.

Moreover, US officials repeat Trump’s concerns that countries like Britain aren’t paying enough for our medicines, with a special concern about cutting edge biological medicines used in the treatment of many cancers. Introducing a US-style pricing regime would make such drugs unaffordable to the NHS. Incredibly, trade negotiators received special lobbying from pharmaceutical corporations as part of the trade talks.

Both the British and American sides agree that these talks should be secret – exempt from freedom of information rules – and it’s clear to see why. The papers reveal the British government being subject to bullying by the biggest country on earth. Far from taking back control, Britain has clearly entered into a relationship where we hold none of the cards.

They make a mockery of Boris Johnson’s manifesto pledge to protect British public services and standards – that would be absolutely impossible under the type of trade deal being discussed here. And they justify Labour’s focus on the US trade deal at this election. This deal is at the centre of the divergent views the two biggest parties have about what sort of country they want to build after 12 December. On the one side, we could have a government which tries to fight inequality and climate change by constraining corporate power through tax, regulation and decent public services. On the other, one that will ignore the interests of their own electorate to kowtow to the biggest corporations in the world.

27.11.19

 

 This article first appeared at:-

https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/opendemocracyuk/leaked-us-trade-talks-show-how-trump-is-dictating-johnsons-approach-to-a-hard-brexit/

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also see:-

http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2019/12/09/the-rise-of-national-populism-and-reactionary-unionism-a-last-ditch-attempt-to-hold-together-the-uk/

 

FROM BLATCHERISM TO MAYBYNISM

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Dec 09 2019

THE RISE OF NATIONAL POPULISM AND REACTIONARY UNIONISM – A LAST DITCH ATTEMPT TO HOLD TOGETHER THE UK

The following article by Allan Armstrong is the last chapter from his book From Pre-Brit to Ex-Brit. This deals with the current  crisis facing the UK state and examines the possibility of its demise.

(pdf copies of the book can be obtained by e-mailing intfrobel@yahoo.com or the book can be read directly at:- https://allanarmstrong831930095.files.wordpress.com/2019/12/from-pre-brit-to-ex-brit-3.pdf.) 

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(Neither the UK nor Great Britain have ever been unitary states. All forms of unionism are based upon the unionist nature of the UK state, which has recognised England, Scotland, Ireland (later Northern Ireland)  and Wales as constituent units. This has led to the adoption of various forms of hybrid Britishness.

Three key terms used in this chapter are explained at the beginning of the book:-

Conservative unionism acknowledges the unionist nature of the UK state through administrative devolution (or later acceptance of liberal unionist devolutionary measures  which it once opposed, but have become part of the status quo)

Liberal unionism  also accepts the unionist nature of the UK state but promotes political devolution as a better method of holding the state together

Reactionary unionism upholds the UK state and openly celebrates  its most repressive aspects. e.g. the crown powers, the armed forces and judiciary. It is also prepared to mobilise extra-constitutional force to prevent national self-determination, greater measures of political devolution, and reverse political devolution and even some administrative devolutionary measures that have already been accepted.)

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THE RISE OF NATIONAL POPULISM AND REACTIONARY UNIONISM –

A LAST DITCH ATTEMPT TO HOLD TOGETHER THE UK

 

(Neither the UK nor Great Britain have ever been unitary states. All forms of unionism are based upon the unionist nature of the UK state, which has recognised England, Scotland, Ireland (later Northern Ireland)  and Wales as constituent units. This has led to the adoption of various forms of hybrid Britishness.. Continue reading “THE RISE OF NATIONAL POPULISM AND REACTIONARY UNIONISM – A LAST DITCH ATTEMPT TO HOLD TOGETHER THE UK”

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Dec 02 2019

MOBILISATIONS AGAINST THE CATALAN VERDICT AND THE SPANISH GENERAL ELECTION

 

We are posting this article from Popular Unity Candidacy in Catalunya. It describes the situation in Catalunya, Euskadi and Spain in the aftermath of the draconian prison sentences imposed on those the Spanish state deemed responsible for the  the Catalan Republic referendum. It also describes the situation after Spanish general election held on November 10th.

 

 MOBILISATIONS AGAINST THE CATALAN VERDICT AND

THE SPANISH GENERAL ELECTION

 

 

The popular response against the verdict of the trials, and the state response of this popular mobilization has shown the problem again: the state, the government and the courts. . Continue reading “MOBILISATIONS AGAINST THE CATALAN VERDICT AND THE SPANISH GENERAL ELECTION”

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Nov 24 2019

#ME TOO – WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT?

In the aftermath of the Prince Andrew-Jeffrey Epstein scandal,  Pauline Bradley makes an assessment of the global impact of the #MeToo movement

 

#METOO – WHATS IT ALL ABOUT?

 

 

#MeToo is not just a moment, its not just a hashtag, its not just a single issue campaign aligned to the US Democratic Party, its much more than that.

Before Trump was elected, three women claimed he had sexually assaulted them. Trump’s lawyers paid them to be silent though subsequently Stormy Daniels has been vocal. A tape emerged of Trump saying he “Moved on her like a bitch” and “Grab them by the pussy”. Women and allied men were outraged and held protests in over 50 US states and all over the world. Its reported 240 protests were held. Continue reading “#ME TOO – WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT?”

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Nov 24 2019

THE PROBLEMS FACING THE PALESTINIAN LIBERATION MOVEMEMT

Lorna Anderson has been on a recent visit to Palestine. In the first part of this article she reports on the growing realisation  amongst the Palestinian liberation movement that they can not effectively deal with the Israeli occupation without taking on the Palestinian Authority. In the second part she assesses the possibilities of the Palestinian liberation movement adopting a wider transformation strategy.

 

1. THE PROBLEMS FACING THE PALESTINIAN LIBERATION MOVEMENT

This article looks at the development of the struggle in Palestine, the nature of the Palestinian Authority and the importance of the political economy of Israel’s occupation for the future of the ‘popular resistance’ movement. It draws on my observations during a recent visit to Palestine. On October 31, Khalida Jarrar, a member of the suspended Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) and supporter of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), was arrested in Ramallah by Israeli troops. Her detention was extended by an Israeli court on November 3, although no reasons for her arrest have been given by the authorities. Like many other Palestinian activists, Jarrar is no stranger to Israel’s jails: she has been arrested twice since 2015 and was only released from prison in February after serving 20 months. At the time of writing her fate remains unclear – will she be accused of a specific offence or simply held without charge in administrative detention? Jarrar’s prominence as a political figure and women’s rights campaigner has drawn international attention to her case, but in many ways what has happened to her is quite typical of the treatment of the over 5,000 Palestinians currently held by the Israeli state. Continue reading “THE PROBLEMS FACING THE PALESTINIAN LIBERATION MOVEMEMT”

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Nov 04 2019

BREXIT MARK 2 – BORIS DISPELS THE FOG TO REVEAL CLASS WAR – an Irish perspective

Many both on the Left and amongst the Irish and Scottish nationalists have welcomed the break between the Tories and the DUP, following Boris Johnson’s perceived cave in before the EU, over the border. They believe that the road to Iris reunification is now open. This article from Socialist Democracy (Ireland) argues from a much more cautionary stance.

 

BREXIT MARK 2 – BORIS DISPELS THE FOG TO REVEAL CLASS WAR

– an Irish perspective

 

Boris addresses DUP conference during his now abandoned ‘No Surrender’ days.

 

Over the years of the  Brexit campaign the Tory leadership have been careful to avoid any explanation of the goals of the project. One element,  anti-migrant sentiment and racism, was already in progress following Theresa May’s former leadership of the Home office. For the rest, democracy was defined as never questioning the thin majority of the Brexit vote. For May, “Brexit means Brexit”. Johnston’s mantra was “get it done”. Now the proposals put forward by Boris Johnson are finally beginning to clarify the details of the class divisions on which the process is built. Continue reading “BREXIT MARK 2 – BORIS DISPELS THE FOG TO REVEAL CLASS WAR – an Irish perspective”

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Oct 27 2019

THE FIGHT FOR SCOTLAND’S REPUBLIC 

Below is the leaflet handed out by the Campaign for a European Republican Socialist Party at the Radical Independence Conference, attended by 500 in Glasgow, on Saturday, October 26th.

 

THE FIGHT FOR SCOTLAND’S REPUBLIC 

Our Radical Independence Campaign (RIC) must not think that IndyRef2 will be a repeat of the 2014 referendum, this time with victory. ‘Brexit’ has changed the dynamic. On one side, the Scottish people voted to remain and will be forced out of the EU against their will. On the other side, English nationalism has become a political force, galvanised through ‘Brexit’, to defend British sovereignty represented by the Crown-In-Parliament.

Once England, Scotland and Wales are outside the single market and customs union a major economic barrier is raised in the minds of voters. A new economic Hadrian’s Wall will frighten or be used to frighten Scottish voters against leaving the British Union. Even if this only affects five or ten percent of voters this  might still make a difference.

Catalonia and Greece have shown that the Scottish people should neither trust nor rely on the EU (i.e. Germany and France with or without the UK). The EU does not support national self determination which would undermine its alliance of states.

With the rise of English nationalism, the Scottish people will have to choose between and ethnic (anti-English) nationalism or civic republicanism. In 2014 the SNP stood on the ‘civic’ side but rejected republicanism or popular sovereignty by calling for Independence under the British Crown (and the Bank of England) with the Queen happily ensconced in Balmoral Castle visited by Alex Salmond.

RIC has to rise to the new situation and be more ‘up front’ and militant in its advocacy of Scotland’s republican democracy. It has to win the nationalist movement and the SNP to popular sovereignty as expressed through republicanism and national self determination. It cannot do this if its hides its democratic republican programme under a bush.

The Tories have signalled their intention to make the next election about the threat to British ‘democracy’ posed by Labour’s support for referenda on leaving the EU and IndyRef2. Labour is a loyal Unionist not a republican party. Although John McDonnell MP said he would accept a decision by the Scottish parliament for IndyRef2 this caused a storm and cannot be relied on.

In 2015 general election the Tories played an English nationalist card about the threat from the SNP which put Ed Miliband on the defensive and clinched Cameron’s victory. Expect the same again. Scotland’s republic cannot rely on the EU or Labour anymore. The experience of the Catalan republic is instructive.

Scotland’s future republic, as represented by RIC, must be built from the ground up in every village, town and city. It must openly advocate building links with republicans in England, Ireland and Wales and importantly the working class movement in England

Campaign for a European Republican Socialist Party

Continue reading “THE FIGHT FOR SCOTLAND’S REPUBLIC “

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Oct 22 2019

THE CONTRADICTIONS UNDERLYING BREXIT AND SCOTTISH INDEPENDENCE

Allan Armstrong sent  this article to Conter, on September 13th, hoping  to open up one of the debates on the Left in relation to Scottish independence, before and during the Radical Independence Campaign conference in Glasgow on October 26th. There has been no acknowledgement of this article by the Conter editor, despite Allan being a member of RISE, Conter‘s main sponsor. This seems to reflect a unwillingness, highlighted at the founding of RISE, to discuss controversial  issues.

However, since then articles have appeared in Conter, or by RISE members writing for CommonSpace, which have been pro-Lexit. Allan’s article was written in an attempt to ensure that a fuller range of Left opinion was addressed on a specifically Socialist site claiming  to promote wider debate. This could then contribute to  the best traditions of RIC, where such controversial issues have been openly debated. A Left that is afraid to debate issues, in a democratic and respectful manner, is doomed to irrelevance.

Fortunately, both Socialist Resistance (http://socialistresistance.org/the-contradictions-underlying-brexit-and-scottish-independence/18211) and bella caledonia (https://bellacaledonia.org.uk/2019/10/24/republican-internationalism-from-below/) have now posted this article. 

 

THE CONTRADICTIONS UNDERLYING BREXIT AND SCOTTISH INDEPENDENCE

 

To date articles in Conter addressing Brexit have concentrated more on the neo-liberal opposition, and those on the Left perceived to be tail-ending this section of the British ruling class. There has been no real analysis of the aims of the hard right and national populist advocates of Brexit, whether the Boris Johnson-led Tories, or the Nigel Farage-led UKIP and now his Brexit Party. Brexit  has not been adequately placed in the context of the global rise of right national populism, highlighted by Donald Trump’s ‘Brexit, plus, plus, plus’, US presidential electoral victory in November 2016.[1] These people are still seen by some on the Left as political outsiders, despite now having their hands  on the US state’s anti-democratic presidential powers and the UK state’s anti-democratic crown powers. Nor have the machinations of such ‘left’ Brexit union leaders as UNITE’s Len McCluskey been addressed.[2]

 

The RIC conference on 26.10.19

The Radical Independence Campaign (RIC) has formed an important arena for discussing such issues.[3] Indeed RIC’s Scottish internationalism is highlighted on its banner – ‘Another Scotland is Possible; Another Europe is Possible; Another World is Possible’. Hopefully, the October 26th RIC conference in Glasgow will extend this opportunity for discussion related to the situation we now face. Understanding the political forces, which the Left is up against, is essential, not only in the UK and wider world, but for us in Scotland, when we consider the future for Scottish independence. Continue reading “THE CONTRADICTIONS UNDERLYING BREXIT AND SCOTTISH INDEPENDENCE”

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Sep 11 2019

SCOTLAND’S SECRET SHAME

The issue of ‘sectarianism’ in Scotland has raised its head again following loyalists attacks on republican marches in Govan on August 30th and Glasgow city centre on 7th September. Whilst the attacks  made by the loyalists were on  legal marches, politicians and the media have  predictably fallen back on the ‘sectarian’ two tribes approach. This attempt to cover-up the central issue, the nature of Northern Ireland’s and Scotland’s relationship with the UK state, has a long history, as shown by the response of  Jack McConnell 

Emancipation & Liberation is publishing an abridged version of an article written in 2006 by the late Brian Higgins, which addresses the issue of ‘sectarianism’. The full version of this article can be seen on the Intfrobel.com website, where it was published for the first time this August.

(https://allanarmstrong831930095.files.wordpress.com/2019/08/scotlans-secret-shame-1.pdf)

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SCOTLAND’S ‘SECRET’ SHAME

 

 INTRODUCTION

The issue of religious sectarianism in Scotland has been raised by Jack McConnell’s 2005 Valentines Day Summit, and by the BBC’s Panorama programme, Scotland’s Secret Shame, on Celtic and Rangers, broadcast soon afterwards.  Tam Cowan has even (if unintentionally!) added impetus to this debate, illustrating the significance of the subject.  He invited Jack McConnell on to his Offside programme (BBC Scotland, 6.3.06,  a satirical rant at Scottish football and the SFA. He questioned McConnell about ‘Scotland’s Secret Shame’ by famously asking him, “What’s secret about it?”  Cowan 1 – McConnell 0.  More seriously, we have UEFA making a bizarre ruling over Rangers supporters’ sectarian behaviour, at the Championship League matches against Villareal.  They initially washed their hands by declaring such behaviour to be “related to a social problem in Scotland”! Continue reading “SCOTLAND’S SECRET SHAME”

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Sep 11 2019

A NATION ONCE AGAIN?

There has been a lot of  talk recently about the inevitability of a united Ireland after a ‘No Deal’ Brexit. This article from Socialist Democracy (Ireland) provides a more cautionary note.

A NATION ONCE AGAIN?

Dream and reality in the United Ireland discourse

 

 

What do you learn when Irish nationalist sources start to pontificate about the inevitability of a united Ireland? The first thing you learn is that the forces involved have no new ideas or a new strategy for achieving their aim.  The second is that they urgently want to distract attention from their own sheer incapacity.  The torrent of output about this issue today speaks volumes about the weakness of the various currents. Continue reading “A NATION ONCE AGAIN?”

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