May 27, 2014 11.08 am This story is over 119 months old

Whose sovereignty? Our sovereignty!

Quiet meetings: Pete Dixon looks critically at transatlantic trade discussions happening now – that people know little about.

Personally, the most hypocritical of all soundbites churned out by mainstream politicians are when they talk of sovereignty. You know the sort of thing: “our proud nation”, “the right to self-determination” and “the great British people”.

If we’re not fighting for the freedom of others, we’re defending ourselves against wild and ludicrous regulations being imposed by Johnny Foreigner! Yes, a politician’s and journalist’s dream rolled into one. That’ll get the British Tommies’ heckles up alright! Patronising and condescending, it works every time. Every time it suits them that is.

How many of us have heard about Investor State Dispute Settlements (ISDS)? Few of us I’m willing to bet because as yet, there is little being reported about it.

ISDS is an important element of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations that are underway at this very time. Negotiations which, if current thinking prevails, will conclude with much of our genuine sovereignty and right to self-determination being tossed aside by political lapdogs in deference to corporate power. Essentially we are told, TTIP is all about trade between the US and EU. Harmonising regulations in order to create opportunities for business growth, employment and wealth.

Little is known about these talks because we, the people, have been deliberately excluded from the table. Our mainstream politicians are keeping quiet, and it seems national media outlets have little interest in raising the alarm to any degree. Governments are represented only in an advisory capacity, there to help to identify legislation which negotiators describe as “non-tariff barriers to trade” or “unnecessary regulatory barriers.”

In plain English, regulations which are seen as detrimental to the accumulation of corporate profit. Many such regulations concern financial data security, health, safety and environmental protections. Indeed it is thought by some that 80% of benefits achieved by an EU-US trade deal would come from amendments to such regulations.

Whether you think institutions like our NHS are still in safe hands or are already being ripped apart by investor beholden companies, wait till the results of the TTIP take effect. Wait until we are being sued for millions, if not billions, by a company whose investors think it is being denied profits by a nation unwilling to surrender its most treasured assets.

And who sits in judgement on an ISDS panel? Appeal court judges? Learned men and women in The Hague or Washington? No, judgement will be passed by corporate lawyers sitting on offshore arbitration panels, unaccountable to domestic courts. So much for sovereignty!

The likes of Kenneth Clarke MP talk of an increased annual economy of 100 billon Euros. An EU report claims that a fully implemented deal will add 545 Euros per annum to the disposable income of a family of four across the EU. Two simple questions: in exactly which year will full implementation occur, and who really believes that such wealth will be fairly distributed to one and all?

Sure as eggs is eggs, when it comes to money, what they give with one hand they take straight back with another. Only this time, they’ll be carrying off our national belongings too.

Pete Dixon is a town councillor for Moor ward in North Hykeham, a member of the Green Party and Chair of the local branch. He works for the NHS at Lincoln County Hospital. Father of a young daughter, he's also a keen biker and enjoys watching Moto GP or a glass of Islay malt.