Think Global December 2017

December 2017

Welcome to the December issue of Think Global Extra, the bimonthly supplement to Think Global. Read it in conjunction with the last full Think Global from November.

Action checklist

  • Lobby your MP about the Trade Bill, which has now entered parliament
  • Organise to attend Trade Bill Takedown - our national mobilisation or trade democracy in February
  • Organise an action in solidarity with migrants for International Migrants Day (December) or One Day Without Us (February)

Trade

A crucial period for trade democracy

The Trade Bill has now been introduced into parliament, which means we have a few months in which to amend this bill and ensure parliament and the public can hold the government to account for trade policy. After this, we don’t know if there will be another opportunity to change the process by which post-Brexit trade deals are signed off.

We don’t yet know when the big parliamentary moment will be – we expect to hear within the next few weeks – but we are working towards January-February. This is when MPs will be able to put amendments down, and we can rally support for them.

As things stand MPs have virtually no power over trade deals. Unless we can give them this power, Liam Fox will keep negotiating deals with countries like the US, Turkey and Saudi Arabia with no accountability. So we’ll be looking at another TTIP. Or we’ll be looking at trade deals which increase liberalisation in developing countries, including intellectual property rules, or which simply legitimise human rights abusing regimes.   

The parliamentary situation

We have strong support from Green, Labour, SNP, Plaid, SDLP leaderships. But we are still to shore up support among backbench MPs of all parties, especially Conservative MPs. We can give help from the office to help approach MPs of different parties and persuasions.

We are working with a coalition including Trade Justice Movement, Unison, War on Want, Friends of the Earth, Unlock Democracy, Fairtrade Foundation, SumOfUs and 38Degrees

So far 265,000 have petitioned Liam Fox on this issue, while 60,000 people wrote to the white paper consultation. In addition, EDM 128, which supports the campaign, is the third most popular in parliament.

For a more detailed update, listen to the recording of our recent Trade Bill 101 webinar in the Global Justice Now shared drive for activists. Remember that the key background information is in our recent briefings, Giving Away Control and Trading with Trump. Additional copies can be ordered from the office.

Political lobbying - it’s urgent!

If you haven’t yet, please email, write to and meet up with your local MP as soon as possible. The call at the moment is still to sign EDM 128 if they haven’t already done so (the current list is here). But we also just want to make sure they really understand the importance of this.

If you live in Scotland, please ask your MSP to sign parliamentary motion S5M-08521 on trade democracy, and the importance of a role for Scotland in future UK  trade deal negotiations. This motion complements EDM 128 on parliamentary scrutiny of trade deals. The Scottish parliament motion has been signed by 24 MSPs so far, with some Green, SNP, Labour and Lib Dem MSPs already represented. Please make sure your local MSPs have signed by taking our e-action.

Of course, building wider public awareness is crucial as well - if you want to organise a public meeting about trade, email guy.taylor@globaljustice.org.uk.

Trade Bill Takedown, London, 5-6 February

To help build the pressure for trae democracy, Global Justice Now and War on Want are hosting a two-day mobilisation in London on 5-6 February - a crucial time in the passage of the Trade Bill. It will culminate in a mass lobby of MPs on the afternoon of Tuesday 6 February.

We are encouraging as many local campaigners and concerned citizens as possible to come to London for this mobilisation.

Register now to come for one or both days.

What will the mobilisation involve?

These two days offer activists a chance to engage, to network, protest, learn, share and lobby. We will be providing more information of the event over the coming days and weeks, but here is an overview of what to expect.

Monday 5 February

On Monday, starting at around 2pm in the financial square mile of the City of London, a walking tour will bring participants up close to the corporate seats of power: the multinational businesses that wield so much influence over government and state institutions responsible for setting trade policy and law. We will learn about the places where corporate courts are dreamt up and the lobbyists who are so central to the process of corporate influence. To put latest developments in context, we’ll explore some of the history of the City of London, and how financial power came to be so dominant.  

In the evening we will gather in the historic Bishopsgate Institute, on the border of the City and Spitalfields for a public meeting, with politicians and experts on hand to explain, to inform and to offer a way forward in the fight for decent, democratic trade. We are in the process of confirming speakers for the event and will announce them as soon as possible.

After the public meeting there will be a social with food at a nearby restaurant.

Tuesday 6 February

We’ll start with a protest at the Department for International Trade, to tell Liam Fox and his team in no uncertain terms what we think of his trade bill and its implications for workers’ and human rights, environmental concerns, food safety and democracy itself.

In the afternoon, we will go to the Palace of Westminster for a rolling meeting, addressed by MPs, trade experts and activists and the opportunity to lobby your MP over the trade bill, which is likely to be in committee stage at that time.

Travel and accommodation

We will be able to offer a limited number of travel subsidies of up to £40 to potential participants travelling from outside London for travel and accommodation.

For more information about the event and to claim a subsidy, contact Guy Taylor at guy.taylor@globaljustice.org.uk.

And a reminder to register for the event via our website. It’s all free, but this helps us plan for it. You can also find some ideas of places to stay on the Monday night if you’re coming from outside London.

We’ve been banned from the WTO

Global Justice Now staff had planned to travel to the World Trade Organisation meeting in Buenos Aires this December as we have done many times in the past. However, along with a number of other civil society organisations we’ve been banned from participating by the Argentinian government and warned not to travel to the country.

Read our press release and protest to the Argentinian Embassy.

Pharmaceuticals

Speaker tour report

The speaker tour took place in the first two weeks November and covered nine locations with a good turnout. There was a lot of interest in the campaign and Sibongile Tshabalala was a hugely inspiring speaker with a powerful story about winning access to life-saving medicines in South Africa. If you would like to organise an event to raise awareness about the campaign, you can arrange a screening of the internationally acclaimed film, Fire in the Blood which covers the global fight for access to HIV medicines. To find out more, please get in touch with Tamara.Hopewell@globaljustice.org.uk.

Policy update

Last month, the Canadian Parliament passed a motion for their health committee to review ways of increasing benefits to the public resulting from federally funded health research, with the goals of lowering drugs costs and increasing access to medicines, both in Canada and globally. Also the new health minister of the Netherlands has announced that the government want to “change the rules of the game” to tackle “absurd” medicines pricing. He also announced that he would explore the use of compulsory licensing – this is where a government can override a drug patent without the consent of the drug maker to enable other companies to make a drug in order to ensure access.  

Although both these developments are not in the UK, they demonstrate that there are governments taking action on high drugs prices and improving public return on public investment. This also helps provide positive examples to lobby MPs and the government.

Migration

With this being such a crucial time for trade democracy, we are urging activists to prioritise that over the the next two months in particular. However, there are some important opportunities for action around migration coming up.

International Migrants Day, 18 December

18 December is International Migrants Day. You could organise a stall, meeting or vigil to highlight the horrific levels of violence and repression faced by migrants across the world, and the culture of hostility and racism that many migrants and people of colour face in the UK.

One Day Without Us, 17 February 2018

One Day Without Us emerged in February this year as a national day of action in solidarity with migrants, highlighting the contribution that migrants make to our society. Following its success, where thousands of people took action across the country, this is being repeated by another day of action on 17 February 2018. The slogan for the day is ‘Proud to be a migrant. Proud to stand with migrants.’

There are a number of local One Day Without us groups that have formed and are planning actions - see if there’s a group near you. But the organisers are also encouraging any sympathetic group to organise events or actions of their own.

More information at www.1daywithoutus.org.

Upcoming plans

In 2018 we will be launching new directions in our migration campaign work, based on the feedback from local groups and supporters. It will centre on making the case for global free movement as well as challenging the repression and hostility that migrants face in the UK. More information in the next Think Global.

Scotland trade event

Launch of Just Trade Principles at the Scottish parliament

  • When: Tuesday 16 January 2018 from 6pm – 8pm
  • Where: Scottish parliament

Come along to the launch of the Trade Justice Scotland Coalition’s Just Trade Principles at the Scottish parliament. Learn about how we can demand more from the UK trade bill currently being debated in the House of Commons, by ensuring democratic scrutiny of future deals, and a proper voice for Scotland. Hear about our vision for a trade policy that puts the rights of people and planet ahead of the profits of multinational companies. Booking your place is essential. Find out more here: globaljustice.org.uk/trade-launch.  

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