Twenty ways to fight for trade democracy

 

Our Dangerous Deals in the Dark campaign is fighting for a democratic trade process for the UK. To do this we are calling for five things which would make the trade process democratic and accountable to the public:

  1. The right of parliament to set a thorough mandate to govern each trade negotiation, with a remit for the devolved administrations
  2. The right of the public to be consulted as part of setting that mandate
  3. Full transparency in negotiations
  4. The right of parliament to amend and to reject trade deals, with full debates and scrutiny guaranteed and a remit for the devolved administrations
  5. The right of parliament to review trade deals and withdraw from them in a timely manner

We’ll be pushing for these to be included in the Trade Bill, which the government will be bringing to parliament in the coming months.

To make this happen we need activists to be engaged locally to put this issue on the agenda. Whether it’s MP lobbying, building local partnerships, movement building, media engagement or education that you’re interested in there are ways that you can support this campaign.

Here are twenty ideas to get you started. You could choose one of the areas and solely focus your activism there by working through the steps to escalate your impact, run a few activities at the same time or pick and mix between any of the suggestions. There is also a timeline for key dates to help you coordinate with other campaign events at the bottom of this page.

We will be updating the page with dates and developments as the campaign progresses.

 

MP lobbying

Getting MP support for this campaign is essential if we are to be successful in amending the Trade Bill with our demands.

Step 1: Citizen researchers 

MPs are not used to talking about trade. Trade agreements are not usually discussed in parliament so it’s been easy for MPs to ignore this area leading to diminished democratic oversight of the issue. We want to put this issue firmly on their radar by asking them a few questions about their position on trade deals. Would you be able to visit you MPs surgery and find out the answers to the questions in our online survey? Let us know what you find out by filling out the survey or if you can’t access it online please email activism@globaljustice.org.uk and we will send you through a copy. If you can access the online form please use it to feed back as it’ll cut down on the time that we have to dedicate data input. If you can’t we are happy to help.

Step 2: Trade teach-in

Now you’ve visited your MP and asked a few questions time to turn up the heat. Get everyone to read the ‘Giving away control’, ‘Trading with Trump’ and Ten alternatives to a corporate trade agenda briefings ahead of your next meeting. At the meeting talk through the documents and discuss what you think are the most persuasive arguments that you’d use to get your MP on board. You could then visit your MP’s surgery or find a public event where they are speaking to make your case directly to them and ask them to make their support for the campaign public by signing Early Day Motion 128. If they’re not supportive straight away you could keep this up for a while, keeping tabs on the responses that you get from MPs in your area. Make sure you let us know if you manage to gain their support by getting your photo taken with the MP showing that they’ve signed up to activism@globaljustice.org.uk.

Step 3: Deals in the Dark event 

Is your MP proving too slippery to tie down to an answer at a surgery or public engagement? Less easy for them to avoid the topic if you manage to get them to speak at a meeting dedicated to the issue. Global Justice Now is happy to support you in organising the event and provide a speaker if you email us at activism@globaljustice.org.uk. We also have a workshop template with a suggested title and blurb that you could use to advertise the event linked to at the bottom of the page. To persuade them to attend the meeting it’s worth thinking about who’s got their ear currently. Check out the ‘partnership section’ for more info on this.

Step 4: Movement building

Still no luck? You’re going to have to show them that there’s a tonne of people out there who aren’t going to let them ignore this issue. Check out the movement building section.

Not sure how to go about lobbying your MP? Check out our online how to guide.

 

Partnership building

To strengthen the campaign’s reach we’ve been building a coalition at the national level with organisations such as the RSPB, Unison and Friends of the Earth. To give this real punch we need grassroots partnerships forming at the local level to help spread the message.

Step 1 – Phone a friend

Over the past few years countless organisations have joined our movement to reject TTIP and CETA. To make this campaign a success we need them all involved and then some. To start, spend some time mapping out all of the groups locally that have been active in trade campaigning. Then consider others who you think would be able to influence your MP that you think that you could persuade to get on board. We’ve found that trade unions, environmental, health, farmer, mums and consumer rights groups and small/medium enterprises have influence over MPs and have been supportive in past, so they are worth picking up the phone to. Check out the partners involved in Trade Justice Scotland Coalition for inspiration if you’re struggling.

Step 2 – Team Trade Talks

Organise to go and speak at local campaign group meetings using the trade talk resource available at the bottom of this page.  If you’re interested in organising something bigger you could use our example workshop template to bring different groups together to give them some more in-depth training on the issue. We’ve uploaded the workshop resource to our activist shared drive. If you can’t access the shared drive or you’re not sure about running one of these events alone or haven’t email activism@globaljustice.org.uk to discuss how we can support you or provide a speaker for the event.

Step 3 – ‘Re-thinking trade’ event 

If you’d prefer to hold a more participatory style of event, you could use a more interactive format, giving people the opportunity to feed in their ideas on what they would like an alternative trade deal to look like. Use the ‘Ten alternatives to a corporate trade agenda’ discussion document to spark ideas. The Trade Justice Scotland Coalition ran an event similar to this and decided upon a series of principles that they would like future trade deals to be based on. They are now using these as the basis for shared campaigning work. Email activism@globaljustice.org.uk if you’d like to hear more about how to organise a similar event near you.

Step 4 – In the media 

Once you’ve built your base it’s worth doing some work to publicise this in the media. Showing that there’s lots of you all united in your goal can be a powerful message for rallying more people behind the campaign and boosting your influence over your target MP. This could include writing a joint letter to the local paper. Check out the media section below and our local media ‘how to’ guide for help with this.

 

Movement building

Radical political change historically has come about as a result of coordinated civil society action. Once movements are large enough, politicians and institutions cannot ignore the will of the people and loose their legitimacy. No matter what your elected representatives or other pillars of society are saying you taking to the streets has delivered in the past and can do again. Watch Erica’ Chenoweth’s talk for more on this idea.

Step 1: Campaign stall

Holding stalls at local events, talks and fairs is a great way to engage people with your issue and attract new members to your group. For this campaign we’d recommend trying local farmers markets and trade union, Save our NHS and environmental events as good places to explore, on top of any that you’ve found to work well in the past.  You can read our how to guide on organising a good campaign stall on our activism resources page.

Step 2: Trade walk

Organise a walking tour event, where you visit a number of key sites around your local area that would be affected by the next raft of trade deals. You could include legal companies involved with ISDS cases, NHS practices, banks, food stores and farms in your tour to draw attention to the potential damage that could be caused by future trade deals. Check out the guide to organising a walking tour at the bottom of this page for more info.

Step 3: Public stunts

There are loads of different stunts that you could come up with based on the key arguments for the campaign highlighted in our briefings. To get you started we’ve come up with three ideas:

  • Highlight how big corporations are pulling the strings of our government by putting on an outdoor puppet show with a makeshift theatre or dressing up for a street theatre style action.
  • Show how deals are being done in the dark with a box of unknowns – put your hand in the box and you don’t know what you’re going to encounter. You could include:        
    • A jar of slime representing toxic processes being introduced into our food production systems.
    • A toy brain or heart to start a discussion around how the NHS could be opened up to private healthcare under the UK-US trade deal.
    • A judge’s wig or hammer to introduce issues around ISDS into your conversation.
    • A lump of coal to show how we may have our ability to choose renewables over fossil fuel intensive energy, regardless of which one is cheaper, taken away.
  • Order a giant version of our ‘Corporate Monopoly’ game, which includes cards on trade, by emailing activism@globaljustice.org.uk.

For more ideas on organising creative public stunts check out or ‘how to’ guides on our website.

Step 4: Trade talks takeover

This will be our big day of action, organised for early in 2018. We’ll be arranging a full day’s government lobby, with meetings with MPs, activist-led discussions, protests and a social event. It’ll be your chance to pile the pressure on your MP by mobilising lots of local activists to take part in this full day of action as well as meeting like-minded activists from around the country. We’ll be announcing full details about this event soon but we wanted to mention it now so that you can include it into your group’s plans.

 

Media

Local, national and social media if used well can propel a campaigns message directly into the mainstream. Just look at how the chlorine-washed chicken story at the beginning of the UK-US trade deal negotiations suddenly shot our campaign to centre stage.

Step 1: Get on social media

If you’re interested in social media campaigning at the very least you want to set up a group on Facebook and to start using Twitter. There is a tonne of information online about how to get these set up if you run a quick google search. For an example of how to use social media to keep discussions about trade lively have a look at how the St. Andrews TTIP action group use their Facebook group.

Step 2: Memes

There has been a lot of talk about the use of memes since the 2017 general election, where they proved to be an effective tool for political engagement. If you’ve got an idea for a quirky image that would help you to make your views about trade known there’s a bunch of free software out there that you can use to create them. Have a look at piktochart or canva to start. If you do manage to make something make sure you post it on the national activists’ Facebook group.

Step 3: Videos

Whatever action or stunt you’re doing make sure you get a short clip of the action and somebody talking about why you’ve organised the action. If you send this out with a press release to your local newspaper you’re much more likely to get coverage of your action. For more info on how to work with the local media check out our ‘how to’ guide on our website.

Step 4: Local news stories

Through your partnership-building work you may have built up relationships with new people that could give a unique and local perspective on trade democracy. For example, working with a local farmer who’s become concerned about the potential negative impact that trade deals could have on his industry would be a great angle for a local news article. All you’d need to gather is a quote or a short video statement from them and release it through a press release. Make sure you make the link to the local aspect of the story in the subject line of the email and to follow it up with a phone call.

 

Skill up and share

Not sure if you’re skilled up enough to start campaigning? Here are a few ideas and resources that you could use to improve your and your groups knowledge and skills.

Step 1: In-depth

Global Justice Now has published briefings on democratic trade, the UK-US trade deal and alternatives. You can find them all on our website. Staff also blog about developments as they come up.

Step 2: Monthly reading group

To help you get to grips with the broader issues surrounding trade we’ve put together a short reading list available at the bottom of this page. You could have a presentation or discussion around one of these added on as a standard part of your monthly agenda.

Step 3 - Trade podcast

Our coalition partner the Trade Justice Movement have release a series of podcasts exploring how ‘new generation’ trade deals will effect workers rights, the environment and development.  You can find the series on their website at tjm.org.uk/podcasts.

Step 4 - Keeping up-to-date

There are four ways that you can keep up to date with what’s going on with the campaign:

  1. Think Global is our monthly activist briefing that will give you a short update on what’s been happening with the campaign. You can sign up to Think Global on our website.
  2. The trade mailing list will give you more in-depth information about the campaign. Email guy.taylor@globaljustice.org.uk to be added to the mailing list. 
  3. Our Global Justice Now activists Facebook group provides a space for pooling information spotted by all of our campaigners, sharing ideas for actions and building connections with other activists. You can join the group by on this Facebook page.
  4. Want to get ahead of the curve with trade news? Follow the people listed on a trade democracy Twitter list, which you can find on the shared google drive, highlights all of the most vocal trade twitter users on both sides of the trade debate.

 

Resources

  1. Key campaign dates
  2. Model trade workshop template
  3. Model deals in the dark talk and powerpoint presentation
  4. A guide to organising a deals in the dark trade walk
  5. Our twitter list is available in our shared activist google drive. Email activism@globaljustice.org.uk if you'd like to access it.

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