By Jon Swinden
The issue from the beginning has been democracy. Real democracy vs formal democracy.
About the referendum result. 48% to 52%. A day before, a day after, before lunch or after lunch? Any statistician worth his salt would be able to warn about the dangers of making BIG decisions based on a “simple” majority. A divided nation? Quelle surprise! A real democracy would set a limit and require at least a 2/3rds majority for such an important decision.
And what about the so called “betrayal” of the people if another referendum is run? What about the betrayal of the 48% “minority” whose views are deemed irrelevant by the “brexit means brexit” faction?
A real democracy is inclusive. A real democracy gives voice to all its citizens. A real democracy recognises the importance of minorities and their need to be provided with the protections that correspond to their right to representation.
And what about those infamous “trade deals” that it is considered so important for us to be able to make without our hands being tied by those pesky Europeans? Where will democracy be as the deals are struck behind closed doors, “for reasons of commercial confidentiality”.
Let’s be clear free trade agreements are negotiated behind the backs of citizens. There is no space for democracy or the people. Only money and those poor investors who risk so much for the benefit of… …!
Free trade deals will generate null or minimum commercial benefits compared to those we already have with the EU, and would impose new rules and regulations that would restrict the possibility of sovereignly deciding the policies that are implemented in the country. Taking back control?
Free Trade Agreements in reality do not only refer to trade but establish guarantees for investors, that is, transnational corporations and speculators that seek to secure and increase their profits. Among these corporations are the pharmaceutical industry, information technology corporations, energy corporations, mining corporations, agro-industry not to mention investment funds, hedge funds and others that seek to obtain through this way what they do not achieve through parliament or in the courts. Chlorinated chicken? You ain’t seen nothing yet.
These “free trade” treaties generally violate national sovereignty by establishing a kind of transnational corporate governance that will oversee laws and public policies, under the pretext of generating “regulatory coherence”.
In the area of food the treaties impact access to seeds and healthy food, generating price hikes and scarcity putting agriculture and biodiversity at risk. They criminalise the traditions of free exchange, reproduction and conservation of seeds, in favor of the large transnational biotechnology companies creating conditions which will generate an increase rural migration and ensure the expansion of transgenic crops and plantations, with their technological package of agrochemicals, seriously affecting people’s health, and contaminating food and water, as well as ecosystems.
Cancer patients and people living with HIV will find it more difficult to obtain remedies, and the viability of popular pharmaceuticals will be at risk because of rising drug prices. And let’s not even mention the privatisation of the NHS by stealth at the hands of big-pharma and the need to open markets and avoid unfair competition.
Treaties tend to extend the duration of copyright preventing “intellectual property” from being used for the benefit of new cultural creations. Internet service providers will be obliged to identify in court those who evade the so-called “technological protection measures”, which are the digital obstacles imposed by companies. This will also prevent access to information by independent researchers or innovators regarding transnational companies’ products, since these products always have intellectual protection.
But real democracy is not just about which voting system is in favour at any one time. It’s also about information and the media that supplies it. Where is the “real” media that has our backs, that strives to give us real information rather than that contaminated by the financial interests which it serves? Where was the “real” media during the referendum campaign?
Let’s not get lost in the kingdom of the secondary. Let’s bring the real issues to the fore, with real information and open debate. Let’s have responsibility and accountability. Let’s have a real democracy not a formal one. Let’s have a real media at the service of information and the people. Let’s put ordinary human beings at the centre of our struggle to create a better world.