In an explosive move yesterday, Corbyn and the Labour Party revealed over 400 pages of previously redacted documents lifting the lid on the UK–US trade talks. The content of these documents cuts right through Boris Johnson’s neverending web of lies.
When the redacted documents were previously shown on ITV, Johnson asserted that the NHS would never be for sale. But now we can see, as plain as day, that the Tories’ aim is very much the opposite: to sell off our NHS.
In reality, this process of privatisation and looting of Britain’s healthcare system began long ago. But it will accelerate if the Tories win this election.
The question of the NHS, meanwhile, is only one of many issues contained within the pages presented by Corbyn yesterday. The opening up of the NHS to American big business sits alongside many other revelations relating to the Trump-Tory trade talks, such as: skyrocketing costs of medication, lowering food standards, and ‘banning any mention of climate change’.
“Total market access”
Six rounds of trade talks are outlined in the scandalous documents. The discussions at one of the meetings, in March 2018, show that Trump’s team are demanding “total market access” when it comes to the NHS. As the US President has made very clear in previous speeches: the NHS is not off the negotiation table.
During this meeting, government representatives also stated that exclusions would need to be identified. This is known as a “negative list” approach, where everything is on the table unless it is specifically taken off.
In addition, this “total market access” would also mean that Labour could not fully implement the nationalisations pledged in the party’s manifesto. US corporations wouldn’t only be attempting to buy up the NHS, but also large swathes of public services.
To defend these ill-gotten gains, Washington negotiators also asked during the July and November 2018 trade talks for a “corporate court system”. This would be a secretive system, with no appeals process. It would allow big business vultures to sue the British government for anything that went against their interests - i.e. their profits.
This sort of underhanded approach is a well-known practice of these gangsters. And it is by no means exclusive to US corporations, with British companies like Virgin also suing the NHS and stealing public money for their coffers.
Trump has previously shown his disdain for affordable medication, when he stated that foreign countries are “freeloaders” for not paying the eye-watering sums for treatments, as American workers are forced to. “Fixing this injustice,” the President has asserted, “is a top priority with every trading partner.”
This rhetoric can be seen in action from the second trade meeting onwards. Drug prices have routinely been discussed, with the US pushing for longer patents in order to keep medicine prices - and thus Big Pharma’s profits - high.
The example given was Humira - a drug for Crohn’s disease or rheumatoid arthritis. This costs the NHS approximately £1,400 per patient, compared to an approximate £8,000 in the USA.
Corbyn has stated that Labour would invest in a publicly-owned manufacturing facility whereby the NHS could produce its own generic medications.
This is a welcome step forward. But such a public provider shouldn’t be in competition with the giant pharmaceutical companies that have fleeced us for far too long. Instead, to pay for this new in-house facility, these profiteering corporations should be nationalised and incorporated into the wider NHS.
These private companies are built on publicly-funded research. But within the market-system, their thirst for profits is burdening our public healthcare system - and thus our public health.
Capitalism and climate change
Beyond the NHS scandal, there was also the disturbing attempt to ‘ban’ the tackling of climate change. In 2015, the US Congress decided that there would be no mention of “greenhouse gas emissions reductions in trade agreements”.
Corbyn has countered this by stating that the “protection of the environment would be part of our trade arrangements”.
Labour must answer Trump’s free-trade anarchy by calling for a bold socialist alternative. Capitalism is killing the planet. Only by planning the economy along socialist lines can we end the climate crisis.
Spin and lies
The capitalist press have jumped to the Tories’ defence in an almost pavlovian fashion: first by trying to redirect yesterday’s event onto their antisemitism smear campaign; and then by attempting to throw dust in voters’ eyes by asking for evidence of “ministers’ involvement”.
Given how far along and how many times the NHS and drug prices were discussed, Tory ministers must be well aware of these talks and would have sanctioned them. It would be fanciful and naive to think otherwise.
During the press conference, Barry Gardiner, shadow secretary for international trade, eloquently ripped a hole in their spin with his closing statement. “It doesn’t take six meetings and 540 odd pages to say the NHS is not for sale…that is a very long way of saying no.”
The Tories and their media mouthpieces would have us believe Johnson’s dismissals that these revelations are scaremongering. But this is the same man who falsely promised 50,000 new nurses, whilst double-counting 19,000 existing nurses. It is the same man who promised to keep local A&Es open, only to break the very same pledge minutes later. And it is the same man who promised 40 new hospitals, when in reality what is being offered is six refurbished hospitals.
Other journalists on Twitter pointed out that the unredacted document has been online since October. This doesn’t take away from the facts at hand. And it doesn’t negate Johnson’s guilt.
The only thing this does is to show the complete moral bankruptcy and lack of integrity of the billionaire press. After all, why must the Labour Party have to do this investigative journalism for them?
These fawning sycophants consistently give Johnson and the Tories an easy ride. They take everything - the denial of these trade talks; of Tory racism; of any lie by the PM - at face value, without ever investigating or reporting the facts.
Acting out of clear desperation, fearful of a Corbyn victory, their mask of so-called ‘media neutrality’ has slipped even further during the election.
Boris out! Corbyn in!
Corbyn has correctly stated that the Tories are a billionaire’s party. And he has also stated that Labour are “on the side of the nurses, doctors, the patients and the people”.
The task ahead is clear. We must mobilise all our forces to kick out this hard-right Tory government and put an end to their rotten trade talks.
Only a Labour government armed with a clear socialist programme can protect our NHS, our public services, and our planet from Trump, the Tories, and their big business friends.