July 12th 2014 was the national day of action against the biggest threat to democracy in recent years. The Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership (TTIP) is a so-called ‘free trade’ deal currently being negotiated by the EU and US. This deal will give big business more power over our society, our environment, our public services, and our democracy.
Negotiations on TTIP between the EU and US began in July 2013 and are still ongoing. The sixth round of negotiations started on 14 July 2014 in Brussels, just two days after our national day of action.
In Edinburgh, activists decided to have a dancing robot flashmob on the day of action, to depict the ‘fight’ between corporations and people in the EU and US.
We made over 30 robot costumes and had many brilliant robot dancers on the day, both people invited to the flashmob, but also passers-by who wanted to join in!
Behind the robots dancing, there was a massive banner saying ‘NO NHS PRIVATISATION, NO FRACKING, NO CORPORATIONS SUING GOVERNMENTS, NO TTIP!’
Photo Credit: Ric Lander
The robots were a great way to attract attention and people came over to watch the performance, so we got lots of action cards signed.
Coverage of TTIP has been minimal,because the biggest bi-lateral trade deal ever negotiated is going on behind closed doors, but a photo of the robots got in The Herald on Sunday.
More robot action…
On Monday 14th July, an exclusive group of attendees convened for the sixth round of TTIP negotiations, intent on achieving ‘regulatory coherence’ between the US and EU. Alarmingly, the negotiating text has been hidden from the press and public, whilst hundreds of corporate lobbyists have access to both the text and the negotiators.
British American Business is organising a TTIP roadshow around the UK to ‘highlight to companies across the UK how they can benefit from a successful trade agreement between the US and EU’. On 23rd September, the roadshow will be in Edinburgh, and the robots will be there to say no to TTIP!
If you want to get involved, please email firstname.lastname@example.org!
And please write to your MP here to demand full transparency on the TTIP negotiations and to protect democracy, public services and the environment by opposing this aggressive new trade deal.
Photo Credit: Ric Lander
The UK government and the corporations trying to take control of Africa’s food
Thursday 1 May, 7pm – City of Edinburgh Methodist Church
25 Nicholson Square, Edinburgh EH8 9BX
Speakers: Janet Maro and Liz Murray
This is a free event but please register here https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-new-scramble-for-africa-tickets-11002748517
WDM Scotland organise a great annual gathering for activists and campaigners. This year’s is in Stirling, very easy to get to from Edinburgh so there should be a strong showing from the E+L group.
Brief details below and a link to the event page for booking information. Oh yes, and it’s free but please book!
Saturday 7 September, Stirling
Get stuck in to the detail of WDM’s food campaign, meet others campaigning locally in Scotland and share your ideas and enthusiasm for campaigning for global justice.
When: Saturday 7 September, 12 – 4.45 (registration and coffee from 11.30)
Where: Stirling Methodist Church, Queen St, Stirling FK8 1HL
Creating a pop-up community garden in Edinburgh to protest the corporate takeover of the world food system
On Saturday 8 June, the Edinburgh and Lothians WDM group had a really fun day creating a pop-up community garden in central Edinburgh to demonstrate that food is a right for everyone not a commodity to make profit from. We had recruited lots of people to come along and bring their plants, tools, compost, seeds and banners, which made a very eye-catching display and brought lots of people over to have a look! We noticed quite a few tourists taking photos of what we were doing! So it was easy to chat to people and give them a leaflet to explain what we were doing and why, although a few people just thought we were selling plants, so maybe our banners should have been bigger… We had a corner of the community garden for ‘plant your own vegetable for free’, with a selection of seeds. This brought a few children, and we chatted to their parents while we were helping the children plant their seeds.
We took action to show that Scotland was in solidarity with other actions around the UK, and with African farmers, in rejecting the New Alliance, which was being discussed at David Cameron’s Hunger Summit in London. Cameron was meeting with massive corporations including Monsanto, Cargil, Vodafone and Unilever, to pledge £395 million to “stop” world hunger. However, the New Alliance is going to spread land grabbing and GM across the Africa, where civil society has not been consulted but demand putting power in the hands of small producers not large corporations. In Edinburgh, and at actions across the UK, we wanted the public and politicians to be aware of the African farmers’ views, and also see the New Alliance as Cameron feeding big business, rather than solving world hunger.
The Hunger Summit was set up to give Cameron his ‘make poverty history’ moment while signing away African people’s rights and wrecking their livelihoods. Our banners on Saturday called for real solutions to the food system set out in food sovereignty. As 70% of the world’s food is produced by small-scale farmers, these are the people who UK aid money should go to, to support food production, not large-scale agricultural corporations. African countries joining the New Alliance must implement policies which will exacerbate hunger, such as making it easier for foreign investors to acquire land. A statement from African civil society rejects the New Alliance as part of a “new wave of colonialism” targeting their food systems for corporate profit. When we explained this to members of the public they seemed to understand why we were protesting and were surprised about what UK aid money was going towards.
One of our protesters, Anna Mayfield, was quoted on the front page of the Morning Star newspaper: “We are standing in support of African civil society to tell the G8 leaders to stop privatising agriculture and destroying the livelihoods of small-scale farmers. We are also opposing the takeover of the food system by multinationals and unaccountable G8 leaders. Whatever decision is taken by the G8 will affect adversely African farmers and consequently everyone else in the global food system.”
If you’re interested in finding out more on food sovereignty, WDM is having an event on 5 July in Edinburgh called Food security or food sovereignty: What direction for Europe? which will debate the principles of food sovereignty and food security, and examine some of the policies that the EU, UK and Scotland need in order to tackle the root causes of hunger. Deborah Doane, director of WDM and Pete Ritchie, director of Nourish Scotland will be on the panel. You can find out more here.
We had such a fun time creating a pop-up garden in the middle of Edinburgh where no-one would expect it! It made it a much more interesting and appealing protest, and really engaged the public. Watch this space for more unexpected, fun pop-up events around Edinburgh soon!
The next meeting of the group will be on Monday 11th March from 7pm to 9pm.
There will be a talk from Johnanna Carrie and Pat Abel on “Edinburgh Transition Towns, Sustainability and Climate Justice.” All are welcome!
Watch the video below to find out more about Transition and please share the event with friends!
Last month WDM Edinburgh and Lothian members celebrated our Christmas dinner. In January?! Yup, everyone is so busy in the lead up to Christmas that we have our January meeting in a restaurant, and following last year’s form this was the tasty Cafe India!
This is a quick blog before out first proper meeting of 2013 on 11th February, as normal at 7pm in Quaker Meeting House. No talks planned this week but following the food theme we are planning for our Farmers’ Market stall later in the month, looking at how we can support WDM campaigns in 2013 and having a discussion on the new IF campaign by a broad coalition of UK aid agencies.