To the TTIP protest. I went to Nupton, as it was organised by the Green Party there, the best organised local protest in easy bus reach. I have never been to the main town in my constituency. And I wanted to check them out: I want a political party which I can respect, and feel good about.
The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership being negotiated between the US and EU will make consumer protection, employment protection and environmental protection legislation illegal. Corporations will be able to sue governments for damages in shadowy, unaccountable international courts, for damages for restraint of trade. The Australian government legislated that cigarette packets should be plain, with only a health warning, and was challenged by the WTO. It is apocalyptic. The NHS will be privatised. But people’s anger is diffused, channelled by UKIP against immigrants and the EU.
We need that anger, directed against the real problems; and we also need to give people hope. But standing in Aldershot street, I found that we were talking to ourselves. We collected six signatures, and some may have been our own. “Power to the
People Corporations” said our leaflets, which is a good slogan: I wondered how to express the enormity of TTIP. The protection of employment tribunals has already been taken away, because of the huge charges to the Claimant for using them. “Power to the Corporations!” I said, holding out my leaflets, as people walked by, shaking their heads. They have their own problems. They do not want inveigled into others’ enthusiasms. Some took my leaflets, and put them in the bin ten yards down the road. Some looked.
It is hard work. Acceptance of What Is, was my mantra- this is not a judgment on me, rejecting my leaflets- but I found it upsetting, as when I am unable to communicate. UKIP gives them something simple to hate.
No wonder that we talked among ourselves. I told a man I had come from Marsby. “A ‘Black Bitch’,” he said knowingly. I would rather say Martian, being a science fiction fan. He is a science fiction fan too. “It’s Doctor Who tonight,” he said excitedly. (Oh, no.) “And it’s the Daleks!” (Here it comes-) “EXTERMINATE!!” I don’t think anyone noticed. Really. I moved away.
I had one conversation with The Public. A man with that sheep-like vacuous slogan, spouting self-righteously and resentfully. It’s all the fault of the EU, apparently. “They took us in, without a referendum.”
An American now living here, protesting with us, wanted to tell me how bad private medicine is. They won’t insure you for “pre-existing conditions”. If you have diabetes, you need health care for diabetes, but can’t get it. He had some condition, and was landed with a $14,000 bill. He came round after an operation, and had a $300 bill from the anaesthetist pinned to his shirt. So he said he would declare himself bankrupt, and the hospital made claims on various charitable funds, to pay their bill for him. This was the Seventies, and he is still angry, still needs to tell me. I think we should be talking to other people, but don’t see how we can.