Get Red Pepper's email newsletter. Enter your email address to receive our latest articles, updates and news.
Thousands of people took to the streets of Amsterdam for a rally against TTIP, the trade deal being negotiated between the EU and the US, earlier this month. Farmers, small businesses, environmentalists and concerned citizens joined hands in a cheerful demo and march through the city center of Amsterdam.
The numbers stood in contrast to the 60 people who turned up to the TTIP demonstration last year – so what’s changed?
The ‘loose coalition’ working on the issue has grown steadily in the last year, with environmental organisations joining as well as farmers’ unions, small businesses and one of the largest trade unions in the Netherlands. We published articles in a few large national newspapers and organised public events, where the number of people attending kept growing.
The debate about TTIP really exploded, though, after a well-known comedian made a satirical show about it on national TV. Zondag met Lubach’s show about the ‘two terrible acronyms’ TTIP and ISDS (the part of TTIP that would let corporations sue states) did what none of us had done so far: make TTIP a mainstream topic to talk about, not just a ‘technical’ issue. He created a hashtag that started trending straight away: #TTIPalarm.
At the next public debate on TTIP in Amsterdam, the vast majority of people attending said they had never heard of TTIP before the Lubach show. Some of the organisations most active on TTIP coordinated #TTIPalarm Twitterstorms to keep the discussion alive in the weeks before the international days of action. The Facebook event created for the demonstration grew quickly and was picked up by the media. Many people volunteered to help, either at the event or by disseminating flyers and posters in their towns and cities, and a Facebook group was created for people to connect and share knowledge and experiences.
A few weeks before the demo we published an op-ed on how CETA is TTIP through the back door, and then Lubach aired a second show on TTIP and its ‘smaller sister’ CETA (the EU-Canada trade treaty). He also launched the results of a new survey, commissioned by Transnational Institute, Foodwatch, Milieudefensie and SOMO, which showed that the majority of Dutch citizens who know what TTIP is are against the trade deal.
This gave our mobilisation efforts the last push, and on 10 October between 7,000 and 10,000 came to a square that was almost too small for the amount of people attending. Laurens Ivens, Amsterdam city councilor, welcomed everyone to his ‘TTIP-free city’ and Ewald Engelen, professor in financial geography from the University of Amsterdam and well-known TTIP critic, gave a passionate speech telling people not to be fooled by the Dutch trade minister saying that all the critical elements have been removed from the deal. Speeches by representatives from trade unions, environmental organisations and prominent critical politicians where followed by a cheerful march through Amsterdam city centre. Some interesting participants were representatives from small enterprises, carrying billboards stating ‘TTIP = Old Economy’, and saying that we need a new economy where sustainability and social rights are key.
Since the adoption of a ‘referendum law’ in the Netherlands earlier this year, Dutch citizens can call for a referendum by collecting 300,000 signatures. Although the outcome of the referendum is not binding it would be very unwise for parliament not to follow up on it. Milieudefensie, Foodwatch, Meer Democratie and Transnational Institute have launched an initiative for a referendum on TTIP and CETA.
The Netherlands will have the EU presidency next year, and government officials have stated that TTIP will be one of their focal points for that period. Moreover, Frans Timmermans, first vice-president and responsible for ‘Better Regulation’ in the European Commission is Dutch, and the final decision on TTIP will lie with him.
The fact that people young and old, families, political activists, environmentalists, trade unionists, farmers and small businesses marched together gave a clear message to Dutch policymakers: our rights, our health and our planet are more important than corporate interests.
Hilde van der Pas is a researcher at the Transnational Institute
Drawing connections between events as disparate as the ‘social murder’ of Grenfell and recent mudslides in Sierra Leone, Remi Joseph-Salisbury points to the enduring relevance of Pan African thought for anti-racist struggle today.
We work ourselves into the ground for little economic benefit. It's high time to for a change, writes Aidan Harper.
Deregulation and tax loopholes are justified by saying that they 'protect growth'. But really, they just protect the wealthy, writes James Fox
Inequality is often treated as a law of nature - but really, it's the result of conscious political choices. It's time to choose equality, writes the IPPR's Carys Roberts.
Tom Palmer, aka Agent Kingfisher, was the 'messiah' of London's squatting scene until his death last year. But who was responsible for his fate? MI5, late capitalism or simply a drug overdose? Matt Broomfield investigates.
'Docs Not Cops' write that we must resist attempts to make our NHS any less universal
Louis Mendee explains the real human costs of climate change for the global south.
From climate change to automation to demographic shifts, Mathew Lawrence explains the challenges our economy will face in the coming decade.
Fifty years after the Abortion Act, women are still dying from being denied basic services, write activists from Feminist Fightback
We need to tackle the patronising ideology that lets Tory think-tanks sneer at social tenants, writes Emma Dent Coad
Labour Party laws are being used to quash dissent
Richard Kuper writes that Labour's authorities are more concerned with suppressing pro-Palestine activism than with actually tackling antisemitism
Catalan independence is not just ‘nationalism’ – it’s a rebellion against nationalism
Ignasi Bernat and David Whyte argue that Catalonia's independence movement is driven by solidarity – and resistance to far-right Spanish nationalists
Tabloids do not represent the working class
The tabloid press claims to be an authentic voice of the working class - but it's run by and for the elites, writes Matt Thompson
As London City Airport turns 30, let’s imagine a world without it
London City Airport has faced resistance for its entire lifetime, writes Ali Tamlit – and some day soon we will win
The first world war sowed the seeds of the Russian revolution
An excerpt from 'October', China Mieville's book revisiting the story of the Russian Revolution
Academies run ‘on the basis of fear’
Wakefield City Academies Trust (WCAT) was described in a damning report as an organisation run 'on the basis of fear'. Jon Trickett MP examines an education system in crisis.
‘There is no turning back to a time when there wasn’t migration to Britain’
David Renton reviews the Migration Museum's latest exhibition
#MeToo is necessary – but I’m sick of having to prove my humanity
Women are expected to reveal personal trauma to be taken seriously, writes Eleanor Penny
Meet the digital feminists
We're building new online tools to create a new feminist community and tackle sexism wherever we find it, writes Franziska Grobke
The Marikana women’s fight for justice, five years on
Marienna Pope-Weidemann meets Sikhala Sonke, a grassroots social justice group led by the women of Marikana
Forget ‘Columbus Day’ – this is the Day of Indigenous Resistance
By Leyli Horna, Marcela Terán and Sebastián Ordonez for Wretched of the Earth
Uber and the corporate capture of e-petitions
Steve Andrews looks at a profit-making petition platform's questionable relationship with the cab company
You might be a centrist if…
What does 'centrist' mean? Tom Walker identifies the key markers to help you spot centrism in the wild
Black Journalism Fund Open Editorial Meeting in Leeds
Friday 13th October, 5pm to 7pm, meeting inside the Laidlaw Library, Leeds University
This leadership contest can transform Scottish Labour
Martyn Cook argues that with a new left-wing leader the Scottish Labour Party can make a comeback
Review: No Is Not Enough
Samir Dathi reviews No Is Not Enough: Defeating the New Shock Politics, by Naomi Klein
Building Corbyn’s Labour from the ground up: How ‘the left’ won in Hackney South
Heather Mendick has gone from phone-banker at Corbyn for Leader to Hackney Momentum organiser to secretary of her local party. Here, she shares her top tips on transforming Labour from the bottom up
Five things to know about the independence movement in Catalonia
James O'Nions looks at the underlying dynamics of the Catalan independence movement
‘This building will be a library!’ From referendum to general strike in Catalonia
Ignasi Bernat and David Whyte report from the Catalan general strike, as the movements prepare to build a new republic
Chlorine chickens are just the start: Liam Fox’s Brexit trade free-for-all
A hard-right free marketer is now in charge of our trade policy. We urgently need to develop an alternative vision, writes Nick Dearden
There is no ‘cult of Corbyn’ – this is a movement preparing for power
The pundits still don’t understand that Labour’s new energy is about ‘we’ not ‘me’, writes Hilary Wainwright