Part of the Yes campaign’s claim that a No vote will lead to the end of the NHS revolves around something called the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).
This inelegantly-named trade deal between the EU and the US will, say its backers, boost economic growth by increasing the “market access” of American firms into all member states, including the UK.
TTIP’s detractors in the Yes campaign say the logic of the agreement could result in rapacious, profit-making firms (I paraphrase) taking over functions currently provided by the NHS.
The anti-TTIP argument blends in nicely to the wider Yes view that various forces are plotting the long term privatisation of the NHS.
However, there is only one problem with this view, namely that the Yes campaign’s two most senior figures are on the record as supporting TTIP.
Here is what First Minister Alex Salmond said about the agreement to the Brookings Institution in Washington DC in April 2013. This was long before the SNP decided to bang the NHS drum in the referendum:
"Despite all of the current difficulties in the Eurozone, we saw a reminder of that just two months ago - with the announcement of the planned Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership between the EU and the USA. Estimates show that once this is established, the European economy will get a stimulus of half a per cent of its GDP."For Scotland, given that the USA is our largest individual trading partner outside the UK – our trade with the EU as a bloc is greater - the agreement will be especially good news."
Two months earlier, deputy First Minister used remarkably similar language to praise TTIP. Here is what she said to the European Policy Centre in Brussels.
“Earlier this month, the European Union and the USA announced that they would work to establish a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. The announcement was a reminder of the massive opportunities that European Union membership brings. President Barroso predicted that when the agreement is up and running, the European economy will get a stimulus of half a per cent of its GDP. For Scotland, for whom the USA is our largest trading partner outside the EU, such a partnership will be especially good news.”Yet, little over a year later, TTIP has gone from being “especially good news” for Scotland to a referendum bogey-man. If the First Minister raises this issue during tomorrow's TV debate, perhaps he should be reminded of his earlier comments.