NOW that Nicola Sturgeon is leader of the SNP and will today become the new First Minister, she brings with her a pledge to create a healthy economy and strong public services.

In particular, she has vowed the NHS will be her "daily priority" as she works to protect and improve it.

If a healthy economy and a strong NHS really are priorities, and there is no reason to doubt this, then Ms Sturgeon needs to also pay daily attention to a grey cloud heading this way, which may not just dampen her aspirations, but wash them right away.

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), the world's biggest trade deal, now being negotiated between the European Union and America, could threaten the authority of the Scottish Government and Scottish Parliament to freely exercise their powers.

TTIP is not really about increasing trade by reducing taxes on imports and exports. It is a transfer of power away from government to big business on a scale that has not been seen before, giving corporations the power to sue governments if their policies threaten profits, even when those government policies exist to protect people and their health.

The Scottish Government under Alex Salmond appeared to have swallowed the optimistic predictions for economic growth and jobs from TTIP. Ministers repeated the line that TTIP would deliver significant economic benefits. Indeed, while still Deputy First Minister, Ms Sturgeon said in a speech last year TTIP would be "especially good news" for Scotland.

On the other hand they have now started to worry about the risks to the NHS from this aggressively neo-liberal trade deal, given that the Scottish Government itself and all the political parties at Holyrood have made it clear they want to protect the NHS from privatisation. They are right to worry about the threats to the NHS, and indeed all public services, posed by TTIP.

Under the deal, the partial privatisation of the NHS would be opened up to American health corporations who would in future be able to claim compensation for lost profits if they judged, for example, that public health policies threatened their profits. And any attempts by a government to regain public control over privatised parts of the NHS could be subject to arbitration action, outside of the European court system, by companies fearing loss of business.

Despite the Scottish Government having called for "cast iron assurances" that the NHS in Scotland could be kept safe from these threats, the UK Government cannot give this. They are not prepared to exclude NHS services because they believe our health services are a world class resource they want to open to competition. They feel the same about education. Under TTIP, the partial privatisation of the Scottish NHS would be locked in, and future governments could face law suits if they tried to reverse this.

But public services are only one part of the problem. The Scottish Government also needs to look again at those predictions on economic growth and jobs from TTIP. What they show is far from good news for Scotland.

A recent, peer-reviewed paper from Tufts University, in the US, made dire predictions about the long-term impact of the deal. The paper predicts Europe could lose nearly 600,000 jobs (more than the job losses in the crisis years of 2010 and 2011) and that over 10 years the average worker in Britain would be more than £3,300 worse off as a result of lower wages.

The same paper also suggests greater exposure to fluctuations in the American economy, together with losses in jobs and lower tax take, would lead to higher government deficits and the greater use of austerity policies.

There is a growing movement of opposition to TTIP across Scotland, which includes many of those who joined the mass movement for constitutional reform.

This is a battle between big business and democracy. If Ms Sturgeon truly wants a healthy economy and strong public services, then she must be on the side of democracy. Her government must oppose TTIP and demonstrate a robust counterweight to Westminster's enthusiasm for it.