On Saturday 12th September we attended an event on TTIP at Leeds Civic Hall. Leeds Co-operative Party hosted a presentation and Q&A by Jude Kirton- Darling MEP.
Jude Kirton-Darling is Labour MEP for the North East of England and a member of the EU trade committee. http://www.labour4ne.org.uk/judith_kirton_darling In this role, alongside David Martin, she has a critical involvement in forming the European Parliament’s approach to TTIP negotiations.
In June, Jude Kirton-Darling was heavily criticised for her part in the International Trade Committee vote in which she voted through a compromise amendment which allowed for a form of ISDS. You can read about this – including Jude Kirton-Darling’s unsuccessful adding of an amendment that would have scrapped ISDS altogether- with analysis from various organisations and the MEP’s explanation here https://home.38degrees.org.uk/2015/06/02/ttip-trade-committee-vote/
In July, Jude Kirton- Darling, alongside most Labour MEPs (and UKIP and Green MEPs) voted against TTIP (in a non-binding vote) because it still contained ISDS. Here’s analysis of the vote in The Ecologist http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_round_up/2940274/european_parliament_ttip_vote_ignores_citizen_concerns.html
Jude Kirton-Darling’s presentation and response to Q&A showed real confidence and insight into the complexities of trade negotiations and the issues involved in them. She also showed clearly her commitment to social and environmental justice and a commitment to oppose negative aspects of TTIP. Like her colleague, Richard Corbett, Jude Kirton-Darling acknowledged that it is public pressure on TTIP that has enabled MEPs to put pressure on the European Commission about TTIP negotiations.
We’re sure that Jude Kirton-Darling is genuine. But the position of Labour MEPs, which is to oppose negative aspects of TTIP but not oppose TTIP altogether makes them potentially vulnerable to dangerous compromises. On the one hand, Jude Kirton- Darling said that she and other Labour MEPs have four ‘red lines’ on TTIP which, if crossed, will mean they will oppose the deal in the final vote. (These include threats to public services, undermining labour standards, compromising other standards and ISDS). But on the other hand, she recognised that, ultimately, the deal will include things that are good but also things that are bad and they will have to weigh up whether, overall, it would be best to oppose TTIP altogether or support TTIP altogether.
Our fear is that it is at least possible that Labour MEPs might vote through TTIP that won’t include ISDS but might include dangerous lowering of standards on fracking or won’t compromise public services but will undermine labour standards.
A TTIP that doesn’t cross Labour’s four red lines is a deal that is not recognisable as TTIP. Wouldn’t it be more straightforward to ‘Say No to TTIP’ and wouldn’t that avoid the risk of making dangerous compromises on a dangerous deal?
You can read more about our campaigning on TTIP over the past year on https://kirkleescampaignagainstclimatechange.wordpress.com/?s=TTIP