An open letter to 38 degrees

02 June 2015

Dear 38 Degrees

You ran a campaign over the weekend on TTIP, the US/EU trade deal, which aimed to highlight the vote in the Trade Committee and the upcoming vote in the plenary session of the European Parliament. 

Your past campaigns, and those of similar organisations, have helped me represent people in Parliament as I have been able to show the strength of feeling about TTIP. I have made clear that I am against ISDS in TTIP, against the inclusion of public services, and against any weakening of workers’ rights.  As is often the case in politics achieving those things is not always straightforward as proved to be the case in the vote last week. As you are aware I voted for a compromise amendment in order to ensure that strong amendments on public services, labour standards and environmental protection, were included. Also, as you know we will resubmit a stronger amendment on ISDS into the plenary of the Parliament and hope that it will successfully adopted.

I don’t expect all of my constituents to be too interested in the processes in the European Parliament but make every effort when people get in touch to explain not only what I’m trying to achieve but how I’m trying to achieve it. I have increasingly come to see that your model works on presenting issues in simple binary positions of good and bad; you present a fairy-tale view of politics which often doesn’t represent the reality. I believe 38 Degrees and other similar organisations are a vital part of the online digital democratic ecosystem and you are of course able to adopt any position you wish.

However, in interacting with my constituents over the weekend I have presented a fuller and more reasoned position than the simplistic one that you offered. They have often replied saying they understand the job we are trying to do and are disappointed at the misleading one-sided picture you painted. It is politicians who are meant to be untrustworthy but you are in danger of giving us a good name.

I believe that you also have a responsibility to ensure that debates you encourage are carried out with respect. It would appear that you do not moderate your Facebook page and therefore implicitly condone the threats and offensive language that are on it. 

I must just reiterate that I am supportive of 38 Degrees and the role you play in encouraging people to be involved and interested in politics. However, I believe that you have a responsibility to be accurate in the information you share and in ensuring that any debate which follows takes place in a proper manner. In the interests of transparency I will be including this letter on my website.

Yours

Jude

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