Flying start for SP candidate Jessica van Ruitenburg in Rotterdam election debate

17 May 2009

Flying start for SP candidate Jessica van Ruitenburg in Rotterdam election debate

Heated debates are a feature of election campaigns, and Jessica van Ruitenburg, number six on the SP list for the European elections, made a flying start in Rotterdam last Friday when she took part in two of them, back-to-back. Each, however, had very much its own character....

Jessica van RuitenburgThe first debate was organised by Rotterdam City Council. In addition to the candidates, the leaders of each of the Council's political groups participated at various points in the debate. The large number of participants provided a dynamic ninety minutes of discussion.

Jessica van Ruitenburg pointed to some of the problems brought about by the EU's dedicated neoliberalism: “Compulsory tendering imposed by Europe is a disaster. It means we can't distribute school books free of charge. And look at the mess it's made of home care. This kind of tendering means that nothing is taken into account except the costs. The client is forgotten and if they have three home visits per week, it can be from three different home helps."

Theo Coskun, chair of the SP group in City Hall, talked of the difficulties caused by the EU's insistence on unregulated labour migration: “We shouldn't think that the Polish people working here now will all return to Poland. My Slovakian neighbours have certainly no intention of going home. So we shouldn't be making the same mistakes as we did in the past in relation to Turkish and Moroccan migrant workers and simply leave them to their fate.”

Van Ruitenburg: “This 'freedom' to go and live and work wherever you want to in Europe is an illusory freedom. Labour migration is almost always a result of poverty.”

In the evening Jessica van Ruitenburg went on to a debate organised by the European Youth Council. Discussion centred on a metaphor: a campsite which must cooperate with other campsites in the neighbourhood. Once upon a time six campsites started to do so. Now there are twenty-seven and regulating things amongst themselves has not got any easier. Whenever two campsites veto a proposal the fat is in the fire. What should they do? Carry on regardless, in the hope that the two dissidents will come into line?

“The campsite council should pay more attention to the campers," said Van Ruitenburg. In a reference to the 2005 referendum result, which rejected the European Constitution (since reborn as the Lisbon Treaty), she said that “when 61.6 per cent of them don't want something, then the Campsite Council must respect that and not try to continue with the proposal surreptitiously. Moreover, the Campsite Council should not interfere with the way separate campsites are run. Of course, agreements can be made about matters which affect all campsites, such as excess smoke from barbecues. But whether these barbecues are vegetarian or meat, the campsites can surely decide for themselves.”

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