Chair's message to members 29 October 2018
Dear Member and Supporter
I am still buoyed up by the march and I hope that you are too. That was one of the two slogans that summed it up for me. It showed the absolute reasonableness of the protestors - so different from the violent language we hear from Brexiters. And of course it epitomises for what we are campaigning just now: obtaining the right to another vote.
The other slogan was aimed less at campaigners and more at the electorate as a whole: "Once more, with facts". It is depressing how far that message is from landing with many voters. The country is still at half and half, with many Leave voters still believing in the dream that is Brexit. In part that is because the political leadership of both main parties has not yet levelled with the electorate about the realities of Brexit. Moreover, for many people Brexit is a second order issue to be used for something that is more important to them: SNP for Scottish independence, Sinn Fein for a united Ireland, Jeremy Corbyn to get into government.
So for now it is down to us. What I would ask is that all of us step up our campaigning as we persuade the public and MPs that we need a People's Vote. The time-table for the meaningful Parliamentary vote seems to be slipping into late December or January. Christmas is more appealing to think about. But the arrival of mince pies on supermarket shelves really just makes clear to us how little time we have and what we are competing with when we call on the attention of voters who just wish it would all go away.
I am sorry to ask this of you. None of us wanted this. We took the UK's EU membership for granted. That was a mistake. Now we have to work hard to keep it. It means sacrificing time, effort and money that we would rather spend on our families, friends, jobs, hobbies and interests. But the investment we make now will pay a huge dividend for the country, for Europe, for ourselves and especially for our children.
The single most important action is to meet your MP
A meeting is many times more effective than a letter. Each MP should be hearing from many of their constituents that a People's Vote is the way forward. Only if you are 100% certain that your MP will vote for a referendum with Remain as an option (Tom Brake, say) should you confine yourself to writing in support. So e-mail or telephone your MP now to arrange a meeting. Get together with friends or the local EM branch. Even getting the MP to set up a large public meeting where you can ask a question would be worthwhile. Be persistent. It does not matter how fixed the MP's views have been or even whether they are in the Government. In the crisis that is coming each MP will have to make up their own mind on what to do. We will provide a briefing note later to help you prepare. In the meantime the website has an indexed list of reference material about the referendum.
In addition, write to your MP
If you have written before, write again (find the address here). And then again when the dates for the votes are set. Make the case for the referendum. For Labour MPs explain why a general election cannot resolve Brexit. There is a model letter here to get you started.
Take to the streets
MPs will react to personal contact. But they also look at the opinion polls. So we have to keep on influencing the public. That means getting out on the streets. Our moment will come once the Brexit plan is settled and Leave voters can no longer project their own idea of Brexit onto the future. There will only be the Government's Brexit. That will reduce support. We need to have laid the groundwork for that day. It means reaching people who do not normally think about politics. That is why leafleting High Streets and shopping centres and talking to people there is so effective.
Your local EM branch will be campaigning as will other anti-Brexit organisations - this is no time for rivalry between groups. If you are not already active in the branch, now is the time to join in. London4Europe complements branches - we do not substitute for them. Write to your councillor, call for a Borough Council resolution for a people's Vote. Write to your local newspaper (it might be online only) - an underutilised resource; do the research, rebut the claims made there by leavers. Our website publishes lots of blogs and other material to help provide arguments and text that you can recycle and make your own. Urge individuals to sign up as members/ supporters of Remain organisations and political parties. Buy some leaflets from the EM HQ shop and distribute them to homes nearby.
Be active on the national scene
You can also write to the national newspapers and the Evening Standard (send us your published letters and we will post them). Engage on social media. Best places are not the political forums which attract committed voters who will not change their minds, and which can be rather unpleasant places. But rather see what you can very gently drop in to places where people are not thinking about politics at all. It is the uncommitted voter whom we have to reach.
Find your chequebook
It all costs money. No-one other than enthusiasts like us is going to provide it. So choose the groups with which you feel most affinity and help them by joining as paying members where available and making donations:
- the European Movement has a small professional staff and provides premises to other Remain bodies. We welcome new members as well as donations.
- our partner organisations Scientists for Europe and NHS against Brexit (formerly Healthier IN) are very active especially on social media.
- There are organisations that target young people: Young European Movement, Our Future our Choice, For our Future's Sake, EU Supergirl Madeleina Kay (Alba White Wolf).
- The People's Vote campaign will decide its next steps in part depending on how much money it has.
- The Good Law Project undertakes Brexit-related (and other) litigation.
- The Liberal Democrat and Green Parties are for Remain and a referendum on the terms. Greens have a friends scheme if you wish to show solidarity with their EU stance but not commitment to the party as a whole; Liberal Democrats are planning to set up a supporters scheme and you can pre-register here.
- Some Conservative and Labour MPs are for Remain and a referendum on the terms and you could give to their local Conservative/ Labour parties.
- There are organisations for members and supporters of the Labour and Conservative parties that are campaigning to change their parties' stance to be more pro-EU, though you will wish to check just what that actually means: Labour against Brexit/ Labour4EU, Remain-Labour, Labour for a People's Vote, Conservative Group for Europe, Citizens for Britain/ Tories against Brexit.
- There are other national and local Remain bodies which will have come to your notice.
I have been tremendously impressed by the initiative, energy and commitment of London4Europe members and supporters. I have met people who are out on the streets most weekends, engaging with voters and organising their fellow members in the local EM branches to promote the cause. Most of us have dipped into and out of active campaigning, sometimes doing more, sometimes not so much. Some of us have held back, perhaps not knowing where to start (contact your local branch - they will help you get going; Best for Britain have published a range of campaign resources including a campaigner's handbook with useful tips).
Now is the time to get stuck in. "Say not 'the struggle naught availeth' ". I suggest you start by drawing up your personal campaigning goals for the next three months.
This e-mail sets out the personal views of the author and does not necessarily reflect the views of London4Europe.
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