Newsletter - 7 December 2018
Dear Member or Supporter
We are coming up to the meaningful Parliamentary Vote. In all, 14 boroughs have passed resolutions in favour of the People's Vote (referendum on the terms of Brexit with the option to Remain) and are on our Gold Roll of Honour. Their decisions will be an influence on their boroughs' MPs.
There are 32 boroughs, plus the City, so 33 authorities. Of these, five voted Leave in 2016; 28 Remain. So exactly half of boroughs that voted Remain have passed a resolution in favour of a People's Vote - as well as the Mayor of London and the London Assembly.
The glory belongs to the councillors who spoke out and voted for a People's Vote, in many cases going against the national policy of their party. However, I congratulate all L4E members and supporters who helped to achieve that result by encouraging and supporting councillors to come out for a People's Vote through letters and street campaigning. Without your action this result would not have been achieved.
Apart from Newham (10 December - no Brexit item on agenda), the City (10 January 2019) and Hillingdon (17 January 2019), meetings of Councils that have yet to pass a People's Vote resolution do not really get going again until 23 January 2019 and several councils are not having their next meeting until February 2019. It is not clear how quickly things will move at the national level after the Meaningful Parliamentary Vote on 11 December 2018. So we do not know whether a council motion in January will still be relevant.
However national political developments may make council resolutions for a People's vote more likely. For example, if Theresa May's deal is voted down the City of London will need to rethink its support for the deal. If Labour fails to obtain a general election, those Labour authorities who held back from backing a People's Vote on that score will be free to call for one.
Therefore, depending on what happens at the national level with the Meaningful Vote it may be worth campaigning for your council to take action. In particular, if the deal is voted down, then if you live or work in the City, it would be worth calling on your Common Council members to put down a resolution for the meeting on 10 January calling for a People's Vote. Given the Christmas break and the need to give notice of resolutions they would really have to put a motion down in the days after the meaningful vote, albeit without knowing where national politics would be on the day of the meeting.
In the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea the sole Liberal Democrat Councillor Linda Wade succeeded in agreeing with Labour minority group leader Robert Atkinson that he would second her motion calling for an urgent debate on a People's Vote. At the meeting on 5 December the Mayor decided to take that debate at the conclusion of business. When all other business finished at 22.00 the Conservative majority group declined to extend the meeting to allow a debate to take place. Nonetheless a big thank you to all members and supporters in EM HKCF who wrote to their councillors asking for a debate and who supported Linda Wade.
LB Islington on Thursday 6 December considered a motion put down by the sole opposition Councillor Caroline Russell (Green). There had been a local press article beforehand about EM Islington IN Europe and Caroline. On the day there was a small rally outside the Council House of local Greens, Liberal Democrats, Islington IN Europe and London4Europe. Her motion called straightforwardly for a People's Vote. She spoke of the rise in hate crime and remembered the murder of Jo Cox MP. She saw a key task for politicians as being to knit together again our society that had been fractured by the referendum. She emphasised the need to deal with the causes of the Leave vote: austerity, inequality. She explained that a general election could not resolve Brexit: First Past the Post meant that only a few swing voters in marginal seats determined the outcome; elections were fought on every issue, not just one. Unfortunately, Labour's amendment was carried with the votes of the whole Labour group present. It kept in the praise for the work of EM Islington IN Europe and others in supporting local EU nationals. In a reminder of Jeremy Corbyn's pro-Brexit stance the amendment deleted the statement in Caroline's motion that the Prime MInister's deal was worse than Remain. The amendment inserted a call for a general election and that only if Parliament voted down the deal. If a general election was not called, all options should remain on the table, including a public vote. However, in a departure from Labour's national policy they did say that Remain should be an option. So the borough goes onto our silver list. Our thanks to Caroline Russell for her work in making sure that Islington Council debated the central issue in politics today. And thank you to all L4E and Islington IN Europe members who campaigned for the motion.
Roll of Honour
Gold: for local authorities that have come out for a People's Vote on any deal/ a bad deal and normally explicitly with a Remain option: LB Hammersmith & Fulham, LB Ealing* (position re-affirmed by the leader after the local elections), London Assembly*, LB Richmond upon Thames, LB Merton, Mayor of London, LB Tower Hamlets, LB Lewisham, LB Lambeth, LB Waltham Forest, LB Hounslow*, RB Greenwich*, LB Camden, RB Kingston-upon-Thames, LB Redbridge, LB Brent
* Explicit Remain option not formally part of resolution
Silver: For the local authority that has come out for all options to be on the table including a public vote if there is no general election. Remain should be an option in that public vote: LB Southwark, LB Islington.
Bronze: For the local authority that has come out for all options to be on the table including a public vote if there is no general election and with no commitment to Remain being an option: LB Haringey
Campaigns in the Boroughs
Please write to your councillors (model letter in the blog) in these Boroughs. (All boroughs voted Remain in 2016 except where stated; dates of full council meetings to January 2019 - for some councils the next meeting is not until February):
- Conservative controlled: Hillingdon (Voted Leave in 2016, now Remain*; Council meeting 17 January), Kensington & Chelsea (Council meeting 23 January), Wandsworth and Westminster (Council meeting 23 January)
- Labour controlled: Barking & Dagenham (voted Leave 2016; now probably Remain*; Assembly meeting 30 January), Croydon (Council meeting 28 January), Enfield (Council meeting 30 January), Hackney (call on the directly elected Mayor and his Cabinet to make a formal public statement in support to be endorsed at the 23 January 2019 Council meeting), Harrow, Newham (Council meeting 10 December (no Brexit item on agenda); write to the directly elected mayor as well as your councillors).
- Liberal Democrat controlled: LB Sutton (Council meeting 28 January; Sutton voted Leave 2016, now Remain*; it is the only Liberal Democrat controlled Council in London that has not yet come out formally for a People's Vote).
- No overall control (Conservatives largest group): Havering (Voted Leave in 2016, still Leave*; Council meeting 23 January)
* Assessment of present status is based on Survation's borough level analysis of polling, November 2018 and more background here
If you live * or work * in the City
The City has an unusual franchise where some businesses have a vote, so anyone who lives or works in the City should feel entitled to lobby their Council Members. Please write to your ward Alderman and Common Councilmen. The model letter is here - do explain what your connexion to the City is if it is not obviously your home; and adapt the terminology - you should refer to Members rather than Councillors, and the decision-making body is the Court of Common Council. You can use this page on the City website to find your Members or use Writetothem with the relevant postcode. There are Common Council meetings set for: 6 December 2018 (no Brexit item on the agenda) and 10 January 2019.
How to Campaign
The Meaningful Vote in Parliament is set for 11 December. But there may well be more votes perhaps stretching into January. So even if the earliest meeting at which you could obtain a debate in full Council is not until January it would still be worth campaigning. However, If the next Council meeting is not until January you should ask that the Leader (Directly Elected Mayor in the case of Hackney and Newham) and Cabinet now issue a formal public declaration on behalf of the Council which should be endorsed by the full Council at its next meeting.
- write to your ward councillors (model letter in the blog), the leader of the council and the leaders of the Green, Labour and Liberal Democrat groups
- write to your local newspaper - an under-utilised resource - you can take inspiration from the model letter to councillors in the blog (please send us links to your published letters)
- if your MP is a supporter of the People's Vote ask her/ him to call on the Council to come out for a People's Vote
- ask your friends and neighbours to follow steps 1 - 3
- tell us what you are doing and the progress made, e.g. commitments to table motions - E-mail: [email protected]
You can then take your campaign to a higher level in your Borough with these steps:
- get involved with your local EM branch
- contact other Remain groups in the borough and ask them to mobilise their members
- meet your councillors, the leader of the council/ directly elected mayor (Hackney & Newham) and the leaders of the Green, Labour and Liberal Democrat groups
- ask a public question at a Council meeting - they will have a guide on their democracy pages
- launch a formal petition to the Council - they will have a guide on their democracy pages
- street campaigning with your EM local branch or other Remain organisation
And afterwards, please remember your thank-you and follow-through letters to councillors and in the local press.
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The contents of this newsletter reflect the views of the author and not necessarily of London4Europe