Out of borough campaigning really works
A heavily Leave district sought support from groups in Remain districts via European Movement Headquarters. Lambeth for Europe organised a response from across South West London. Patrick Nicholson from Lambeth for Europe led their team answering the call and provides this write-up.
My colleagues and I enjoyed our time and also did much valuable campaigning. The key lessons? If you are in a Leave district - or just if your group is thin on the ground - do please contact better-resourced groups in Remain districts for help. And if you are a well-resourced group in a Remain district, do please take the initiative and offer your support to groups that may need your help. It's fun and it does a great deal for the cause.
On 9th February around 45 campaigners met in Dagenham (which voted 62% Leave) to distribute leaflets calling for a People's Vote. Our Lambeth for Europe members met other London groups in a coordinated action. Those of us used to campaigning in Remain boroughs like Lambeth and Islington agreed this was a valuable use of our time. Much as it's essential to keep Brexit-resistance in full view in Remain areas, we've also staged effective actions in neighbouring boroughs with higher Leave votes. This action in Dagenham got our view over to households across one of London's most pro-Leave constituencies.
It was well-organised, the meeting point in a car park was easy to find and 5 minutes walk from the tube station. Leaflets posters and ward maps were provided, photos taken, and we were quickly in groups of 4 or 5 covering pre-selected areas. I'd say from arrival time to leaving in groups was 30 minutes. Campaigners who were not able to to walk big distances did an amazing job leafletting the tube station. In two hours we'd covered the ward thoroughly and I think others stayed on for a second stage in the afternoon. In all, an efficient way to reach out to a Leave-voting area with a relevant local message.
Practical tips I would suggest (most of which were covered by the organisers):
- meeting points should be near public transport and easy to find.
- there should be space for a small crowd of pedestrians. These coordinated actions are likely to involve bigger turnouts than local actions by one group.
- for future reference I would suggest avoiding car parks where possible. There were no mishaps on the day but 45 pedestrians where cars are moving is potentially dangerous.
- consider those less mobile as part of the action.
- consider how some people may react in strongly Leave constituencies, and for safety work in groups. There were mutually respectful chats with Leave voters in Dagenham, but our group encountered a resident who was very angry about our leaflet coming through his door, and came out shouting and swearing. There were three of us there, and we let him shout and kept walking. I would have liked to talk to him but I don't think that was the moment.
Subsequently, the MP for Dagenham Rainham, Jon Cruddas, published an article in the Guardian setting out circumstances in which a referendum could offer a degree of public consent and legitimacy for the final Brexit decision. That is the nearest he has come to supporting one. Coincidence or result?
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