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Let’s build Pro-European assets for the future
25 Nov, 2020

Christmas and New Year is the time when Brexit obsessions can usually be tossed aside with our work clothes, and we can settle down to focus on family, friends and our annual rituals for a few days or more.  But what about this year? It's rather different, argues Gareth Steel.

As the Brexit calamity and the urge to say “I told you so” grow stronger, it's a big temptation to turn Christmas into a festival of Schadenfreude To help you resist all that negativity, I should like to propose we begin the New Year with one fundamental resounding resolution: to focus on building up the assets which will let us take back our future.

First let’s do some positive Schadenfreude combat training. Yes, the full bad taste of Brexit is going to be in everyone’s mouths from 1 January at the latest, but that’s no reason for us to feel bitter. We’ve done all that by now. We can take some satisfaction that we didn’t just stand by and let it happen. OK, we didn’t do everything that could have been done, but we took an interest, we pointed out some of the arguments to friends and relatives, we did more than most, and we fitted some meaningful resistance work into our busy schedules. 

But next, let’s take a fresh look at what we can most usefully do when Brexit is not just a construct for the future, but is the reality of everyone’s daily life. Here Covid can for once be helpful. Arne Akbar, professor of immunology at UCL, quoted in Ian Sample’s article in the Guardian of 6 November, said that the stronger immune system in post-Covid patients is like an army that stands down after a period of dealing with threat, but which remains prepared for a future one. “You want the army to be generated again very quickly,” he said. Probably our greatest need now is not actually to campaign at all, but to build our readiness to be able to constitute a formidable campaigning force when the opportunity to deploy such a force arises.

In the short term, this means various things:

  • We need to nurture the network of groups that exists at the moment, albeit in a sort of constant state of boiling up, simmering down, and seething up again. There needs to be a backbone network of European Movement branches, ideally nationwide. But there need to be mechanisms and opportunities for those branches to work alongside and interconnectedly with other groups that share the European Movement’s ideals and values, but which in some cases choose to be detached or semi-detached, for whatever reason. I am one of the signatories to a motion at this year’s European Movement AGM to open up a process to re-examine how pro-Europeans are organised nationally. It is my hope this process can lead to a more resilient framework.
  • We need to take stock of what techniques, skills and knowledge, specific to our movement have been developed and could be mobilised again, or need to be developed more behind the scenes. As originator of the 12 regional UKPEN Google Sites that provide a framework for mapping our movement down to constituency and ward level and below (see an example page in my own Lewisham East constituency here. I would like to think that, if another public vote is called, we do not have to reinvent from scratch.
  • Most exciting of all, we need to work out NOW how to build a single Register of Groups and Individuals who are happy to go on record as favouring re-joining the EU at the earliest opportunity. The process of building up membership of the European Movement is one desirable thing that should of course continue. Building a mass database of people who can be weaned off the fence and onto our side is quite another - and can now begin. 

In the next blog in my tri-series, I shall be encouraging all local groups to adopt their constituency pages and use them as a resource where they can log their local knowledge and show where we are prepared and where we are under-prepared. The third blog will be devoted to exploring the Whys, Wherefores and Hows of the Register idea.

Gareth Steel
Co-Founder, UKPEN and co-chair, Lewisham East

London4Europe blogs are edited by Nick Hopkinson, Vice-Chair. Articles on this page reflect the views of the author and not necessarily of London4Europe.


Part 1: Let’s build Pro-European assets for the future

Part 2: The time is now to start preparing for the next public vote

Part 3: United in Diversity – Pro-Europeans should register their support!



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Andrew (Andy) Pye
published this page in Latest blogs 2020-11-25 12:07:23 +0000