First Camden New Journal, then the world
Michael Romberg, London4Europe Committee Member, writes of how much benefit we can obtain from letters to the local newspaper:
On 8 July 2019, Camden Council passed - though sadly without a debate - a resolution calling on "the Council to wholeheartedly back and campaign for the UK to remain in the European Union". Members of London4Europe and other Camden pro-EU campaign groups had helped the councillors who had put down the motion by writing to their own council members in support.
The passing of the resolution prompted the Leader of the Council, Councillor Georgia Gould, to write to the Camden New Journal of 11 July explaining why "This Labour council will stand shoulder to shoulder with our communities in fighting for a future for Britain as part of the EU.".
Not everyone was happy. A leaver wrote in to say that the 2016 referendum should be honoured because the EU was undemocratic.
The Camden New Journal of 25 July 2019 has now published my letter in response under their heading "We are European and British". You can read it below if the link does not work.
The value to campaigners of letters to the local press
In itself, my letter is pretty standard stuff. But we under-rate the value of writing to the local press. There are always Brexiters there making their case. For many people the local paper is a key source of information. Local newspapers enjoy surprisingly high levels of trust. They are also keen on letters that engage - thoughtfully, politely - with other letters or articles because it maintains interest and is, ahem, cheap copy. A bit of local colour also helps. So you have a pretty high chance of being published. Give your full name and street address (you can ask them to withhold it).
Because local papers will wish to leave a gap before publishing a further letter by the same person it is worth organising a letter-writing rota. If the paper allows comments it is worth having someone monitor those and continue the debate.
If you are looking for ideas to start your letter off or material you can use, have a look at our index of our blogs on pro-Remain themes and index of blogs by London4Europe and other organisations about a referendum.
Clem Alford [ Tony Benn was right - Camden New Journal - letters - 18 July 2019 ] criticises Camden Leader Georgia Gould's call to stay in the European Union because he believes the 2016 referendum settled the question and that the EU is undemocratic.
Yes, 2016 was a vote to Leave. But the Leave campaign deliberately did not define what "Leave" meant. Was it to create Singapore-on-Thames or socialism in one state? Should we retain strong economic and personal links with the EU as Norway does or cast off all connexion with our neighbours? Should we tie ourselves to follow the rules of the USA?
Out of the universe of possible Brexits we can leave only on one.
Until we have decided what Brexit means a decision to Leave can only be provisional. Remaining in the EU is an option until we have a concrete plan to compare it with. That's how decisions are made.
Mr Alford goes on to repeat the old errors about the undemocratic EU and appointed officials answerable to no-one. Did he really miss the European Parliament elections in May?
Camden councillor Luisa Porritt was amongst those returned in an open direct election held under proportional representation.
The new President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, is a member of the German Christian Democrat Union, part of the European Peoples's Party parliamentary group which is the largest group in the Parliament. She was proposed by the European Council - the leaders of the member states. Her appointment was approved by a vote of elected MEPs. The Commission as a whole then faces a vote when the Parliament decides whether to approve it or not. The Parliament retains the right to dismiss the Commission.
Compare how the United Kingdom found itself with a new prime minister and cabinet this week. Which is the more democratic entity?
Underlying Mr Alford's criticism is a misunderstanding.
The EU is not some imperial power, a "they". It is a bigger "we". The EU is a great project that builds a peaceful, free, democratic Europe.
Member states voluntarily pool some of their sovereignty in order to achieve by their common endeavour what they cannot deal with alone, whether that is presenting a common front to Russian aggression, standing up to tech giants or dealing with the environmental challenges that we face. It is the EU that gives us as individuals the freedom to live, work, study, retire, marry an EU citizen anywhere on this Continent without having to ask an immigration officer for permission.
We are European as well as British. The EU is part of how we realise our identity.
Articles on this page reflect the views of the author and not necessarily of London4Europe.