A few days ago I outlined a high level strategy as a way forward for the Rejoin movement.
Given the current news coverage and speculation concerning the views of Starmer and Davey on rejoining the EU, I thought it appropriate to return to the subject and expand a little on point three of that high level strategy, which was for those of us who are members of political parties to promote Rejoin within those parties and other issues that lay the ground for that.
The news concerning Starmer and Davey really does highlight the need for this, particularly against the background of increasing calls for a single issue Rejoin party to be established that I have seen in the last few days.
This is an issue that our team have been discussing since last December when we first set this group up and started to develop the Campaign to Rejoin. Initially, after consulting with members, we agreed that it would be best to wait and see what happens with the new leadership and use the intervening time to investigate establishing a new political party.
Establishing a new political party in itself is not particularly difficult or expensive. There are few requirements such a leader has to be nominated and accounts have to be kept to a certain standard and submitted every year (which is ultimately the reason why Furhage set up the Brexshit party as a limited company), but perhaps the most onerous requirement is that the party must convince the electoral commission that it intends to participate in elections – and that’s where the problems and indeed costs, start.
Participating in elections means costs and also a need to adhere to various rules and laws and therefore requires a certain level of funding and expertise, which in turn means more costs.
There are many arguments in favour and against establishing a new single-issue party, not least this need for funding and costs, with perhaps the most common one being the potential for splitting the anti-Johnson and pro EU vote (I’ll explain why I say anti Johnson rather than anti Tory a little later).
Given those arguments and the costs etc. associated with establishing a new party, together with the fact that the next general election is probably around 4 years away, a more pragmatic approach would be to push for Rejoin to be placed onto the agenda of all political parties that have a realistic chance of having MPs elected at the next general election, along with other policies that would help us in our efforts to rejoin, specifically
- An enquiry into the conduct of the Leave Campaign and the Brexit related activities of the May and Johnson Governments
- Stronger regulation of the press and other media to ensure accurate reporting and the prevention on fake news and a requirement for all news organisations to adopt a politically neutral stance during elections referendum campaigns.
- Regulation of advertising by political parties to stop the false advertising such as that undertaken by the leave campaign in 2016 and the Tory party last December.
In addition to these issues there is also the question of changes to the electoral system, however given the cross-party nature of the Remain now Rejoin movement, we need to be very careful to retain cross party neutrality or we could lose support. Whilst I personally am in favour of electoral reform, I am cautious about pushing for it as a campaign goal as it may prove controversial given our need tombs cross party. This is something that we need to discuss as a movement.
As a Campaign we therefore need to be pushing for these issues to be on the agenda of all political parties, including putting forward motions for party conferences.
Furthermore, we need to set the agenda, not follow the agenda of others in the hope that they might just, if we support them, maybe, possibly agree to another referendum.
Another reason to push for Rejoin to be on the agenda of the political parties is that it is a certainty that groups like Labour Leave will be doing their best to keep it off and to place staying out onto the agenda.
To help achieve this we have therefore set up sub groups for the Labour party, the Lib Dems and the Greens for members of those parties, with the aim of promoting and pushing for our cause within those parties. This should include putting forward motions to party conferences.
If you a member of one of those parties please do join the relevant sub-group. You can find details within the group announcements and I will place links to them in the comments.
If you are a supporter of one of those parties, but not a member I would encourage you not only to join the relevant sub-group but also to join the party itself to help advance our cause.
Obviously, there are other pro EU political parties that have the potential to have seats in the House of Commons after the next GE such as the SNP, Plaid, the SDLP and the Alliance. If you are a member or supporter of those parties and would like to help us establishing groups for those parties please get in touch.
Which brings me on to a difficult subject, but one that really does need addressing. Pro EU Tories.
Like it or not it is a fact that 35% of those who voted Remain in 2016 voted Tory in the 2015 General Election. Whilst that figure has fallen quite considerably since, 19% of remain voters in 2016 voted for the Tory party last December. This is why I referred to the anti-Johnson vote earlier rather than the anti-Tory vote.
In other words, 1 in 5 Remainers are Tories. The fact is if we are ever going to retake our place in the EU we need their votes.
We have therefore helped establish a Conservative Rejoin group to encourage pro EU Tories. It is very small currently, but If we are to be successful, we need to help that group grow and get their message out to other pro EU Tories. I will post a link to that group in the comments as well. As much as you may disagree and dislike the Tories, please respect the fact that they are trying to help us achieve our goals. Indeed, they share our main goal of regaining our rightful place in the EU.
When it comes to a new political party, there are two scenarios where I can see a need to establish one, and the first of these relates to pro EU Tories, many of whom may well feel politically homeless at present. A new party would provide a home for them.
The other scenario is where we simply cannot get our objectives onto the agenda of the political parties, in which case we may well have no choice.
So, particularly if you are one of those people who argue that a new party will split the pro EU vote, please help us get our agenda onto the agenda of the political parties!