Contractual Dispute or Vaccine Wars?

We are currently seeing much concern and indeed criticism of the EU over the issue of Astra Zeneca vaccines.

In such circumstances it is often a good idea to stand back and break the issue down into its component parts.

What we are seeing is essentially a dispute over a contract entered into between two organisations specifically the EU and Astra Zeneca for the supply of a certain product.

Astra Zeneca agreed to supply the EU with a certain amount of the product by a certain date and has now said they are unable to do so. The EU is saying that is not acceptable and is insisting that Astra Zeneca deliver what was promised in that contract.

If we were talking about an ordinary product such as pens or paper nobody would be making a fuss – but we are talking about a highly emotive subject – a vaccine in the middle of the worst pandemic in a century.

The press and our opponents are stirring things up for different reasons. The first to sell papers, the second to cynically and dishonesty advance their cause. What a surprise!

All the EU is actually attempting to do is secure supplies of a critical product for its citizens – and if it were the UK government in that situation the press and our opponents would be encouraging our government to do exactly what the EU is doing.

You can find more detail in this BBC article

Put your coat on and go and look at the Lib Dem’s from the other side of the window by Robert Braban

Lib Dem is a very tired brand. Were I still running my marketing company I might well be using Lib Dem as the best available example of ‘brand death’. A massive lift is needed.

I read a comment claiming that the Party should concentrate on selling its current USP: It doesn’t have one. However the Lib Dem message starts off, it comes across as: “We do what the other parties do, but better”.

The party has always, since I first joined in Cambridge in 1960, concentrated more on keeping a few existing members, rather than offending them and recruiting five times as many. That’s not necessarily bad: members don’t win elections. Winning is down to strong and often unique policies, and a charismatic image.

In its present state the party can forget charismatic image. In many areas it’s close to anonymous. Wholehearted commitment rather than luke-warm lip service to Rejoining the EU is probably the most electorally attractive core policy available. For the Lib Dem’s it could be salvation if put at the centre of other policies. It guarantees:

  1. Policy separation from the other parties. Viz. The missing USP!
  2. A refuge for millions of Rejoin supporters who are currently disenfranchised.
  3. Massive publicity focused on the Party bringing it back into the public eye. There would be hatred from the right wing press, but support from others. In this context, there is no such thing as bad publicity. Being reviled by the Sun, the Mail and Farage is all positive. It would mean that once again the Lib Dem’s mattered.
  4. Near endless policy food. As Brexit damage emerge it would supply the party many additional fists to punch with.

It would be a mistake to assume that SKS will sit on the fence on a permanent basis. Labour is a majority Remain party and will become more so as Brexit damage emerges. Red wall MPs are already giving Johnson a hard time and that’s because they are being hassled by their constituents. It may not be too long before the priority becomes the overall membership and not the crumbling red wall.

The Rejoin option may not be the No 1 political bargain for long. There could soon be competition for customers at which point the party might be criticised for jumping on someone else’s bandwagon”.

We are here to set the agenda not follow the agenda of others

We are here to set the agenda

The last week has been hard for us all with perhaps one of the hardest issues to deal with being the news about Starmers decision on supporting a deal and his comments about what will and will not be on the Labour Party agenda in 2024.

Since that news I’ve seen all sorts of comments in the group and on wider social media about how the Labour Party is no longer worth supporting, the Lib Dems are the same, that we should tear up membership cards, set up a new party ext etc etc.

Whilst I empathise with much of that, and even agree, my answer is that we are not here to follow the agenda of anyone, Starmer and Davey included.

We are here to SET the agenda across the political spectrum.

I could write a long article about why we need to do so – but I will save that for another time and simply rely on this old graphic showing where remain and leave support lies within the political parties.

Every single political party has both leave and remain supporters within it, and you can guarantee 100% that leave supporters within each party will be actively trying to keep rejoin off the agenda of their party.

That is why we must work towards setting the agenda on EU membership in ALL political parties – and that will stay the same even if we start our own party as the existing parties will not just go away just because we start our own.

We must establish strong pro European communities within all political parties and push forward our agenda within them which needs to include putting motions forward to party conferences on issues that will help us achieve our goals and indeed to put rejoining the EU itself onto the agenda.

Polical parties – a call to arms

I find this graphic very interesting as it shows where remian and leave support sits in terms of political parties. Whilst things have changed since 2016, with for example, only 19% of those who voted Remain in 2016 voting Tory last December, it does show two things very clearly.

Firstly, this shows that any Campaign to Rejoin the EU has to be cross party in nature otherwise we simply will not have the support needed to win a further referendum. This has considerable implications for what we can and cannot support as a Campaign. Anything we do support has to have broad support within the Rejoin community, meaning we must stay very focused on our primary goals and objectives that will directly help us to achieve them.

Secondly, this shows that within the support base for every party, even those considered to be pro European, there is an element that is against our EU membership. Such people will be active within all those parties trying to stop that party supporting our cause. The practical implications for us of that are that we must be active in promoting our cause, building our support within each party, and trying to get rejoin onto the agenda of all political parties.

So one of the first practical steps anyone in this group can take along the long road back to EU membership is to consider joining the party which most closely matches your views, becoming active in that party, standing for positions of influence within that party and maybe even standing for election.

A second practical step would be to join us in one of our political sub groups on Facebook which we have established to foster the pro European debate within the political parties and to help us get Rejojn and associated issues onto the agenda of each party by, for example, putting motions forward to party conferences. This would be especially important if you are already a member of a political party and know how that party works. If you hold a position of influence within that party even better.

So if you support a particular political party please help us by joining one of our Facebook political party sub-groups listed below. Links to them can be found in this post

Green Rejoin EU Group
Labour – Rejoin EU Group
Lib Dem Rejoin
Conservatives Rejoin the EU
Ailymuno Plaid Cymru Rejoin the EU
SNP Rejoin the EU
Alliance Party Rejoin the EU
SDLP Rejoin the EU

For some of these groups we are actively looking for people to join us in running and promoting them – please get in touch if you want to help. Also if the polictal party you support is not listed please get in touch and we will set up a group for you.

I know many people want to see a new single issue political party established. I will address that subject in another blog post in the next few days.

Something Fishy

Did you know that in 2017 the UK fishing fleet made around 20% of its total catch from non-UK waters?

According to official figures, out of the seven other EU Member States’ waters that the UK landed fish from the most valuable for the UK fleet were (avg. 2012 – 2016):

Ireland (65,000 tonnes, £66 million)
France (14,000 tonnes, £17 million)
Denmark (7,000 tonnes, £10 million)
The most valuable fish caught by UK vessels in other EU member state waters were: mackerel, plaice and monks/anglers.

Sourced from Marine Developments Government Blog courtesy of Phil Dunn and Clifford Capel

EU Standards

Lord Andrew Adonis – European Movement
Tell Michael Gove that downgrading on EU standards is unacceptable

The clock is ticking, and the question on everyone’s mind is will there be a Deal or No Deal?

Boris Johnson’s Government claimed that this deal was “oven-ready” but with little over a month left before we crash out of the EU the worst-case scenario of a No Deal is still not off the table. We are continuing to stand up to No Deal, because we know that it is the worst possible outcome for this country.

But we don’t just want any deal. We are demanding a good deal. We are preparing to respond to the possibility that Boris Johnson’s government achieves the hard Brexit deal they are aiming for. Such a deal would:

  • Damage our NHS and cost lives by restricting access to vital medical supplies.
  • Damage our economy by adding huge costs to businesses and costing jobs across the UK.
  • Damage our environment by firing the starting gun on a race to the bottom.
  • Damage proud British food standards and threaten our farmers’ livelihoods.

We will not know the true costs of any Brexit deal until it is reached and published. But we will stand up to any deal that threatens the rights, standards, and prosperity we have enjoyed in the EU. Anything less than what we had as part of the EU will be unacceptable.

In March 2019, Cabinet Secretary Michael Gove said that “we didn’t vote to leave without a deal.” Today, we want to remind government ministers that nobody voted for a worse deal than we had in the EU. And how better to do that than by reminding Michael Gove of what he said just last year?

Campaign to Rejoin and Political Parties

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

  1. An enquiry into the conduct of the Leave Campaign and the Brexit related activities of the May and Johnson Governments
  2. 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.
  3. 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!

Some thoughts on a way forward for the Rejoin movement

Some thoughts about the way forward for Rejoin.
There is some disagreement amongst Rejoin supporters about the timing of a campaign with many arguing now is not the time to campaign as Brexit supporters need to see the damage Brexit does. I disagree this for a number of reasons:

  1. This is essentially a rehash of what leavers called project fear. They will blame anyone and everyone other than themselves for the adverse consequences of Brexit and if they are backed into a corner they will say it is all worth it
  2. Over the last 5 years together we have built an amazing pro EU movement, the largest in the EU. We must not let this die. Doing nothing will mean that this movement will wither and die.
  3. There is much we can do now in terms of building and organising, and also laying the ground for future battles on our terms, without actually overtly campaigning for Rejoin.
  4. If I were writing a Leave Strategy for the next few years, Pushing the idea that it is too early for the Rejoin Campaign to start would be a key part of my strategy. Waiting around is playing right into the Leave Campaign’s hands. In fact its quite noticeable that non of the party leaders have said anything like now is not the time.
    So what should we do? Broadly I believe we should follow four strands of action.
  5. Challenge the legitimacy of the decision by the current Government to take out of the EU. Remain activists know many of the reasons why, but do the rest of the Electorate? I would argue they do not and we need to raise awareness of this
  6. Promote the benefits of EU membership. Why? Because it’s never really been done in a planned systematic way. As remain we spent far too much time focussing on the risks of leaving and countering the lies told by the leave campaign
  7. Those of us who are members of political parties need to promote Rejoin within those parties and other issues that help us lay the ground for that such as proper regulation of the media
  8. Develop, grow and maintain our Rejoin Movement and our European identity. We had big plans in this area, but sadly we had to curtail much due to Covid, but there is still much we can do online.

I will cover each issue in more detail in future posts. I welcome your thoughts and constructive criticism on these broad outline of a strategy


The European Parliament President, David Sassoli, has announced how the European Union will tackle the COVID-19 virus. They will do it with European nations working together, in solidarity.

In contrast, Britain thinks it can do it alone.

This is what Mr Sassoli said:

“Not since the end of the Second World War have we faced such a dramatic crisis. Today the European Union is taking action.

We had no doubt that it would.

This situation is so serious that no European government could think of responding alone.

The package of measures put forward by the European Commission today to fight COVID-19 goes in the right direction.

All European countries will receive support for their health systems.

This means the supply of materials, support to hospitals, and financing research to develop a vaccine as soon as possible.

The first priority is saving human lives.

The other commitment is to protect jobs, businesses and the economy. To do this: enough with austerity.

Countries are authorised to spend everything that is necessary to guarantee support for employees, self-employed workers, businesses, and banks.

In addition to the commitments made by member states, at least 37 billion euros is ready and available from the Union budget.

It is important to emphasise that governments will be able to use all the flexibility provided for in the Stability and Growth Pact, and that state aid will be allowed for sectors and businesses affected by the crisis.

Now the Council and Parliament must approve these first proposals. I can assure you that Parliament will do this as soon as possible.

To save our countries, we must act together in Europe. We should do more.

Today the watchword for Europe is solidarity. No one will be left alone and no one will act alone.”

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