Remain and Rejoin Unicorns

Remainers and now Rejoiners often talk about Leavers wanting their sunlit uplands filled with rainbow coloured Brexit unicorns. Often this colourful narrative appears to have its roots in the lack of knowledge demonstrated by Leavers when they discuss the EU and how it works which rarely bears any resemblance to reality.

On other occasions, this narrative stems from a failure by Leavers to appreciate the realities of a world where Britain is no longer a superpower that can get its own way with the use of gunboat diplomacy. For example,  in a world where the EU has arguably the largest economy in the world, the EU does not ‘need us more than we need them’ and we do not ‘hold all the cards’ in any particular set of trade negotiations, especially those with the EU.

Whilst Remainers/Rejoiners have a much more realistic concept of the UK’s position in the world post Brexit and indeed are often far more knowledgeable about the EU, this does not necessarily mean that there are no Remain or Rejoin unicorns running around in our version of those same sunlit uplands.

Possibly the best example of this to date has been the idea floating around for most of last year that Starmer was just biding his time and had some sort of cunning Baldrick style plan up his sleeve to get us back into the EU. I lost count of the number of times I heard people say give Starmer a chance, or he has to win round his own people or once he has won the election he will take us back in to the EU.

With hindsight most of the Remain/Rejoin community now recognise just how wrong those hopes were with the reality of the situation really hitting home when he instructed his MP’s to vote in favour of Johnson’s deal over Christmas.  

But for many months this was our very own unicorn running happily around our own version of those same sunlit uplands. Consequently, the issue of Labours position on EU membership is only now becoming apparent and for many months we as a movement did nothing to advance our cause within the Labour party. Worse, during that time we also allowed our opponents free reign within the party and we are now faced with the very difficult task of bringing the Labour Party back over to our way of thinking on the issue of EU membership.   

Given the difficulty we will face with that task as our opponents now appear to be very well entrenched in positions of power within the Labour party,  it is important that we do not make similar mistakes in the future. Sadly, however there are one or two other Remain/Rejoin unicorns running around.

Perhaps the foremost of these is the notion that somehow an alliance of progressive parties will be formed to sweep away all opposition before us, including the current Tory Government. For our movement, this notion is concerning in two ways.

Firstly, it ignores the important issue of the cross-party nature of our movement. 35% of Remain voters in 2016 voted Tory the previous year, and although that figure had fallen dramatically by December 2019, nearly one in five Remainers voted Tory in the December 2019 General Election. Put bluntly, a significant proportion of our own support base does not want to see a progressive alliance.

Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, this notion assumes that Starmer will wish to become involved in a progressive alliance of some sort. Why would he? For Starmer and his advisors to be interested in such a proposition they would need to be of the opinion that the only way they could win an election was as part of such an alliance. Why would they think that?  

The Labour party is a major political force in this country with considerable resources, a developed infrastructure and an entrenched political support base. They will think they can win on their own right up until the moment the result of the next General Election is announced.       

Similarly, another Remain/Rejoin unicorn is that all we need to do is persuade the Labour Party to embrace PR and change the electoral system and all will be well, as in the General Election after next, pro-European parties will sweep into power.

Again, I would ask the same question. Why would Starmer and the Labour Party change an electoral system that gives them an advantage? Yes, PR may be a fairer way of electing a Government, but there are valid arguments against PR and very strong reasons why both our main parties would wish to keep the current system unchanged.

It may well prove possible to persuade the Labour party that they should commit to changing our electoral system however we need to be realistic. There will be significant opposition. Furthermore,  given the cross-party nature of the Remain/Rejoin movement, many of our own supporters will be opposed to any such change meaning we would risk alienating large sections of our own support base by supporting such a change.    

Another example of a Remain/Rejoin unicorn is the popular idea within our movement that Leave voters will all of a sudden see sense because of the tremendous damage that Brexit is inflicting upon us.

That Brexit will inflict such damage is beyond doubt, indeed considerable damage has already been done. The issue however is linking that damage to Brexit in the minds of Leavers, particularly against the background of the pandemic. The pandemic will mask much of that damage and make its cause difficult to ascribe. After nearly three months elapsing since the end of the transition period there is no sign of a major shock to the economy that is directly and clearly attributable to Brexit.

Frankly I do not think we will see such a shock, rather, what we will witness is slow inexorable economic decline. That doesn’t mean to say that a shock will not happen, or that it has to be economic. The break-up of the Union via Scottish Independence could cause such a shock and we may shortly find out how likely that is with approaching Sottish elections.

But even if we see Scottish independence, I am far from convinced that will provide the required shock. Rather disparagingly we often refer to Leavers as ‘Little Englanders’. Whilst we should not be so disparaging there is possibly some truth in such remarks. Looking over data from the last census I noticed that the only areas in the UK where a majority of people declared themselves to be British were certain areas of Northern Ireland with the majority of people in England describing themselves as English.

That makes me wonder just how many Leavers really would be concerned about Scottish Independence to the extent that it changed their views on Brexit.  

The upshot of all of this is that we must be realistic.

We cannot count on the Labour Party suddenly coming over to our way of thinking on Europe, or riding to our rescue as part of a progressive alliance or by supporting PR. If we want the Labour Party to support EU membership, we must work to change their views inside the party and outside.  

Similarly, we cannot count on Leavers changing their views and coming round to our way of thinking because of any adverse effects of Brexit. If we want Leavers to change their views and support EU membership, we must work to change their views by promoting the benefits of EU Membership.

There are no sunlit uplands in our journey back to EU membership, just hard work. Unicorns, rainbow coloured or not, have no place in the Rejoin movement.

Endless Lockdown doesn’t have to mean Endless Frustration

Over the last few weeks I have seen many people commenting on social media in a manner that indicates that they are quite frustrated about what they see as a lack of “campaign” action towards achieving our goal of Rejoining the EU.

This has made me wonder what people think of when someone mentions the word “campaign”?

For me, when I started the Facebook group “Campaign to Rejoin the EU” on that awful evening in December 2019, I’m not quite sure exactly what I had in mind, but I probably envisaged activities such as marches protests and other large outdoor events. Given the background of the Remain movement, I suspect many other Rejoiners had, or indeed still have, the same vision.

There are a number of reasons why this hasn’t happened, and indeed cannot currently happen. Funding is one, but the biggest by far is the worst pandemic for a century, which for all intents and purposes, has prevented any large-scale events from happening and probably will do for some time to come.

I suspect this is where much of the frustration originates.

Given this I thought I would look up the definition of the word “campaign”. The definition in my dictionary is “an organized course of action to achieve a goal.”

This definition very much reminds me of my time as a marketing communications manager where most of my work revolved around planned and highly organised promotional campaign projects that had one of three goals:

  1. Raising awareness of the company or Brand
  2. Promotion of our Brand Values
  3. Increasing sales either generally or of a particular product.

At the start of each campaign, we would hold what we termed a “launch team” meeting to identify and plan what needed to be done which included brainstorming promotional ideas as budgets would vary and would sometimes be very limited, meaning we couldn’t rely on having the money to advertise on TV or in the Press.

Some of the activities we came up with were really quite creative. We spent several very interesting mornings handing chocolates out with brochures to rush-hour commuters on Liverpool Street Station, we played Scalextrics with journalists for an evening, and we produced a short video based upon men behaving badly.

However, before we could do any of these more exciting activities, we often had to consider what mundane background work needed doing before we could start putting the actual ‘campaign’ into effect.

Indeed, I remember one occasion where the high value and very different nature of a new product meant that we could not actually start selling the product for several months as we had to put in a whole new infrastructure for handling customer enquiries. This included a new telephone enquiry handling team, a new section of our website and underlying IT infrastructure, the recruitment of a new administration team and extensive training for selected people in our sales team to be able effectively sell this new product. In other words, we had to prepare the ground before we could actually start promoting and selling the product.

This is very much where the Rejoin campaign is now. We have to prepare the ground for the forthcoming battles and we have to be creative and realistic about which campaign activities we can undertake given our lack of funding and the restrictions caused by the pandemic.

We also have to be realistic about timescales – the earliest opportunity for a new referendum is at least 4 years away, possibly longer, given who currently occupies number 10. However, whilst we may not be in a position to march on Parliament demanding an immediate referendum in our millions as we did just a short time ago, we can still ‘campaign’ – and there is much that needs to be done!

We have to recognise that whilst we are already ‘sold’ on the idea of Rejoining, many of the wider electorate need convincing that we should. This requires us to prepare the ground by putting into place the infrastructure such as websites and social media channels to enable us to communicate with the wider electorate rather than just ourselves in our closed social media bubbles.

In exactly the same way that it was necessary for myself and my colleagues to raise awareness of the company we worked for and promote our brand values before we could promote and sell our products, the first objective for Rejoin needs to be raising awareness of our ‘organisation’, our objectives and to communicate our values to the wider electorate. Effectively we need to explain the reasons why we want to rejoin the EU to the wider electorate before we can start promoting another referendum and actually campaigning for their votes.

Whilst we may not be able to run events that involve large public gatherings, we are only really limited in what we can do by our own imagination. There is nothing to stop us working towards our goals in other ways such as running online mini-campaigns that prepare the ground for mass public events and the actual campaign to Rejoin in a few years’ time.

• We can reinforce our European identify with campaigns such as our #IAmEuropean campaign linked to next months census.
• We can organise parliamentary petitions such as the successful recent petition calling for it to be made a criminal offence for MPs to mislead constituents which send a clear message to the leave campaign that their devious and dishonest activities will not be tolerated next time.
• We can start building online pro EU communities within all the major political parties with a view to placing Rejoin firmly onto their agenda.

We simply have to be creative about what we do until we are in a position to campaign in more traditional ways. We need to start coming up with ideas and there is no limit.

These ideas do not need to be complex but do need to be varied as we are all different and not everyone will be comfortable undertaking all activities. For example, I am not particularly comfortable being videoed or working street stalls. Others are. We each need to work to our strengths. One of my strengths is writing, and not just blogging. I regularly contribute to social media groups in my local area and write letters to the local paper. It may not sound much but people do take notice.

Recently on a local Facebook page I posted about a controversial EU linked issue. An acquaintance in the local area, who I am 90% sure voted leave, said to me shortly afterwards that whilst he had started to agree with much that I have been saying, he disagreed with me on that particular issue. I had no idea that he was even reading what I was saying, let alone that he was beginning to accept my arguments and change his mind!

Despite the pandemic, people are prepared to listen to what we have to say and it is possible to change minds. There are other ways of getting our message across than mass gatherings. So instead of getting frustrated that we cannot march en masse to Parliament, let’s all think about something that we can do as individuals that will move us towards our goals.

Sign a petition, sign up for the #IAmEuropean campaign, join a political party and promote EU membership in that party, write letters to the local press, contribute to local social media groups, run a social media group or channels. The list really is endless.

Yes the pandemic is frustrating, but there is so much we can do towards Rejoining.

Rejoin Needs to get its Act Together

Sadly, hardly a day goes by without coming across some sort of argument between Rejoiners.

These arguments are almost always based upon some form of party political or ideological disagreement. Everyone seems to want to attack Tory Rejoiners, Starmer supporting Rejoiners want to attack Corbyn supporting Rejoiners and vice versa, Scottish Nationalist Rejoiners want to attack Scottish Unionist Rejoiners and vice versa. The list goes on and on and is pretty much endless. Furthermore, the mere mention of some staunchly Pro-European individuals such as Tony Blair can be enough to start an argument.

Given that support for Rejoin is spread right across the political spectrum this needs to stop otherwise our goal of Rejoining will become increasingly unlikely and our movement, which has been painstakingly built over the last 5 years, will fragment and die.

As a movement we must stop fighting between ourselves and focus on issues related directly to our membership of the EU. However, there is also a need for considerable improvement in that area as well.

Imagine yourself as an outsider listening in to what the Rejoin movement is saying. Many of the messages we effectively broadcast to the outside world are inconsistent and contradictory, and can even inadvertently legitimise what our opponents are saying and end up working against us. Furthermore, some of what we say is very complex and difficult to understand and often very negative.

There is still a tendency within Rejoin to focus on the negative aspects of Brexit. Apart from ironically the fishing industry, the dire predictions of mass bankruptcies and associated job losses are unlikely to materialise. Even if they do, they will either be masked by Covid, or are going to occur over a longer, slower period of time rather than the quick cataclysmic event that would be needed to shock average leave voters into the realisation that Brexit is a bad thing that they should not have supported in the first place. Even then, as has become apparent in recent weeks, many if not most staunch leave voters will either blame everybody and everything other than Brexit, or will claim Brexit is worth it to ‘get back our sovereignty’.

Other arguments presented by Rejoin, such as the cause of Brexit being the desire to avoid EU anti-tax avoidance rules have no resonance at all with large sections of the electorate such as Red Wall voters and never will. Some arguments, such as challenging the result of the 2016 referendum on the grounds that there should have been a super majority, whilst understandable, actually end up having the opposite of the desired effect and confirm the legitimacy of the 2016 result in the eyes of many ordinary voters.

This inconsistency and contradictory nature of what we are saying a movement is not helping our cause and needs addressing urgently.

When discussing our campaign over Christmas a fellow Rejoiner pointed me in the direction of Moscovici, a French social psychologist, and his work on minority influence. Whilst I am still exploring his work, the potential it has to aid our cause rapidly became apparent to me.

Amongst other things Moscovici theorises that consistent arguments that do not change over time and that are perceived by the majority as legitimate and unbiased will succeed in changing the views of that majority. Implicit in this theory is a need for the arguments presented by the minority to be simple and straightforward so that they are readily understood by that majority.

The implications for the Rejoin Movement are that instead of the multiple, complex and often contradictory and inconsistent arguments that we usually present to the outside world, we need to simplify what we are saying and present far fewer but more consistent messages that will not change over time.

Effectively, we need to forget issues such as super majorities, tax avoidance and what our opponents’ term ‘project fear’, and focus on messages that are easily understandable by the majority of the electorate and which will resonate with them. Fortunately for us many such messages are readily apparent, meaning it is simply a case of adopting them and using them consistently. Examples include:

  1. We reject Brexit as the Leave Campaign lied, broke Electoral Law and Data Protection Law
  2. Nationalism and false claims about immigration are the root cause of Brexit.
  3. Membership of the EU is beneficial and is a good thing for the UK

Adopting a smaller and simpler set of messages such as these for broadcast to the outside world does not mean that we cannot engage in deeper discussion amongst ourselves or indeed with the wider electorate. However, before the wider electorate will engage with us in these deeper, more complex arguments, they need to accept that we have something to say that is legitimate and worthwhile, which is where these simpler consistent messages come in.

These simpler consistent messages are the key to that deeper engagement and persuading a politically apathetic electorate that we have a valid argument and that the question of EU membership needs further consideration.

Starmer, the Red Wall and Rejoining

Starmer’s decision to chase the Red Wall vote and the expense of Rejoining the EU has caused considerable concern to many in the Rejoin movement. This vote chasing in the long term will do nobody any favours and will most likely backfire on Labour. His stance is probably strongly influenced by his new policy chief and committed Leaver, Claire Ainsley. However, what is really needed from Starmer is some leadership on the issue rather than simply chasing any particular group of voters – Red Wall or Rejoiners.

The nature of the Leave Campaign in 2016 was dishonest beyond anything ever seen previously in British politics. To paraphrase Professor Michael Dougan of Liverpool University, the Leave Campaign was dishonest on an industrial scale on just about every major issue.

I came across one such example yesterday when attempting to ‘discuss’ Brexit’s lack of legitimacy with a hard-core supporter of Farage. The individual concerned claimed that the EU had never had its accounts signed off, a claim on the part of the Leave Campaign that is actually very easy to disprove with a simple Google search. No matter what I said or what evidence I presented, this individual simply would not accept the reality of the situation. The EU’s accounts have been signed off every year it has been in existence.

This is typical of the false beliefs about the EU held by many Leave voters. People in the Rejoin movement talk about ignorance and dishonesty of Leave voters, and whilst this may ring true, one needs to remember that ultimately the problem is with those who lied.

Such deeply held entrenched beliefs did not just happen or come about in the relatively short space of time of the referendum campaign in 2016 itself. In many ways they remind me of the belief’s individuals hold about Brands which are the product of planned and sustained campaigns on the part of brand owners to implant a particular perception of their products in the minds of consumers.

Such deeply held false beliefs about the EU can only have come about as a product of a deliberately and sustained campaign to discredit the EU using falsehood over a substantial period of time.

Starmer’s decision to chase the Ref Wall vote and allow Brexit to stand therefore has serious consequences for the quality of our democracy, indeed the very future of democracy in the UK. It sends a message to individuals and organisations that deliberately misleading the electorate in this way is acceptable in the UK.

Starmer therefore needs to show leadership and challenge that dishonesty for the sake of democracy itself. And that is without even considering the issue of the serious breaches of both data protection and electoral laws committed by the Leave Campaign for which it was heavily fined.

There is however a further reason why Starmer should address this issue which is the subject of some of those lies, specifically immigrants and immigration from the EU, which is often cited as the main issue that caused Red Wall voters to vote leave.

The Leave campaign made all sorts of allegations about EU immigrants and immigration such as a reduction in income, stealing jobs from British people and overwhelming public services such as the NHS.

These claims are false.

Study after study has shown little if any impact on wage levels caused by EU immigration, in fact the only authoritative study I have seen on the issue showing a reduction in income concluded that there was a reduction of just a few pennies, and even then, only in some industries not all. The claims of the Leave Campaign were inconsistent on the issue of stealing jobs with the famous Schrődinger’s immigrant simultaneously stealing jobs and claiming benefits whilst also telling us we had record levels of employment. Various studies have also shown that rather than overwhelming public services, EU immigrants actually contribute more in taxes than they take out in the form of services and benefits to the tune of several thousands of pounds each year.

When challenged over these false and misleading claims, leavers prove to be just as stubborn and often claim that they are based on common sense – if an immigrant is in the UK, they must be stealing a British person’s job. Not only does this show a lack of knowledge of the manpower shortages faced by the UK economy, it is also difficult to understand why they hold such beliefs when many Red Wall areas such as the South Wales Valleys have very few immigrants, EU or otherwise.

These claims raise two further issues that need addressing by Starmer, and indeed in the case of the first issue, by the wider UK society as this is where many of the allegations of racism on the part of leave voters arise.

EU immigrants were and are still being blamed for issues, not because they are responsible but simply because they are immigrants. That is racist and needs to be addressed no matter how uncomfortable it is for Starmer and the Labour party.

Secondly, whilst the cause of the long-term structural problems linked to industrial decline faced in many Red Wall areas is debatable and could include issues such as Thatcher’s monetarism of the early 1980’s, privatisation, militant trade unionism, lack of investment, the nationalisation of much of our heavy industry, or in the case of the coal industry, the longer term need to protect the environment, such problems were not caused by immigration or immigrants. Stopping Freedom of Movement by leaving the EU will therefore not solve the problems.

Furthermore, the desire expressed to rebuild the UK industrial base now that we have left the EU expressed by many in the Labour Party who supported Brexit is flying in flying in the face of the reality of the 4th Industrial Revolution with its digitisation and automation. Mass employment in manufacturing will soon be a thing of the past and the financial realities of the huge sums needed for automation make investment in a small British economy disconnected from the EU unrealistic.

Furthermore, the captive markets of the British Empire that our industrial base once relied upon for customers will not be coming back, indeed many of the countries that made up the British Empire are now emerging as economic powers themselves eager to export the products of their own manufacturing industry. India for example is growing in economic strength and given its size and democratic nature will no doubt become a leading economic superpower, perhaps even the leading economic superpower.

Leaving the EU will therefore do nothing to address the structural issues faced by Red Wall voters which are the ultimate cause of their dissatisfaction.
Starmer’s vote chasing with its implicit failure to show leadership on this issue of our EU membership will therefore not only result in alienating remain voters but will almost certainly also alienate Red Wall voters further. And, of course, waiting in the wings to exploit that alienation is Farage with his hate filled right wing populism.

Starmer needs to show leadership and act. He needs to face up to the issue of the lies of the Leave Campaign and lead Red Wall voters rather than just chase their votes.

Rejoining the European Union – A Statement by Colin Gordon

We wish to state that we are not “getting behind” Brexit.

Brexit has taken place and we are now experiencing the consequences. We must all in the coming period work together to do the best for our country by limiting, mitigating and repairing the immediate damage which Brexit is now inflicting on us. However we have no intention of consenting to lock ourselves indefinitely into a diminished future, or the permanent and pointless reduction of our shared possibilities resulting from the historic error which our nation has unfortunately been misled into committing.

As a pro-European movement we therefore declare our intention to campaign for the re-entry of the United Kingdom (or its legacy political entities) into the European Union at the earliest practicable opportunity. The timeline and phases of this campaign cannot now be precisely stated and will be determined by democratic attention to the state of public opinion and by the evolving situation, including of course the corresponding wishes and willingness our European neighbours. At this time we believe that the target should be to achieve re-entry by 2030.

Whatever the time, work and change that may be needed to achieve this goal, we declare unequivocally and as of now that an early re-entry of the UK to the EU is in our overwhelming national interest, as well as in the wider international interests of peace, justice and democracy. Along with all others who share this conviction, we commit ourselves with immediate effect to begin preparing the ground and creating the conditions for a democratic return of the UK to a path to a better future in a full and constructive partnership with its neighbours and allies in the EU, for the benefit of all its peoples.

We cannot afford to give our opponents a free run

Amongst the most common comments I see relating to the campaign to Rejoin are those along the lines that we must wait or the time isn’t right or we can’t do anything now because the Tory party has such a huge majority. Other comments relate to either Keir Starmer or Ed Davey playing some sort of clever long game over Rejoining which whilst I sincerely hope such claims are correct, I have to say I have never seen any supporting evidence to back up those claims. To be honest they seem like wishful thinking rather than having any real substance.

Similarly, I often see comments that that we must wait for the economic damage of Brexit to become apparent when we all know that many Leavers simply don’t care about the damage they are causing or that the damage caused by Brexit will simply get lost in the economic damage caused by the pandemic.

The end effect of all of these comments is that far too many Rejoiners are simply doing nothing to promote our cause. So, I thought I would take a look and see what some of our opposition is up to on social media.

Leave.EU has nearly a million followers on Facebook and nearly 300,000 on Twitter and is posting dozens of times every day on both channels.

The Brexit Party or whatever Farage’s latest incantation is called have around 200,000 followers on Facebook and Twitter and again are posting regularly. They have also made it very clear on social media that they intend to field candidates in the forthcoming local elections.

Labour Leave have just under 40,000 followers on both Twitter and Facebook and again are very active posting a dozen or so times a day.

If these organisations are active on social media you can bet the shirt on your back that they are active in other areas. For example, Labour Leave will be trying to push their agenda at a constituency level and at a national level including at the party conference.

At yet people in our movement are still saying the time isn’t right, its too early etc etc etc…and in the process giving our opponents a free run.

That has to stop and stop now.

Nobody is going to do this for us. We have to be proactive. Our opponents haven’t stopped and that means we must continue.

That doesn’t necessarily mean we should go out and start campaigning on the street and pushing our Rejoin message out to the electorate immediately, but we do need to be fighting our corner in other ways, particularly behind the scenes and within all of the political parties, which includes putting motions forward to party conferences such as the one to be put to the forthcoming Lib Dem spring conference which commits the party to EU Membership in the longer term.

REJOIN – A path back to EU Membership by Robert Braban

Recent days have brought a lot of huffing and puffing on the topic of putting right the Brexit damage and restoring Britain to EU membership.

Exploring theories with multiple options is a valuable exercise, but like many brain-storming sessions, the eventual conclusion ends up being not too far from the status quo. Essentially, politics is very much about marketing and needs to be approached as such.

The single biggest factor impacting on my view and that of others has been the registration of VOLT, a Pan-European political group, as a UK political party.

Although VOLT is a superb organisation, contributing to continued cohesion of the EU 27, it’s latest move is a real threat to the UK securing electoral support for reentry to the EU. To all but the politically naive, it will be immediately obvious that the intervention of an offshoot of a Brussels based political organisation will be a gift from heaven for Brexiteers and marketing disaster for supporters of the core initiative.

There needs to be a very clear separation between the supported Rejoin party and any suggestion of foreign influence, within or without the EU.

Having established the need for a clean UK image, the next marketing imperative has to be rethinking on product labelling. ‘Rejoin’ may be descriptive of the final objective, but it has become too emotive to have the widest achievable appeal. The label needs to more accurately describe the intended process and that will be conditioned as much by the EU as by us.

‘The Road back to Prosperity – Renegotiate-Restore or Repair-Rejoin’ might be a starting point for thought. It describes a natural process to get into the Single Market and Customs Union, restoring supply chains and trade, and eventually regaining membership. It would offend fewer doubters. It needs work, but practical political thinkers will get the drift and have ideas based on the theme.

For the purpose of this exercise I shall continue to use ‘Rejoin’ because it’s familiar to readers.

In the absence of a totally new Party with a Macron-like figure driving it, I see the only really realistic lead option as the Lib Dem’s.


Simply because they are already very Pro-Europe and have the appropriate national organisation in place. Organisation is of prime importance and it would take many years for a successor party to build up a similar base.

FORGET previous squabbles! This is not about reliving history, it’s about securing a vehicle that can get us to the desired destination. The old personalities are gone. Those hung up on those bye-gone events need a software restoration’.

The problem immediately obvious to many is that the Lib Dem’s still suffer prevarication within the Party. They have a ‘tired’ leader, a nice man, but one unable to enthuse members or the public, and there is no obvious replacement in sight. However, spreading the Party ‘Rejoin’ ambition does not have to be limited to Lib Dem MPs. With a strong Rejoin message, other prominent politicians will step up to promote this issue, if not the entire manifesto. A further factor is that a good showing in the local elections could add customer appeal.

Turning to the manifesto for a moment, the party representing Rejoin will need to have rejoin as core policy, its USP, but it must be supported by strong mainstream policies. New parties have an obvious difficulty in that regard.

Turning to branding ‘ Rejoin the EU’ is certainly too heavy for many fringe supporters to swallow as one dose. Moreover, voters inclined to give support would rightfully doubt the ability to deliver and conversion of that sentiment to criticism would hamper progress.

In order to get the sort of numbers that one would need would involve not only securing the votes of current anti-Brexit voters, but a good number who were once convinced of the value of Brexit, but have since suffered or witnessed events that have impacted on their thinking. They need leading back stage by stage, not driving back up the cliff face.

It’s important to note that planning to move back in increments is not giving anything up time-wise. It’s realistic. It’s the only way it could happen anyway.

Probably the best way to see a path forward in this type of dilemma is to think about what one would do if one was still running a company and was confronted by a similar situation.

A prime consideration is that there are a lot of Brexit voters who are already suffering and recognising betrayal. Lorry drivers face fines of £300 for entering Kent without a permit. Fishermen find that their ‘sunny upland’ comprises the smelly glow from fish rotting because their market has been removed by Brexit. Industrial workers are seeing broken supply chains that will, probably sooner rather than later, cost them their jobs.

It’s a consideration that the first tranche are likely to be educated intelligent people making decisions on evidence rather than emotion. Such people need careful nurturing and under the ‘Poacher turned Gamekeeper’ syndrome, they can become a powerful sales force.

That the Brexit situation will get worse as new problems arise is pretty obvious. The solution for the party with the guts to get off the fence will be to go forward pledging to:

  1. Reopen trade negotiations with the EU to secure a return to the single market and customs Union, thus restoring supply lines and established trade links. That will better secure jobs and slowly stop the rot.
  2. Take action to restore national security by returning to the EU institutions governing: space, medicines, crime, security, Erasmus etc, and
  3. sit down with the EU Commission to start talks on eventual full membership of the EU.

A manifesto package of that nature promptly updates and validates itself every time a Brexit screw up emerges.

Even the first stage a package offers several real benefits:

  1. It removes the NI border problem and recognises the importance of the GFA.
  2. The policy adoption and progress towards implementation could change the balance of the drive for independence in Scotland and thus help secure the Union.
  3. The first element would simply deliver what Vote Leave promised, an important selling point..

Were I not 82 years of age and a walking medical experiment, I would be seeking to promote this from a political platform. As it is I can only furnish ideas and sit back and watch the scrap.

Quite naturally, the whole picture would change if SKS and the many opposing factions within the Labour Party got together and decided to respect the views of the majority of Labour voters.

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”.

One Year On

A year ago just after the depressing news of Johnson’s win I was scrolling through Facebook when i came across a meme that said the campaign to rejoin the EU starts now.

I thought yes why not? Why should we just roll over and accept what has just happened? And why shouldn’t we start to campaign to rejoin now?

So, I started a little Facebook group expecting to end up with around 80 to 100 members and here we are a year later with around 21,500 members in this group alone…

Initially we expanded very quickly and started developing ideas for our campaign. For example, we came up with the idea for our #IAmEuropean campaign for the 2021 census, we started planning regional social meet ups, and alwo some form of pro EU summer festival.

But as we moved into February and March, far more pressing concerns about covid brought most of our plans to a grinding halt, and it is fair to say it has been a difficult and often frustrating year where many of our ideas have had to be put on the back burner.

However, over the last year we have achieved much and have spent a lot of time developing our infrastructure to the point where we now have a variety of different sub groups and pages on Facebook, various twitter and Instagram accounts and a website. We have built a presence and we are starting to influence.

We have developed our four-point plan to move towards our ultimate goal of rejoining the EU and are working towards each one. These four points are:

  1. To challenge the legitimacy of Brexit
  2. To promote the benefits of EU membership.
  3. To place rejoining the EU onto the agenda of the main political parties
  4. To develop, grow and maintain our Rejoin Movement and our European identity

For many people what is going on at present is very difficult with the shadow of no deal hanging over us and our country in just a few short days time, but we have to keep our hope and our belief that we will right this wrong, and that the UK will retake its rightful place at the heart of the EU.

We face a difficult journey and, for that journey to be successful, we need to move on from the events of the past, including the mistakes. What has happened has happened and we cannot change the past. Fighting amongst ourselves will not solve anything, and neither will trying to place blame onto one group of people or another. Both must stop and stop now.

We need to recognise that we are a diverse movement that has support from all sections of the UK population and amongst British people who live in other countries – all ages, all ethnicities, all religions, all geographic regions, and all political views etc etc support our goals, and we need to bridge those divides and work together to achieve our goals if we are to succeed.

Whatever does happen on the 31st December, we cannot sink any lower, and we start the journey to rejoining on 1st January.

The time for talking will stop and the time for action will begin and each and everyone of us needs to ask ourselves what we can do to help because there is a lot that needs doing.

Thank you for being part of this journey over the last 12 months. Covid still hangs over us, but as the threat recedes due to the wonderful efforts of our NHS and the Scientific community, hopefully the next 12 months will be a little easier for us than the last, and we will be able to advance our cause.

I hope you will join me in thanking the team of volunteers that runs our organisation, including the people that run this group. At times it has been a lot of hard work and it has not always been an easy or straightforward task.

We will prevail. Here’s to the next 12 months…

Why we need to push Labour on Rejoin now

There has been a lot of debate in recent months about why Starmer does not come out in favour of rejoin with perhaps the most common arguments being that he needs to bide his time or he is playing a clever game.

Thats not an argument that has any evidence to support it and this article highlights the dangers of those arguments – Labour Leavers are still active and are trying to either remove the issue of Rejoin from the agenda of the Labour Party or move Labour policy into opposition to EU membership.

That is something that we must counter if we are ever to Rejoin.

Articles such as this confirm that we are correct in setting one of our strategic goals as attempting to place Rejoin onto the agenda of the Labour Party.

This article also confirms that we need to be doing so now.