Stratford for Europe – a brief history
Where to start? Well, in June last year, two of our group found themselves campaigning together against leaving the EU, and given the outcome of the referendum, they felt it would be a shame if everything just stopped after June 23rd. So they sent a letter to the local paper inviting Remainers to get together to continue the challenge to Brexit. 40 people responded, and in November 2016 they assembled to hear a talk from Open Britain which enthused them to spread the word. By January 2017 a steering group of half a dozen people had been formed, a set of aims had been agreed and a variety of activities were being planned. Over the next few months, members shared their talents to draft position papers, continue a lively correspondence in the local paper and – most importantly – set up a website, a Facebook page and a Twitter account.
Our formal launch came with the visit of Professor A C Grayling at the beginning of March which attracted an audience of 200 people and since then, we haven’t looked back.
We’ve interviewed our 3 local MPs and when the election came up, we sent a list of questions on their Brexit policy to all the Stratford candidates, to which they gave us formal replies. We’ve even been interviewed ourselves by the Washington Post! They chose Stratford because it voted 52-48% in favour of Brexit, matching the national average. At District Council level, we’ve supported a motion calling for European citizens’ rights to be protected in Stratford.
We’ve made sure we are visible in the community by distributing business cards and leaflets, and running a mobile street stall with the aid of our famous battle bike, complete with balloons and image of The Bard. Local and digital campaigning has helped us build a mailing list of 315 supporters. Our digital team have signed up 221 supporters on Facebook and 293 followers on Twitter. This reach has been invaluable in publicising our activities and getting great audiences for our speakers. We’ve had two more well attended talks since Professor Grayling and have a rolling programme of speakers in the pipeline. Our latest digital success is a crowd-funding app which is already bringing in funds to support our main expense – the hire of venues for our events.
Apart from our local activities, we do have a ‘foreign affairs’ department too! We sent a coachload of supporters to join the March for Europe in London, two delegates attended the Convention on Europe in Westminster Hall and two more went to a ‘Europe Information Day’ (EDIC) in Birmingham. We are in touch with other groups in our area – EU in Brum, Worcester for Europe, Warwick for Europe – and are hoping to organise a regional get-together to pool ideas (and have some fun). We’re keen to share good practice and to learn from other groups’ experience with their campaigns. We’re particularly grateful to Bath for Europe and Bristol for Europe for their invaluable advice on how to run a market stall. Nationally, we’re affiliated to the European Movement and of course to Britain for Europe.
Our members have unflagging enthusiasm and are very generous with their time, and we share the belief that Europe is a cause worth fighting for.
Who was it that said this?
The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones that do.