Summer Update from Stratford4Europe

It’s been a busy time since April!

Over the last few months we have held another regional meeting, participated in all the EU Action Days, continued our programme of guest speakers, helped to launch another group in Warwick, marched in support of the People’s Vote and had a picnic in the park (well, on the rec).

In late April we hosted a meeting of local groups as one of eight regional meetings which were organised by the new national team in London to follow up the launch of the new CAMPAIGN FOR A PEOPLE’S VOTE. The meeting was for all members of the organising teams of local campaign groups in the Midlands and Central England and was attended by 11 groups in our area from Oxford to Walsall and from Warwick to Gloucester. Alex Wilkes from the European Movement gave a presentation on the campaign and how it should be presented, and Stephen Dorrell, the chair of the European Movement and former Conservative MP, gave an encouraging talk to the assembled group reps on how the new national campaign is working to stop Brexit.

On 30 April  we had a talk by Molly Scott Cato, a Green Party MEP, member of the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee and the Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee. She gave us an insight into the impact of Brexit on agriculture  and the environment which stimulated a lot of interest and questions from the packed audience.

On 10th May, we had a chance to welcome Stephen Dorrell back to Stratford, this time to talk in public to an audience of supporters from south Warwickshire who were also enthused by what he had to say, as well as by the new national collaboration between the main Anti-Brexit groups.

On  12th May, we got together to celebrate Europe Day with a family picnic by the river Avon. Delicious European food was washed down with even more delicious European wine followed by continental-style coffee. Thank goodness we won’t be leaving the EU ….

We were back to business in May in Leamington Spa for the EU Action Day Saturday on 19th May, where we supported WarwickDistrict4Europe run a People’s Vote Street stall, handing out leaflets and collecting signatures on the petition. Some members of our steering group have been closely involved in helping to launch the new group in Warwick, which is now running independently and has its own organisation. Lucky Warwick has a new Labour MP, Matt Western, who recently defied the whip in voting against the European Withdrawal Bill.

Members of the group supported a PV event organised by Worcester for Europe in Redditch on 26th May. We were somewhat hampered by pouring rain and the officious wardens who prevented us from standing even near the entrance to the busy shopping mall. However, we gave out plenty of leaflets, had some good conversations and made our presence felt.

On 30th May, we had a talk from Dr. Mike Galsworthy, the Programme Director for both Scientists for EU and Healthier IN. Mike Galsworthy explored the threats posed to Britain’s science community as well as to our universities and the National Health Service by the spectre of Brexit, arguing the case that control must be given back to the people by giving them a vote on any final deal. The talk was very well attended by an appreciative audience, he was very generous with his time and subsequently put a video on Twitter.

Into June now, and the People’s Vote event in Stratford on 2nd June was held in Stratford in glorious sunshine. Our People’s Vote barometer is popular with young and old, allowing people to show with coloured stickers on a board whether they support it or not. The barometer showed 86% in favour this time, although we must make allowances for the fact that many Leavers don’t want to participate.

On 5th June, one of the team went to the ‘Thank You’ event in Parliament organised by Britain for Europe. He was able to join a SODEM demonstration outside Downing St beforehand when a group of EDL-types turned up and threatened violence! Luckily the police were on hand (and seemed sympathetic!) For a full account of the day see this article by Elspeth Williams from Bremain in Spain

We continued our programme of People’s Vote events with a visit to Warwick University on both the 12th and 19th June to drum up support for the London March. We got a great response from the students, the lecturers and the maintenance staff as well.

On 17th June a group of us went to support W&D4Europe at the Leamington Peace Festival, the annual event at which we helped them launch last year. As we shivered in the freezing cold (hard to think of it now), we were comforted by the overwhelmingly positive response to be found in the young and diverse crowd at the festival

The 23rd June saw us filling 3 coaches with supporters to go to the London March. It was a great outing and very exciting to join such a large crowd (more than 100,000) of people who were all as committed as we are to stopping Brexit. The speakers at the rally included Vince Cable, Anna Soubry, David Lammy, Caroline Lucas and many others, all speaking in favour of a People’s Vote and getting roars of approval from the crowd. Jeremy Corbin’s absence was noted with chants of ‘Where’s Jeremy Corbin’ to the tune of ‘Oooh, Jeremy Corbin’ from last year’s Glastonbury Festival.

Just 3 days later we helped WarwickDistrict4Europe host a talk by Professor A C Grayling, a charismatic academic who was our very first speaker in Stratford at the beginning of last year. It was interesting to hear his latest take on Brexit, particularly that even if we were to leave, we would soon choose to re-enter the EU. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.

All these activities were supported by the hard work of the Steering Group who designed, copied and distributed thousands of leaflets, obtained hundreds of signatures for the People’s Vote petition, organised THREE coaches for the march in London, managed our social media output and last but not least, implemented a new admin system called Nationbuilder which enables us to comply with GDPR (the new data protection rules).

We’re taking a summer break from our speaker programme now but other campaign activities to support the People’s Vote are continuing. More next time.

The EU has given us the three Ps – Peace, Prosperity and Power – for the last 45 years, so let’s keep campaigning to stay in.

Next up:

  • Pictures from the 48% screening at the Picturehouse in Stratford
  • Another Europe is possible – the Tour, Birmingham 31st July
  • European Action Day July 21st, August 25th, Sep 29th
  • March at the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham
  • The next Great London March, Saturday 20th October

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