Thursday, 4 February 2016

Sir Graham Watson: Mobilising Middle England. What you can do.

As the Britain Stronger In Europe campaign (aka StrongerIN) gets up and running - with our own Richard Pinnock as the SW regional organiser - it will need all the help it can get. This means political parties, trade unions, churches etc all mobilising to persuade people to stay in Europe. But it also means all those organisations working together in a common campaign under the StrongerIN umbrella. 

The common campaign probably has a better chance of persuading more people. And it will attract support from internationalists everywhere.

You may already have received a mailshot from StrongerIN. Many SW households have. But the national campaign does not have the resources to fight local campaigns locally.

That is why we must do three things:

1. Identify locally the following: companies who depend on EU markets; the essential workers (teachers, nurses, drivers) from other EU countries who would lose the automatic right to live and work in Britain; local people who work or own property abroad.  Then set up a street stall, organise house parties and deliver leaflets to tell people about the threats they face. Local examples are so much more powerful than national generalisations.

2. Identify people active in membership organisations such as Mumsnet, the WI, the RSPB, the National Trust. Ask them to start a dialogue with their fellow local members about what leaving the EU would mean to their organisation. Offer to get them pro-EU literature and speakers.

3. Identify/join local Facebook and Twitter groups and retweet to them good news about the EU from pro-EU campaigners. It's today's equivalent of David Penhaligon's immortal advice 'If you've something to say, put it on a leaflet and shove it through a letter-box'. And it eats less shoe-leather.

As well as being President of the Western Counties LibDems I am the chairman of the South West Outreach Team for StrongerIN. We can provide speakers and material for literature. But this campaign will need every committed individual to act on her or his own initiative. Within your community, within your profession, within your circle of acquaintances.

Some 200 Liberal Democrats joined me in Exeter last Saturday to learn about the messaging and the techniques we can use. Visuals from that event are available if you would like them.

The European Commission published yesterday the terms they propose to offer to the UK to meet David Cameron's concerns. These can be found here. If approved by the other EU heads of state and government, hese will help persuade some of the UK doubters (especially Conservatives) to vote to stay in. But the question on the ballot paper will not mention the concessions to Cameron. It simply asks the voter whether s/he wishes Britain to remain in the EU or to leave the EU.