Before becoming an MEP for the North West, Julie Ward worked in the theatre industry, so she’s no stranger to being on stage in village halls. Although giving speeches in her capacity as one of 8 MEPs for the region may seem a little more dry, the energy and enthusiasm she bought to the talk at Wistaston Memorial Hall in Crewe made the evening extremely inspiring and engaging for everyone involved.
On the 1st October The Conservative Party conference was held in Manchester. At the same time Sir Vince Cable MP and Stephen Dorrell, European Movement and former Conservative Cabinet Minister, were amongst those who spoke at the crowdfunded Rally & Street Party, hosted by Manchester for Europe in Cathedral Gardens, and supported by Britain for Europe, The European Movement, Scientists for EU, Healthier IN the EU and Open Britain.
Mancunian personality Terry Christian, as MC, glued together a feast of top class entertainment, speakers and artists. Sir Vince Cable MP, Richard Corbett MEP, Mike Galsworthy (Scientists for EU), Jolyon Maugham QC, Julie Ward MEP, Dr Erinma Bell MBE, Stephen Dorrell and Seb Dance MEP were terrific while EU Elvis, the No. 10 Vigil, Madeleina Kay and the one and only Faux BoJo had a packed Cathedral Gardens duly entertained before Badly Drawn Boy and Tom Hingley (Ex Inspiral Carpets) rounded the evening off with two wonderful acoustic live sets. Big Bubble Man thrilled the kids, while others were face painted to perfection by a team of hard working artists - none more so than the stellar work done creating four live nudes who took to the stage in almost their (EU) birthday suits! The event was organised as a positive opportunity to emphasise that democracy didn't end on 23 June 2016 and is an ongoing, participative process; to show just how much backing there is in the country for a close relationship between Britain and Europe; and to celebrate the huge benefits of EU membership, which we don’t want to lose.
A selection of the best photos can be found here:photos
Professor AC Grayling gave a well-attended lecture on 12th March 2017 organised jointly by Manchester For Europe and the Jean Monnet Centre/European Affairs Society at the University of Manchester. Titled Fighting For Europe, Professor Grayling outlined the reasons for the referendum being called, the reasons why it was not legitimate and what the next steps are for those seeking to keep the UK in the EU. A question and answer session followed.
Watch the talk again via the video embed below or if you prefer, scroll down and read the notes made by a member of the audeince.
Notes taken by a member of the audience
(Note from author - Random notes taken from the lecture - no attempt at collation or analysis - FS) We are being "hustled" out of the EU
We must stay angry - though cool, orderly and informed. Need to target the marginals by addressing attitudes and emotions - not reason. We ran away from the difficulties involved in building the European project. The right wing of the Tory party have been giving their Prime Ministers hell.
The referendum was conducted on the back of a restricted franchise - no young people, EU citizens living and paying tax in the UK, or ex-pats who have been away over 15 years. This is contrary to other referenda such as that for Scottish independence. "The referendum was gerrymandered". Reference made to John Stuart Mills book on representative democracy and the "morality of the constitution".
Info pertaining to the referendum
A House of Commons briefing paper was issued on 3rd June 2015 (# 07212). Section 5 explicitly states it is to be a non-binding, advisory referendum. Section 6 goes on to say that "if there is any suggestion of it being other than an advisory vote then a simple majority will not do". Later that month, Hansard records the Minister for the EU stated that there was no need to consider clauses to accommodate the need for a Super majority as the vote would be advisory only.
Immediately after the referendum, PM May went against the will of the majority Remainers in her parliamentary party by signalling her intent to invoke Article 50. The decision to invoke Article 50 is therefore politically illegitimate, it having no legal basis, there having been no Parliamentary debate on the re-interpretation of the rules of the Referendum Bill and there being no examination of the consequences of exit. Indeed, it took an order by the Supreme Court to force PM May to allow the sovereign Parliament to debate on a bill to trigger Article 50.
The imposing of a 3 line whip by PM may gives rise to various forms of coercion including threats to career, family stability and deselection... in short blackmail, which would be deemed illegal in any other form of employment. Many Tory MPs voted with the government against their better judgement. "It may be appropriate to whip MPs on items that relate to a manifesto commitment, but it should not be applied to constitutional matters".
"There are around 20,000 laws, regulations and rules that join the UK to the EU. Separation is like dissecting co-joined twins where they share the same brain" Meaningful negotiations cannot commence until after the 2017 German elections. If, as said by Harold Wilson, "a week is a long time in politics", then the next 3 years will show many events that may go in our favour.
We must keep fighting... We must keep fighting... Keep on board our Remainer friends. Remind them it is about the long-term, the future of our children. Change the minds of any Leavers that we meet... their reasons for leaving have been shown to be incorrect.
The main issues raised were for Immigration and Sovereignty...
immigration is essential and cannot be stopped. 26% of NHS workers, Agriculture, Universities, Hospitality, Social Care, all rely on the continuation of immigration.
Anti-immigrants fall into 2 camps:
Those with direct experience who live in crowded towns with planning problems and
Those who have never met an immigrant and fear that they might.
Angela Merkel was acting strategically in allowing the inward migration of many Middle Eastern refugees... the German population is projected to shrink from 82 million to 52 million by 2050. These people are essential to fill the jobs gap and maintain the economy in order to pay for services and the pensions of those presently in work!
What exactly does this mean in a modern economy where nations cannot act unilaterely without consequence? The government took away Parliamentary sovereignty in the Article 50 bill in that they published the White Paper AFTER the bill was passed. White papers are normally issued weeks ahead of the debate to enable MPs to read and understand the issues. But the white paper relating to Article 50 was published at 4.07am on the day after this bill was passed, thereby eliminating any chance of scrutiny and denying parliament its right to exercise control. In an ironic twist to the story, Section 2 para 1 carries a quote from PM May which states that "(we) never lost our sovereignty (through being in the EU), but sometimes it felt like it". Quite bizarre.
Dissent with EU Regulations is largely misplaced as many of the EU laws were either proposed by the UK or fully supported by the UK. Without EU legislation we would have poorer employment laws, poorer warranty of goods, poorer environmental protection, a more relaxed approach to health and safety and have lost out on financial support to many infrastructure projects.
These two dissenting groups around Immigration and Sovereignty were brought together using the techniques of modern big-data analysis. A company called "Cambridge Analytica" analysed data from social media to find the emotional trigger points. Trump used the same company for his election campaign. Indeed, Trump uses a technique called "necklacing" were sequential messages are targeted to target groups one-after-the-other in order to build a coalition of dissent around one agenda.
Who benefits from leaving the EU?
The wealthy. As many countries form their local trading blocks, our withdrawal from the most successful block will isolate us. The only way for us to compete will be to lower corporation taxes to attract companies to invest (as done by Ireland to kick-start the Celtic Tiger economy - addition by note-taker FS). In addition, it will be necessary to deregulate in such a way that employment and environmental laws are lowered so that workers and our living space is exploited. There will be less cash for the NHS, social care, education, charities and the arts... it will be the mass of the people who will suffer. Only the wealthy who are prepared to pay up front or through an insurance model can hope to retain some of the benefits...
What reasons would we put forward for being in the EU?
Apart from the obvious ones around peace, prosperity, protection and good health, we feel to be part of an extraordinary, inspirational and visionary exercise. We are trying to build a home for peace, prosperity and ideals. It's a story about a wonderfully developing culture.
What shall we say to Brexiteers?
You are wasting your time, and ours. Our long-term future lies in the EU and, if we are pulled out then we will just start working to find our way back in again.
How do we convince Brexiteers? "You've been conned". Lies, falsehoods, distortions. 40 years from the Mail, Sun, Express... vomiting anti-EU sentiments.
Is there a mechanism to revoke Article 50? The author of the Lisbon Treaty believes it is possible The EU27 countries don't want us to go Juncker, Verhofstadt etc all say they support a revocation A case may even be going to the ECJ for clarification.
What would constitute a "meaningful vote"? A non-whipped vote following a substantive discussion of the issues in public and full debate in Parliament.
Who would make a good "organisational agent"?
Rather than one single representative body there is power in having a plethora of grass root voices. Keep writing to MPs, visit them, call them, make yourself a nuisance. Support those MPs who support Remaining. (Note from author... and maybe support prospective candidates who want to Remain).