We all need to be galvanised occasionally and six of the Stirling4Europe hardcore were definitely galvanised by attending the rally on Saturday 26th January. It took place in Edinburgh, organised by EMIS – the European Movement in Scotland.
Blog post by Mary Taylor of Stirling 4 Europe
The first session was addressed by three speakers: Brexit & Constitution Cabinet Secretary in the Scottish Government – Mike Russell MSP; Catherine Stihler, stepping down as MEP this month (who spoke at the S4EU rally in September last year); and Anton Muscatelli, Professor of Economics and Principal of the University of Glasgow. All three were avowed supporters of the Peoples’ Vote and each considered aspects of the current situation in turn before taking questions.
Muscatelli focussed on the threats, costs and risks to the UK economy, some of which have already started to crystallise with manufacturing and jobs moving to mainland Europe.
Stihler talked about people, peace and policy. The connections between people at all levels were invaluable and started with a shared and ultimately effective vision of a peace and cooperation in the original European project. She cited examples of the achievements and benefits of the EU from matters which she had pursued to benefit health (in relation to tobacco advertising); required braille to be used on pharmaceutical packaging ; and open data ^. But she reminded her audience that the UK Government had europeanised failure while nationalising success. Little surprise then that when it came to the 2016 referendum, voters had no idea of what the EU had achieved over 40+ years.
Russell spoke about the obscenity of Brexiteers talking about not wanting to be ruled by Germans: his father had volunteered in the second world war aged 19, and wanted future generations of 19 yr olds not to have to go to war again. He also talked about some of the complexities of preparing for the ghastly prospect of No Deal, with the most dire implications for those living furthest away from import / export centres.
The second session involved MPs Christine Jardine (LibDem), Joanna Cherry (SNP) and Ian Murray (Labour) joined by Green MSP Andy Wightman. All were in favour of the peoples Vote for all its complexities and risks. Those working in Westminster shared with the audience accounts of their cross-party work, however unexpected or uncomfortable, and sometimes away from public view, to find constructive solutions to the current morass.
Murray was warmly applauded for his arguments for going against the party whip putting his own job at risk to save jobs generally. The audience posed great questions about how to convince Leave voters of the benefits of staying in, of how to get Corbyn to change tack given the drift of Labour voters in NE England to Remain, about what needed to be on the ballot paper.
On this point Cherry argued strongly on legal grounds that No Deal could not legally appear on a ballot paper as it breaches international obligations. In any case No Deal is understood by some – wrongly – to be remain by default whereas it is better understood as crashing out of EU without a deal and without any replacement trade arrangements.
Jardine made a strong plea for those campaigning for a PV and to remain in EU, to leave a second independence referendum out of the argument at this stage to avoid alienating pro-union voters. This was the only point of contention between the speakers.
The third session allowed local groups to share their experiences of effective local organisation including with young people. We heard too from the only paid organiser of the PV in Scotland (who met the Stirling group a few days earlier). She thanked local groups and activists for everything they had done for the campaign so far and encouraged them / us to organise local meetings under the banner of Peoples Voice and to remain visible on the streets. Watch this space!
Your local group is already planning further forays on to the streets and need more volunteers to take part to maintain momentum. If you believe in the importance of a Peoples’ Vote, please let us know what you will do to help – organising behind the scenes, handing out postcards on street stalls, delivering leaflets, drafting letters and press releases, updating facebook. All effort helps to spread the load. Remember our email address firstname.lastname@example.org
And remember too that a campaign needs financial contributions – “every little helps”!