Report on SSTIE Workshop 12th Aug 2017, Sevenoaks
There were 9 SSTIE members present and 18 representatives of 11 groups from as far afield as Brighton, Seaford and Peacehaven, Eastbourne, Canterbury, St Albans, Essex and even Port Talbot.
5 sections of the program were led by 5 SSTIE members :
1) Objectives (Patrick Reynolds)
The main objective of the Workshop was to establish cooperation across the Remain Groups in the Southeast (there are over 100 of them) so as to coordinate our Pro-Remain messages and get them out to the public at large.
Delegates had a range of different needs and questions like:
- i) how to attract more active members;
- ii) what can be done to influence Westminster policy;
- iii) how to get people involved;
- iv) how to raise public awareness;
- v) is there a credible funded “staying in” group;
- vi) how to engage young people?
Lots of these were common to groups and discussion threw up possible solutions to some of these questions including the benefit of being involved with activities being run by other groups as this would give some momentum to local events.
2) Effective Campaigning (Tony Clayton)
Tony started by suggesting that while Stop Brexit is our principal aim that it might be a step too far at the moment for some of those that we need to influence. One or two delegates were reluctant to accept this soft Brexit approach.
Tony went on to indicate our target audience of soft leavers (not worthwhile attempting to influence the hard leavers), all party Remainers, who might be ready to accept EEA and politicians. The pro Brexit campaign is still running but they are not telling Leave voters what they are not getting. It is clear that some MPs, e.g. all front benchers are not worth approaching, as they simply repeat the party line, but other constituency MPs are certainly worth targeting.
As far as Parliament is concerned, it was pointed out that the Bill to repeal the European Communities Act will be presented to parliament on Sept 7th .
In practical terms it is advised to get down to the nuts and bolts of which Brexit-related issues affect families, friends, jobs, prices, the NHS and when campaigning ask people directly about these sorts of things. It is clear that we need to tailor the questions carefully for this type of interaction. It was suggested that the single market is the most important thing we lose, but others suggested there is more to the EU than just the market.
One delegate wanted to know how to respond to the statement “It has all been decided”. Some groups report large number of members but only 10 or so active.
3) Improving Campaigning (Patrick Lohlein)
Patrick called for remainers to be proactive in their campaigning, and to be “referendum-ready”, i.e. work on the assumption that there will be a second referendum, indicating that:
i) there is a huge skills base among the Remainers which needs to be tapped,
ii) we need to strengthen local groups in terms of numbers and capacity,
iii) we need to bring people together for a future training programme to give remainers the broad cross-section of skills they need.
Some delegates felt that while they have lots of members, they have nothing to give them and there was considerable agreement on the benefits of running a training programme, as this would energise people to get out and campaign.
Others talked of the importance of getting some emotion into the campaign. It was suggested that when out on the street or at a stall, we emphasise the extent to which being in the EU matters to us on the emotional level, as well as from the obvious benefits of trade and economics.
- Improving our Arguments:
- Ask people questions on the practical issues they face and base conversation on personal impact rather than abstract ides. We need a resource to answer the questions for people to tap into.
- We need to stress what we lose by leaving is not just harm to the
economy: the EU is a way of life
- Clear focus: two or three slogans with emotional communication
2. Engaging our members:
Most groups felt that they are not effectively engaging their members, and that they don’t know enough about who they are. Giving people specific tasks to make them feel involved -and surveys of member professions and skills were discussed as options. Some fund-raising ideas were also floated
3. Increasing our Audience:
- We need to be seen out on the streets more
- Creative communication e.g. Radio, newspapers, notice boards, stickers
- Political leader needed, but also civil society involvement, such as churches and trade unions, and VIPs.
4) Planned Activities (Nick Kennard)
21St October SSTIE
Training day “Turning Remainers into Campaigners” 10.00-16.00 Community Centre, Crampton’s Rd, Sevenoaks TN14 5DN
This event will be jointly sponsored by WKEM. The event will be advertised widely. There are 120 places available and it is anticipated that there will be significant demand for these. There will be a small fee to cover admin and a sandwich lunch.
SSTIE will welcome offers to assist with training on effective campaigning on the street, on social media or otherwise. We are looking for a keynote speaker and have approached several. We welcome the offer from Brighton and Hove for Europe to approach Caroline Lucas, and from St Albans for Europe to approach Catherine Bearder about this.
Many other campaign groups presented projects including the following through the autumn :
On- going campaigns :
St Albans for Europe is a branch of the EM and presented their pilot study group for the programme Nationbuilder, which allows
i) the group to have a website blog,
ii) the members to sign up for events;
iii) data capture to take place,
iv) links with facebook,
The No 10 Vigil whose members have a regular protest spot opposite Downing Street. To join simply turn up at No 10 after 6pm on Mon, Wed and Fri – but please note that the location changes during the summer recess.
Flag bombings – Members of various groups in Kent and the delegates from East Surrey, were supportive of the idea that will target every motorway bridge with EU flags.
UPCOMING dates :
- 2|9 – Street Stalls in many locations, incl. Canterbury
- 5|9 – SODEM (Stand Off Defiance European’s Movement) represented by Steven Bray, will be protesting outside Parliament to welcome MPs after the summer recess;
- 5|9-6|9 – EUnite Trip to Brussels and Luxembourg
- 7|9 – 2nd reading of the EU (Withdrawal) Bill in House of Parliament. A new website is being launched to provide a one-stop resources on the bill
- 9|9 – London March for EU & Launch of James Chapman’s Democrats Party
- 13|9 – EU Mass Lobby and Rally – London
- 17|9 – LibDem Conference Bournemouth
- 24|9 – Labour Party Conference Brighton – the organisers have asked for support from other groups in the Southeast with providing stewards, first aiders and boots on the ground
- 1|10 – Conservative Party Conference Manchester – Kent Is Closer To Europe is organising coach travel for Kent and East Sussex groups
5) Future Cooperation (Richard Baxter)
There was a feeling that the workshop had created the possibilities for
significant future cooperation by :
i) sharing personnel
ii) best practice
iii) supporting each others’ events
iv) formation of a training group which will pick up on the ideas coming
from this meeting to make campaigning more effective
v) highlighting the need for campaigners to be knowledgeable about the
Richard proposed that this group should meet again on the occasion of the SSTIE/WKEM workshop and the 21 st October could be an appropriate date.
6) Conclusions and thanks (Peter Kinsler)
PK thanked everyone for their presence and active participation.
Among the conclusions to take away from this day are:
i) The need for an umbrella organization across the Southeast.
ii) Fundraising including corporate sponsorship to make campaigning
possible is essential;
iii) We need to be Referendum Ready;
iv) A Southeast website which everyone could input to would be useful;
v) Essex for Europe called for help and received offers of support for any event that they might announce.
vi) The Fake nationalists need to be combated;
vii) Campaign focus should be soft Brexiters and wavering Remainers;
viii) This report needs to be distributed as widely as possible and should
go onto websites and Facebook.. A press release to Newspapers in
each locality would be worthwhile.
Finally, the contributions of Patrick Lohlein, who produced the idea of the
workshop,and Patrick Reynolds,who handled all communication and registration matters in the run up to the day were warmly acknowledged.