The following is a full transcript of the keynote speech by Will Hutton, Political Economist, Writer, Journalist, held at the Remainers to Campaigners workshop on 21st October 2017 in Sevenoaks.
I’m delighted to be here, and delighted to see the two flags. I’m very keen that we should always fly the EU flag alongside the Union Jack. For me the EU flag stands for values that I really care about, and I know most Europeans and most British care about too. These are the values that we have inherited partly from our Christian tradition, and partly from the European Enlightenment. The Aquis Communitaire, the Four Freedoms, Europe’s collective commitment to democracy, the rule of law, evidence-based science, non-fake news, belief in objective reporting, tolerance of the Other, respect for argument, are essential conditions for our wonderful European civilisation.
I’ve been a lifelong European, I learned it on my father’s knee. He landed in Normandy on D-Day plus 8, and he had a few things to say to Nigel Farage about fighting Germans. Continue reading “Will Hutton: The Challenges We Face”
On Saturday 21st Oct, SSTIE, sponsored by WKEM, ran an all day Remainers to Campaigners workshop at Sevenoaks Community Center which attracted 96 delegates from across the South East.
The event, which was described as “highly inspiring” by many of the participants, had a highly ambitious agenda, covering all aspects of remain campaigning from practical issues such as setting up a local groups and establishing communication channels, to discussions over the importance of remaining in the EU, and the political and psychological barriers that need to be overcome. Continue reading “Remainers to Campaigners – Workshop Report”
The Conservative Party Conference in Manchester marks the end of the conference season, and as it is the conference of the party in government, it also demands the most attention.
Brexit is essentially a revolutionary ideology, and as such, it really is ideologically incompatible with conservatism, which abhors change.
If you believe that it’s time to send the Brexiteers back to the back-benches where they belong, and let some cooler heads take over, then join us on the first of October in Manchester as we march on the Conservative Party Conference to demand that Brexit is stopped! Continue reading “Stop Brexit in Manchester – Oct 1st”
On Sunday 24 September, the Labour Party Conference arrives in Brighton. Brighton and Hove for EU and many other Remain groups will be ready with an important message for the Labour leadership, MPs and delegates.
Sevenoaks and Swanley Together In Europe will be supporting this event. Due to the close distance to Brighton, it makes more sense for us to travel indenpendently, sharing cars rather than a coach. However, we do plan to march as a group, so please join us! Continue reading “Stop Brexit in Brighton – Sept 24th”
Over the coming weeks, the #StopBrexit movement will be at all the major UK-wide party conferences, talking to party members and MPs, the local public and the media. At each stop there are different debates to be had and different dynamics to be built. No one UK party can stop Brexit. There needs to be new thinking and brave action inside each major party, as well as new dialogue across parties driven on by a turning tide of public awareness.
The Liberal Party Conference
The Liberal Democrat Conference is the first in the autumn party conference season – and for the Remain movement, it is a key event. Continue reading “Stop Brexit in Bournemouth – Sept 17th”
‘Stop Brexit’ is the message of the times and the forthcoming Autumn of Discontent represents an attempt to restore democracy
The period before the last general election was a time of immense anguish for those who believe in the potential of the EU. During the election campaign Theresa May, backed by the majority of polls predicting an overwhelming electoral victory for her party, repeatedly stated that every vote for her was a vote to strengthen her hands in negotiating Brexit. The outcome of the recent general election in effect wiped out the mandate she claimed; her ‘strong and stable’ election slogan was followed by an electoral result revealing instead that she was weak and wobbly. And so the referendum mandate, based on the myth that it represented the will of the people, was significantly undermined.
The political cowardice of the Labour Party to hide behind the myth of the will of the people has only served to deepen divisions in British society and highlight further the lack of consensus. Tory hardliners and Corbynistas have hijacked the agenda. Party politics prevails over true democracy.
Yet despite the lack of a clear and overwhelming support for Brexit, Theresa May and her party continue to pursue the Brexit agenda. Having failed to provide any detailed plans beyond a jingoistic narrative for a ‘Global Britain’ trading with unknown countries at this stage and with access to endless chlorinated chickens, she continues to ignore a number of recent polls clearly showing that the original protest vote has now switched sides. The Labour Party, mainly through statements by Corbyn, seeks a Brexit that is good for jobs and employment; a contradiction evident to most sensible people.
The folly of Brexit is revealed through numerous reports predicting economic and social upheaval. There has not been a single report that Brexit can deliver a better society. The blindness and moral cowardice of the two main political parties caught in a vicious circle of groupthink reminiscent of the ‘Abilene paradox’ undermines the democratic will of the majority of people. The status of three million EU citizens remains unclear. And all this in a country with over two thousand food banks and over one million children below the poverty line. None of the two political parties has attempted to explain how Brexit might address austerity.
It was George Orwell who stated that speaking the truth in times of universal deceit is a revolutionary act. The deceit is blatantly obvious not only through the white letters on the side of the red bus but also through the endless appeals to xenophobia, hatred and division in the pages of some mainstream media. During these times of deep crisis muddling the message with slogans that might appeal to ‘soft leavers/Brexiters’ is an act of complacency. There is nothing to rethink. There is a lot to reject.
The three Stop Brexit marches (September 17, Bournemouth, Lib. Dem party conference – September 24, Brighton, Labour party conference – October 1, Manchester, Tory party conference) as well as varied other actions with an explicit Stop Brexit focus during this forthcoming autumn, represent a message that is timely and are an attempt to restore democracy.