Elizabeth Baker - 17/04/2019

Staffs4Europe Newsletter #5

Staffs4Europe Newsletter #5

Staffs4Europe campaigning for a People’s Vote.

Brexit day has come and gone. Twice! And we are still members of the EU with the deadline for Article 50 extended to Halloween. We can breathe a sigh of relief and take a moment to consider what we have achieved, but it can only be a moment as there is much more to be done to secure a #PeoplesVote, win it and begin the process of putting the horrors of Brexit behind us.

How Can I Help?

  • Register to Vote. Check dates for postal and proxy vote registration.
  • Encourage young friends and family members to register and to vote.
  • Follow People’s Vote and other Remain supporting organisations for information on the position of the parties & latest strategies.
  • Speak out about People’s Vote and reasons to Remain. There are more of us than the MSM would have you believe. Add your voice. Help us canvass.
  • Sign on-line petitions for the final say, revoke A50 and full investigation into electoral crimes.
  • Recognise the signs of creeping far-right extremism and call it out.

With the extended deadline we have every expectation of taking part in the EU parliamentary elections on 23rd May. A challenge, especially with the rise once more of Nigel Farage and his single issue, EU wrecking party, but also an opportunity. We need to maximise the vote for the parties that support a People’s Vote and who will return UK MEPs prepared to work hard and help to reform and strengthen the EU in the interests of European Citizens, including us in the UK and across our continent. The biggest risk is low turn out of our supporters.

GET OUT AND VOTE.

So first thing first, make sure you and all the young people and students you know are registered to vote. You can vote in the UK if you are a British citizen or an EU or Commonwealth citizen resident in the UK and 18 years or over. Deadline for registration is midnight 7th May but do it now. More information here. You’ll need your NI number. EU27 citizens can vote in UK or home country but other than Irish, Maltese and Cypriot will also need a European Parliament Voter Registration form to vote in UK to declare your choice.

Register to Vote image

 

 

 

 

Understand the voting system

Unlike the Westminster voting system which is ‘first past the post‘ for 650 constituencies, the UK uses a form of proportional representation called the d’Hondt method (except in NI which uses STV) for the EP elections and divides the country into 12 electoral regions. d’Hondt does not deliver exact proportional representation. Typically parties need about 10% of the vote to win a seat. In some regions where there are more parties than seats some will inevitably end up without one. With so many smaller Remain parties, which may split the vote, this is a risk.

In the West Midlands we elect seven (7) MEPs by voting for a party rather than a candidate. Each party provides a ranked list of candidates to whom seats are awarded in order according to the number of votes won by the party.

For an example of how the d'Hondt system works see our website

So despite the EP election using a form of PR it is worth understanding the detail as you may still wish to consider tactical voting. 

An interesting “Strawman on EP election tactical voting” aimed at Remainers has been provided by Metatone via Medium.

Our group is cross party and as part of the People’s Vote campaign is not promoting any political parties or candidates in the EU parliamentary or any other forthcoming elections. We will however attempt to keep you informed of the pro People’s Vote and Remain supporting parties and urge you to go out and vote for one of them.

 

At the time of writing the position of the major parties is shown below. Labour has said “a People’s Vote is on the table” but it is unclear what that means in practice and we will have to wait for its manifesto to see if it provides clarification. 

It is worth bearing in mind that following the 2017 General Election the government and Brexiters claimed anyone who voted for a party other than one expressly advocating Remain was supporting Brexit. 

Our aim in the EP elections is to give as strong a Remain and People’s Vote message as possible.

Soft to Hard brexit

European Parliament ... Did you know?


  • The UK elects 73 of the 751 directly elected MEPs who represent the citizens of Europe.
  • The EP is a co-legislator, sharing power with the Council to adopt and amend legislation.
  • It supervises the work of the Commission. Find out more here.

 

Help Build Support for a People’s Vote and to Remain

Talk to your friends and neighbours

Research has shown that chats with friends, family,  fellow members of a community and certain professions are more influential than hard facts and figures presented by strangers or experts. 

As a grassroots supporter your role is important and more significant than you may think. Talk to people you know and who know and trust you.  Just by talking to them you let your colleagues and neighbours know that not all Remain supporters are metropolitan elite but include people from their own neighbourhoods, facing the same challenges, fed up with austerity and desirous of the same better lives as they are, but who don’t believe leaving the EU will solve those problems but make them worse.

 

Follow, Share and Like People’s Vote and positive EU messages on social media

There are many excellent resources on line and a huge number of excellent and informative social media accounts.  Magnify the message by sharing, but don’t just stay in your bubble. Share with your Leave supporting friends, follow Leave voters who seem genuinely interested in the debate and reply to their comments.

In case you’ve missed them here are just a few:

98 Reasons to Remain (originally from Campaign to Remain) and the charming short YouTube video 101 reasons to stay

Bust the Myths

If anyone says “Taking back control .. . all those laws forced on us” show them this Twitter thread from Jim Grace, conveniently reproduced here in the London Economic and ask them which they don’t like.

Or says the “EU is corrupt and the accounts have never been signed off” point them to this Full Fact article.

Expose the fake news peddled by our newspapers for more than 20 years (see our website article here) and correct any remaining Euro myths (see here). When people know the real story behind the vacuum cleaners, lightbulbs and bananas they tend to agree they were good things.

Sign & encourage others to sign the petitions

These are still relevant and the numbers signing matter, even if only to generate press interest and make their aims a talking point. Here are a few:

Listen and learn

We all know that not all Leavers are ideological hard-nuts who demonstrate with model gallows, wear yellow vests and support “Tommy Robinson”, in fact we know they are probably in the minority. To win people over and persuade them we also need to be open to persuasion, so it is important to do as much, if not more, listening than talking.

Write to your MP

Yes, you’ve done it already, but keep going!

In the Labour party?

Lobby your local constituency to pressure Corbyn into openly supporting a People’s Vote.

Stand up for democracy

We are now all aware that Vote Leave broke electoral law during the referendum and had the result been legally binding it would have been overturned. We also know about the lies and misinformation and the example set in Switzerland where they are far more experienced and competent in managing referendums that we are in the UK. There are plenty of “logical” arguments why a further referendum is justified and not anti-democratic but in campaigning for a review and further vote we must not forget the bigger picture that a denial of a vote and the mantra of “will of the people” plays to a larger and altogether more dangerous picture. As Prof. Dougan pointed out in his talk to us in December, fighting Brexit is also fighting the rise of the right wing across Europe.

Follow us on Twitter and Facebook @Staffs4E @EUStaffordshire @peoplesvotelich

Defend against the rise of the Far Right

While out canvassing one morning we were asked “Do you think “Tommy Robinson” is a fascist? Most people round here think he is sticking up for them and tackling issues that matter to them, he’s listening to them, he tells it like it is. He’s doing something about it, standing up for them and no one else is. They resent being labelled as fascist supporters.”

And therein lies the danger. As Hannah Arendt said (Chapter 11, The Origins of Totalitarianism

“The sympathisers, who are to all appearances still innocuous fellow citizens in a non-totalitarian society, can hardly be be called single-minded fanatics; through them the movements make their fantastic lies more generally acceptable, can spread their propaganda in milder, more respectable forms, until the whole atmosphere is poisoned with totalitarian elements who are hardly recognisable as such but appear to be normal political reactions or opinions.”

Molly Scott Cato a Green MEP has been leading a project to raise awareness and help concerned citizens to defend themselves and their society against the creeping use of fascist propaganda and right wing populism. She has produced some interesting materials, based on the Italian historian  Umberto Eco’s list of 14 common features of fascism.

Defend Democracy

Many of the frustrations we have encountered and expressed in our campaign to stop Brexit appear in these lists. The real danger is not that we leave the EU, damaging as we all know it will be, but the methods that are being adopted to “deliver the will of the people” and to oppose dissent and the encouragement it will deliver to those fomenting this dangerous environment.

Credits

Elizabeth Baker, Staffs4Europe Steering Group
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