CAMDEN FOR EUROPE NEWSLETTER – 30th SEPTEMBER 2016

This newsletter appears every two weeks on the Friday or Saturday. It relies on contributions from readers! Please send news and views for the next issue by8pm on Thursday 13th October to newsletter@camdenforeurope.org.

Also: we need a slogan for the group. If you have any ideas please send them to the above email address.

In a spirit of federalism (but also subsidiarity), the next edition will be rebranded ‘Islington and Camden For Europe Newsletter’ and will contain details of activities and events of both groups.

Many thanks to those readers who have contributed to this issue.

Camden for Europe also has a website – www.camdenforeurope.org

CONTENTS

  1. Upcoming activities
  2. Recent activities
  3. What’s going on elsewhere
  4. Other contributions from readers:  What is Europe For?

UPCOMING ACTIVITIES

STREET STALLS AND DAY OF ACTION
Saturday 1st October, 11am-1pm  A street stall in front of Mornington Crescent Station. Please do come and show the strength of European feeling, raise our local profile and spread the word. We will have leaflets, stickers and other resources to hand out. Call or text David on 07794 071 810 for more information or to let us know you can come.
Saturday 8th October, 11am-1pm (times to be confirmed). We will run street stalls at King’s Cross (as above), at Euston Station (precise location to be confirmed) and at Mornington Crescent Station. This is part of a London wide day of action facilitated by the London Pro-European Forum and will involve collecting signatures in favour of single market membership. Please do come – call or text David on 07794 071 810 for precise times and locations.

DISCUSSION AND SOCIAL EVENT
Wednesday 5th October, 7.30pm-8.30pm. Professor Alan Winters, Director of Sussex University’s Trade policy Observatory (http://www.sussex.ac.uk/bmec/research/uktpo) will open a discussion on Trade Policy and UK relations with Europe.  (See chapter 7 http://voxeu.org/content/brexit-beckons-thinking-ahead-leading-economists).
Venue: The Holly Bush, The Romney Room (upstairs), 22 Holly Mount, London NW3 6SG. The food at The Holly Bush is excellent. Any queries, please contact Valerie,  v.yorke@btinternet.com.  To register, please click on this link using the password CfEdiscussion-winters:
https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/camden-for-europe-discussion-trade-policy-and-uk-relations-with-the-eu-tickets-28085029078.

PUBLIC MEETING
Tuesday 18th October, 7.30 pm. A public meeting on the EU and Brexit organised by Camden’s MP for Holborn & St Pancras, Sir Keir Starmer, with the panel also including Sarah Hayward, Leader of Camden Council and Camden’s other MP, for Hampstead & Kilburn, Tulip Siddiq. If you require any further information, or if you would like to raise specific concerns about the EU referendum result and next steps, you are invited to contact Keir Starmer’s office on 020 7219 6324. It will take place at St Pancras Church, Euston Rd, London NW1 2BA. Click on the link below to register.
http://www.keirstarmer.com/public_meeting_about_the_eu_referendum_and_brexit.

STEERING GROUP
The steering group continues to meet regularly and if you would like to help the group with its work please email newsletter@camdenforeurope.org.
The group’s current thinking is that we will affiliate to Britain for Europe which will involve formalising our membership, agreeing a basic constitution and so on. An update on this to follow in the next edition.

RECENT ACTIVITIES

MEETINGS WITH OTHER GROUPS

Britain for Europe (BfE) national meeting. Philip Richmond represented Camden for Europe at the 2nd national meeting in Bristol on 24 September. This is a cross-party campaign for the UK to remain in the EU – as far as we are aware the only such campaign.  It aims to resist the triggering of Article 50, to mitigate Brexit by seeking the best deal in negotiations and to support a pro-EU stance within Britain, but there is clearly still work to do on the strategy. At the meeting it was agreed that there should be regional groups (i.e. committees) based on European Parliamentary constituencies and these would be elected by local groups such as ours. The committees would help create and provide support to local groups and would be represented on a UK Governing Council. This body would set national policy and appoint an executive.  Election to the Council is scheduled for the next meeting in Birmingham on 5th November following consultation on a model constitution for local and regional groups and on a system for elections. For more details of this consultation contact Philip – Philipnw5@gmail.com.

London Pro-EU Forum meeting. Philip Richmond and Nick Pimlott represented Camden for Europe on 28th September. There was some criticism of the Britain for Europe strategy (by those who think Article 50 should be accepted) and it seems unlikely this entity will affiliate as the London region. The Camden for Europe steering group will be discussing how to facilitate the formation of such a region, as we are in touch with several other London based groups.

Islington in Europe. There was a meeting with the Islington group on 25th September. It has the same objective as us – the UK to stay in the EU. It was agreed we should remain two separate groups – this preserves the grassroots connection and ensures two sources of ideas for activities. We will, however, have a single newsletter sent to both mailing lists, possibly combine the websites in due course, press BfE to adopt a visible national advocacy role, and conduct programmes of events open to those on the mailing lists of both groups. These will be about both the public issues and the campaigning strategy.

STREET STALL
A successful street stall was held on 19th September at King’s Cross – a good spot. There were plenty of people who said they were pleased to see we were still campaigning, although others were not quite sure why we were still campaigning given the referendum has now happened. We probably need a stronger simple message to explain why we are here and what we are campaigning for. Please send ideas on this, and for a slogan that can sum it up, to newsletter@camdenforeurope.org.

WHAT’S GOING ON ELSEWHERE

We are not reporting much this week. But this blog by the Austrian Chancellor is interesting:
https://www.socialeurope.eu/2016/09/europe-must-become-fair-again/
It raises issues about what Europe is for – see next section.

OTHER CONTRIBUTIONS FROM READERS

WHAT IS THE EU FOR?
An email discussion has started. Here are some contributions. Please join in by writing to newsletter@camdenforeurope.org.

From Alastair Bruton
In the C21st, there are major areas of public policy — eg regulating markets and multinationals,  the environment, fishing and agriculture, trade negotiations, and aspects of tax, crime, security, defence and foreign policy — which are much better handled by supra-national organisations. This isn’t just about Europe. Much the same trend towards international cooperation has been strengthening around the world since the mid-C20th – producing the UN, NATO, IMF, WTO etc etc.The dull but vital function of the EU (and it’s way ahead of ALL the others in this respect) is to provide an institutional structure in which voters can keep at least some democratic control over all these decisions.
But clearly no one will ever love the EU if that’s how it defines itself. So here’sthe second part of my answer: the fundamental point of the EU is to encourage in every possible way, whether in business or academia, government or the arts,  the free and open interaction  of ideas among Europe’s innumerable cultures and traditions so that everywhere from Limerick to Bucharest, Gdansk to Lampedusa, the challenge of difference is met not dodged and instead of violence and hatred, the clash of ideas spurs creativity leading to a better life for everyone.
One clear lesson of the Brexit vote is that where people are confident about their identity and about their future – as in London – this ‘challenge of difference’ does indeed spur creativity and make for a better life for everyone. But where people have little hope in the future and feel their way of life to be threatened, it clearly doesn’t. So if anyone in the UK were ever to want to make the EU attractive to voters again, their first reforms would have to focus on ensuring that the whole country shared in the prosperity etc currently hoarded by the metropolitan few. Virtually all the anger and resentment expressed in the Brexit vote is derived from the failings of domestic UK government.
In Britain, the other big problem in selling the EU to voters is that politicians have been telling them whoppers for so long. So I think that the most important  thing that we can do now, is to tell the truth however radical it may seem. Voters are sick of being patronised by politicians as if they were children who can’t understand.
[However] protecting people from the material consequences of globalisation isn’t — and shouldn’t be — the job of the EU. It simply doesn’t have the democratic legitimacy to require massive transfers of wealth either among its members.
The EU shouldn’t do anything that individual member-states can do better for themselves — just as member-state governments shouldn’t do anything that their own regions and city governments can do better.

A response from Charles Seaford
As Alastair rightly says, the EU should indeed avoid doing anything that individual member-states can do better for themselves and also it will be a long time before it has the legitimacy to require massive transfers of wealth between its members. However many of the areas of public policy that Alastair mentions are in part designed to protect people from the material consequences of globalisation, suggesting there are good reasons why a supra-national organisation is sometimes better equipped to perform this function than a national government. Using this headline for what Alastair calls the boring functions is, I suggest, more likely to be effective, and in a way is more honest, than attempting to create a second purpose (the challenge of difference) designed to provide inspiration. The latter may appeal to people like us, but it will be a very long time before it has mass appeal – as Alastair more or less implies.

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