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Monthly Archives: August 2021

A Better Medway

A Better Medway

Two areas of Medway have elections coming up and a better Medway is needed.  It seems that people are rejecting the cosy coalition of the two-party system in the towns, now that the effects of Brexit + COVID are becoming apparent in what has been termed a “Britastrophe”.  The UN red alert on climate has flagged up the long-term impact of Brexit on climate change:

  • More disaster capitalism means tax avoidance and non-payment of taxes in nation states.  This is bad for our environmental stewardship and our reputation as a world leader in ethical politics
  • A bonfire on standards leads to moral hazard in product manufacture, with a return to shoddy products made in sweatshops and environmentally damaging materials.  One hairdresser in Chatham told me that she was looking forward to the day when she could once again used banned chemicals on her clients’ hair.  She seemed unconcerned that the chemicals are carcinogens when I explained as a Chemist.
  • More global trade = more carbon footprint.  You may say, I don’t care, but what legacy do we hand on to future generations.

Locally in Strood North, overdevelopment of the Hoo Peninsula is leading to the destruction of sensitive environments and threatens to gridlock residents in the Medway towns.  Residents also have concerns about schools, lack of social housing, overdevelopment, litter, public transport and the capacity of the NHS to cope under Johnson’s sale of the century.  It also seems that the issue that dare not speak its name aka Brexit is also causing residents real concerns. It starts to become clear that Brexit was not really about taking back control except in the sense that it has enabled Boris Johnson to give unprecedented amounts of taxpayers money to his cronies and blame all economic, social and political problems on COVID.  Closer to home, food shortages are becoming visible as people realise that we are no longer self-sufficient in food.  With a shortage of 100 000 foreign lorry drivers, the supply of 2000 HGV army drivers from the “Royal Cucumber Corps” is not going to make up the difference.  Walking into Aldi in Strood lettuces are already brown in the displays.  Yes, I know Aldi operate a Just in Time system system, but the food is not supposed to be rotten in the supermarket.  This is just an hors d’ouevre …

Brands Hatch in Strood

Peter Bonney, an ex-deputy headteacher is a local activist for a 20 MPH speed limit in the rat runs along these roads in a congested part of Strood Weston, Cromer, Gordon, Jersey, Bryant, Brompton Lane, Cliffe Road etc.  Peter is the model of an activist, having organised petitions, letters and been given airtime at the local council with his proposal.  He thought all was well when he gained a warm reception across the political spectrum, but then the views of councillors were crushed by Councillor Alan Jarrett for no reason.  Jarrett is a seasoned professional who I have dealt with.  Prospective Green Councillor Cat Jamieson is to take the issue up.  There are many schools in the area and the use of the rat runs presents both a safety issue for children and an environmental issue for all the residents.

People driving at 40 miles and hour up the road is an accident waiting to happen

Overdevelopment

Residents in Brompton Farm Road are concerned about the issue of overdevelopment on the Hoo Peninsula with houses for 30 000 people proposed in a sensitive natural habitat for birds and other wildlife.  One resident described the problem:

“Boris the Builder just wants to build, build, build and the local Tory Councillors support this so they can line their pockets.  Meanwhile Labour are just supine.  We need an independent voice to hold Medway Council to account”.

It’s not just the people on the periphery of Hoo that are concerned.  The housing development will also put pressure on the arterial roads into Strood centre, placing still more pressure on the rat runs. There are also issues with the lack of social housing in the new Riverside developments around the area of Strood Station.

Transport connectivity is key if we are to reduce our reliance on cars

Cat responded to the call from residents:

“Greenwashing won’t wash.  We need to plan development within the towns in ways that are sustainable and sensitive to residents’ needs.  In some cases, that means just saying NO.  In other cases, it will be about finding much better ways to think about our natural resources in consultation with community leaders.  What we have now is local government by diktat. We must Act Now, before the Green Belt turns Brown”.

The Green Party will hold the Conservatives (and the “official” opposition) to account if elected.  Since there is already one Conservative and one Labour candidate, voters can cast their vote for a truly independent voice in the knowledge that they are not eliminating one of the parties, but simply enriching the mixture of views to make better decisions.

The Hoo Peninsula

Find out more about voting Green at The Green Party.

Join us at our event with Professor AC Grayling.

Connecting the Branches

I am presently applying for Branches Forum Chair at The European Movement with an election on September 04 on ZOOM. Here is my short and longer pitch:

Some thoughts on the challenges ahead as final nominations for The European Movement branches forum chair close this afternoon Monday 09 August.  You will have a choice of at least two candidates.

Yvonne Wanke and I have spoken about the needs of The European Movement going forward.  Having campaigned together at events in London and Barnard Castle, I’m glad to have friendly competition.  Free and fair elections will strengthen our Movement by making it more accountable to you and your groups.  Mass membership means making our Movement fully accountable to our members.

Over the past few days people have rung me with questions, suggestions and comments.  Please feel free to call with any issues anytime on 07725 927585 – it will be great to hear your views and to get to know your concerns.

Ageing  The average age of our Movement is over seventy.  We must also engage with a younger and more diverse audience.  This is very much in the hands of your branches and affiliates: you and your groups are our Movement’s bedrock.  My own branch has recruited a wider audience via various activities involving music, stunts, writing and regular online events.  Most recently, I engaged a rapper and a soul singer in our call to action titled “We Are Everywhere”.  We need to unite and work together to attract more people to our cause.

Organising  Our Movement faces necessary organisational development issues to make us stronger.  Some complex issues will require skilful facilitation and navigation of differing viewpoints, but with shared will we can find common ground.  The recent BARNS report vote has left “unfinished business” and it’s vital we resolve this constitutionally.  We cannot keep dodging difficult choices.  For example, to campaign effectively and highlight Britain’s Brexit failings, we need to fix Nationbuilder together with our invaluable staff.

With over twenty-five years of dealing with so-called “wicked problems” across the world – in organisations as diverse as the Metropolitan Police, the NHS, Pfizer, United Nations, Unilever – I pledge to you my undivided focus and energy as we enlarge our Movement and build on past successes.  As the oldest pro-European Movement in the country, we have a history to be proud of.  I will uphold our Movement’s traditions and ensure those at the centre do likewise.

Strategies to Rejoin  We recently started a project producing scenarios to re-apply for EU membership, aiming for a shared vision on the most probable routes.  Already we have a series of event strings, which need further input and consolidating into narratives to engage and unite our activities.  If you would like to contribute, please call for a chat on 07725 927585, write in, or join our weekly ZOOM event every Monday at 8pm.  Please note the items in blue are not entirely serious! 😊.  Such blue sky brainstorming helps create a unity of spirit and purpose as people share ideas and solutions in an engaging and relaxing way.

Beyond the bubble  We cannot shift minds on Brexit merely by preaching to the converted, nor can we rely on demographic changes alone.  We must reach outside of the bubble that has been created as a result of our disunited Kingdom.  Superb initiatives such as the Euro Cafés reflect what I have also done locally.  Our Movement has developed many great approaches across the country. Now we must build on these to deal with sensitivity and grace with the concerns and beliefs of leave voters. I feel honoured to have worked on such grassroots projects with branches and affiliates alike from the North to the South.  We need to share the good will around so that groups can adapt approaches to local contexts.

Media  Branches and affiliates can shift the Brexit narrative by reaching parts of the media national organisations cannot.  Much social opinion is embedded in what people consume in local papers and from the resulting social media comments.  Through well placed letters, commentaries on articles, op-ed pieces in local newspapers, radio and TV interviews plus phone-ins, our groups’ social media amplification can change the “diet” of what people consume in the media on Brexit.  Some of our branches and affiliates are experts on this and we should spread the word.

The Branches Forum is a vital part of our operations.  We have opportunities to extend our impact within communities, sectors and regions by uniting in diversity to power our movement forward in every street, village, town and city.  I write to you to introduce myself as a candidate for Branches Forum Chair at The European Movement.  I have included a one page synopsis of my offer below.  A longer document is available on request which explains my full background for those who perhaps don’t know so much of my work for the pro-European cause and you can always check out my Linkedin profile if you wish.  For several years now, my personal mission is one that embraces everyone and which is consistent with Object 2 of the EM constitution and which relies crucially on our Branch network.  

A Better Britain in a Better Europe for a Better World

I intend to make a valuable contribution to groups (branches and affiliates alike), Chairs and the wider EM UK membership, based on significant experience as a business leader, strategic adviser, grassroots activist and prolific writer / presenter across the mainstream media for our common cause.  

I see the Branches Forum Chair role as that of a “gardener”, helping to germinate ideas, providing nutrients to convert embryonic ideas into action, cross-pollination of initiatives and so on to help branch chairs and committees develop, grow and strengthen their groups.  I will contribute significant time to branch development, to increase meaningful collaboration and connections between groups.  At the same time, an imperative for our movement is to engage a younger more diverse demographic and that relies on a strong network of Branches, suitably resourced, trained and equipped to engage people from outside our traditional demographic.

If you and or your committee members would like to meet me, to ask questions and so on, just call me on 07725 927585, or we can set up an informal meet and greet via Zoom.  I have reserved every Monday evening at 7 pm to host consultations and Q&A if you wish to join me, or directly experience one of our events at 8 pm every Monday.   

All the best

Peter Cook – Chair European Movement Mid Kent 

Profile

Routes to Rejoin

We have commenced an exploration of a number of scenarios to Rejoin the EU. Have your say by joining us every Monday at 8pm via ZOOM. Our first outputs are shown below:

Event Strings V III – short term
Event strings V III – Mid term

Our next stages are to write narratives describing pathways through the scenarios and finally to identify short, medium and longer term campaigning goals that take account of a disruptive and fast moving political environment. We must be agile and adaptive as well as focused on long term strategy to succeed.

We have also just released our latest series of visuals to compare Brexit realities with Brexit unicorns. Please support our work via Patreon or Paypal.

Peter Cook

Election FAQs

Many thanks to those who got in touch re my candidacy for the Branches Forum Chair position at The European Movement. I’ve made some responses to the issues you have wanted to know more about below:

Collaborations with Grassroots Groups and activists

There’s a very long list LOL !! Some notable entries include driving to Barnard Castle in collaboration with the EU Flag Mafia to test my eyes … Stopping along the way to deliver collaborative events with Leeds for Europe and North East for Europe in Leeds City Centre and Durham. I was the first to review the In Limbo book for an international human rights leader. Subsequently I wrote a song to amplify the book around the world, incorporating 30 spoken voice contributions from all over the world and taking three months to complete. The song reached No 1 on Amazon. I have also written Op Ed pieces for The New European, Grassroots for Europe and Hendrik Klassens, founder of the FBPE hashtag. Among the many partners I’ve collaborated with over the years, the list includes Berkshire and Hampshire for Europe, Manchester for Europe at the Tory Party Conference, Brighton and Hove for Europe at The Labour Party Conference, No 10 Vigil, Voices for Europe, Essex for Europe, SODEM, Eddisbury for Europe, Swindon for Europe, AC Grayling, Tunbridge Wells IN, The Rejoin Party, Enfield for Europe, New Europeans, Young European Movement and many more. Aside from that, I’ve just written an article for The Federal Trust on Brexit and musicians. We plan an event featuring some music giants following the release of the article. We are also about to undertake a national tour of UK with a number of branches and groups to re-engage people on the rocky road to rejoining the EU. At present the list includes Sheffield for Europe, Cornwall for Europe, EM Staffs, Glasgow Loves EU with more coming on board daily.

Our torch song we wrote to re-ignite people young and old in pro-EU activity

Diversity

Clearly it would be easy to make the critique that I’m male and pale. But I’m certainly not stale, having spent lots of my time working with young people of all persuasions in the various collaborations above. We really do need to attract different demographic and lifestyle sectors, having myself campaigned at Pride and other events. We are working at The Reading Festival this weekend with just the aim of reaching new demographics in mind. Through my personal networks, I am to engage new sectors and help develop leaders to take EM forward with a rainbow coalition of people united with the aim of building a better Britain in a better Europe for a better World.

Pride in the name of Europe – One of our performances at Pride

Uniting The European Movement

Colin Gordon from Oxford for Europe asked the question reference the BARNS reforms which are a vital part of the Organisation Development for The European Movement. I’ve simply copied his question and my answer here for transparency for all that are interested.

Colin Gordon : You may recall [see below] that I sent you on July 2nd a letter from our chair Dr Peter Burke to Andrew Adonis setting out out concerns about the BARNS proposal. We wrote about the proposal to establish a separate status and rights for branches and affiliates that “A new formal division within the largest pro-European organisation could look from outside (and inside) like a significant own goal ”. You replied to me: “I …. concur with the points in the below letter.  It is important to build the organisation as strongly as possible and I don’t think that the “own goal” serves EM well, especially at this time when we have unprecedented levels of “Brexit Apathy” within the UK and therefore the movement.” In your more recent candidate’s statement, you say that if elected you will work on “completing the BARNS reforms”. Does that mean that you support the BARNS proposals for a different constitutional status and rights for groups classed as branches and groups classed as affiliates?

Peter : The BARNS issue is a complex problem.  It rather seems that a number of internal issues were conflated with external ones and this has clearly led to disquiet amongst members.  Whilst rejecting the vote or attempting to re-run the vote have parallels with the Brexit referendum, what is wise here will be to analyse the 28% and find ways to disentangle the separate issues and find solutions or mitigations to these issues where possible.  I would offer to bring parties together to process the “unfinished business” on this matter to facilitate an equitable resolution of the matters.  This is what I do for a living.

Uniting The European Movement will not occur until there is substantive movement on the organisational issues that need addressing. This needs active intervention to harmonise the various viewpoints and will not heal by simply repeating the words unity. I say this with 27 years of experience dealing with Organisation Development (OD) issues of a complex nature at Human Dynamics.

Reaching outside the bubble

It’s vital that we reach outside the bubble as a European Movement. This means that I have targeted mainstream media outlets in collaboration with others. I realise that media coverage in populist media is outside the preferred range of some of our members, and I have recently received some private critique (and a healthy dose of praise) about it, arising from a misconception about the reasons I have done it. Yet I believe it is necessary if we are to change minds on Europe and Brexit and I just happen to be good at such things. We achieve nothing other than tea and empathy by staying inside our own safe places. I intercepted this malicious communication from Patrick Reynolds, who accidentally sent it to me without realising I was a Branch Chair. if people are going to do bad stuff, it helps to be good at the job. Patrick seemed somewhat embarrassed about this and wanted me to remove this from public view. We uncovered much more of this material being circulated on whatsapp groups and in underground chat groups. These appear to have emanated from Yvonne Wancke’s team and Grassroots for Europe, although it is not clear just who originated the smear campaigns:

From Patrick Reynolds, Sevenoaks Swanley & Tonbridge in Europe SSTIE – an alternative view from Adrian Ekins-Daukes follows:

I believe that Peter is the right person for the job since he has the qualities of, inter alia, leadership, imagination and determination to get a job done.  He is an ‘ideas’ man and a strong chairman but listens to the views of others and is open to their suggestions. He is skilled at addressing waverers on the EU and stands up vigorously for our cause against its opponents when the occasion arises. His is the style of leadership that European Movement branches need  in the present circumstances. For too long it has drifted, preoccupied with its own internal problems, communicating mainly with its own supporters and converts, and encouraging members occasionally to write letters to their MPs who disregard them. I agree that the candidate whom you support, Yvonne Wancke, possesses impeccable  qualities which would make her a very good candidate for the chair of a wide range of organisations. The European Movement, however faces opponents who are dishonest, corrupt and completely unscrupulous. Beyond Brexit, they are set on undermining our democracy and retaining power for the rest of this decade and beyond. The Movement’s leadership has been slow to recognise this in the past and there are still those who turn a blind eye to it. If we really hope to achieve our goal, we need leaders who take a tougher and more active and inventive approach than at present. Peter is the man to steer our branches along this arduous track.

I am proud that we have reached into the BBC, Guardian, France 24, ZDF, New York Times etc. AND The Mail, Sun, Express, RT and the populist press, all done with no agents, no budgets, just with an intelligent approach to PR and media relations. We cannot rely solely on demographics to help us Rejoin the EU. I will help Branches and Affiliates to leverage their talents to do this, whilst respecting that we are all made differently. Some prefer letter writing, others street events, media work and so on. All are valid, as our guide to activism shows.

Legitimacy

Another untrue rumour was raised and shared to all those with votes via WhatsApp and other messaging platforms that I had insufficient service as had only been a member for two months. This is not true. I have in fact been a member for over a year. It would have been two years but my EM membership direct debit failed the first time I applied and I did not realise for 6 months. Aside from that I have been a member of the Mid Kent EM for 4 years and was instrumental in starting our events across the area. I had eventually to write to The European Movement about these matters although they and Yvonne Wancke refused to do anything about it.

Transparency

Colin Gordon from Oxford for Europe also raised the issue of what some people perceive is the “elephant in the room”. It seems that some people are asking about this topic, so I may as well deal with it openly and honestly.

Colin Gordon : In the same email you mentioned that you were presently fighting a case of potential unfair dismissal on behalf of your son Tom, who works as senior Digital Officer at European Movement UK, and that this was impacting on your communications with EM executives and your ability to comment on EM affairs. Can I please ask whether this dispute is still ongoing, and whether there is a risk of its impacting your work, if elected, as a member of the EM Executive Committee ? Should branches considering their vote in this election be taking account of  this issue?

Update 23 November 2021 : As was expected, the matter was resolved to everyone’s satisfaction with an agreement struck. It was never relevant to decision-making and this remains the case. For transparency, I have left my reply to Colin Gordon per the original post below. I am not Dominic Cummings, nor in the business of erasing history or culture wars, so my reply below remains as was originally posted at the time.

Peter : My son’s dispute is his dispute and not mine.  I had hoped that all would have been done and dusted, but there has been an unexpected delay in completion and it is now once again on the way to finalisation.  To answer your question, the matter should not be taken account of in decision making.  I am a professional business person and that’s all that matters for my part. It is completely irrelevant to my candidacy.

Profile statement

Finally, here is my 500 word statement to help guide your decision making. I bring considerable business experience to the role, plus prolific skills in grassroots campaigning and getting our cause into mainstream media. If you have questions for me, please feel free to call me.

2016 revisited

I came across a Linkedin post that wrote just before the referendum in May 2016 entitled “Should I Stay or Should I Go“. It attracted a lot of commentary including a 2916 word essay from one chap who outlined all the benefits of Brexit. I was reminded of the article and struck by just how inaccurate his predictions were. I reminded the chap of this, an HR professional, now retired. He replied that it was a casual comment and not an essay. He then became angry as I called him to account and phoned me up to tell me to ‘lighten up”. Why would I when he has ruined future generations’ futures? Later on he removed his comment and left Linkedin to cover his tracks. I confess that this was not my finest act of Brexorcism, but nonetheless, I’m sure his essay will have appeared to have weight. I’ve summarised it here as an interesting record of Brexit illusions. The trouble is, he still believes them!! Here is a summary of the main illusions that Paul has swallowed:

TRUE : We are not leaving NATO et al

FALSE : Security implications of Brexit remain unclear

FALSE : Border and travel issues are a major source of Brexit problems

FALSE : The UK economy will benefit by Billions – in fact the reverse is true

FALSE : Farming is a shitshow under Brexit and has hardly begun. Fishing the same

FALSE : Human rights are significantly reduced under Brexit

FALSE : European workers have not continued to flock here under Brexit. We are yet to see the full impacts in transport, NHS, care, hospitality, construction and so on

FALSE : Jobs and production will not move out of UK. We have seen a steady stream of jobs leaving the UK under Brexit and again this is just the beginning

TRUE : We never lost our sovereignty. The withdrawal act stated it on the first page of the document

TRUE : You cannot eat sovereignty