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Author Archives: Peter Cook

About Peter Cook

When I was five years old, I wanted to be in The Beatles, but all the jobs were taken … By the age of 12, I wanted to be a scientist and I became one. At the age of 18 I took a job with a philanthropic pharmaceutical company, working around the world and developing the first human insulin, novel medicines for herpes and to bring the first HIV / AIDS treatment to the world in record time. This means that I bring a scientific mind, curiosity and rigour to your enterprise. By the age of 30 I had developed an interest in business leadership and began teaching MBA programmes, having completed 3.5 degrees myself. At 34, I took myself out of a paid job and, for the last 28 years, I have worked independently as a consultant, author and speaker with people at all levels all over the world, helping them to transform their enterprises. My clients seek to balance their passions, purposes and profit for a more responsible and sustainable form of capitalism in the 4th industrial age. I also help leaders digest what we call "wicked problems and opportunities", in other words, the issues that keep them awake at night, using a unique mixture of divergent and convergent thinking skills. My 28 years of consultancy experience bring a wealth of expertise and wisdom to you, in enterprises as diverse as Unilever to the United Nations. Along the way, I have written 12 books on leadership, innovation and creativity, gaining a prize for my work from Sir Richard Branson and various accolades from Professors Charles Handy, Adrian Furnham, Tom Peters et al. Over some 50 years, I have gradually combined my three passions of science, business and music into a potent mixture which reaches the head, heart and soul of your enterprise. In combination, your enterprise benefits from rigour, analytics and curiosity due to my science and business background, plus the emotional intelligence, creativity and improvisation skills that come from my life as a music composer and producer. As a musician I have been privileged to interview world class musicians such as Roberta Flack, John Mayall, AC / DC, members of Prince’s ensembles, Queen's production team and Meatloaf's singing partners for their insights into leadership, innovation and success. I am a passionate advocate for better politics and better business for a better world, fighting populist politicians and short-termism in our global affairs. I am an "HR" person, i.e. a "Hippy Realist": green by ideals, but pragmatic by actions to change the world towards more sustainable behaviour.
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.

Comedic leadership

It seems to me that people don’t understand the difference between a comedian and a world leader. This video makes the distinctions clear:

In case you are confused:

Johnson was at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI). The expectation was for a speech on business, not some ravings on a day out at a theme park.

A good sense of humour is indeed useful as a leader and as a device to be used as part of a presentation. It should not overwhelm the content of the speech. Johnson’s speech was content free. When Johnson said that most people would have got his point he was right, because there was no content and therefore no point.

Garry Honey reports “contacts in the FCO say Johnson was the worst minister in living memory who could never master the detail. Just because you can win elections doesn’t mean you are leadership material, track record will catch up with you!”

When Peppa Pig is more comprehensible than a world leader it is time to call time on the comedy act.

When Foreign Secretary Johnson was tasked with securing the release from captivity of a UK citizen in Iran, he went off script and said ‘she had been training journalists’ with the result that Nazanin Ratcliffe’s sentence was increased and she remains in captivity today.

We will fight them on the, uh… thingumies… forgive me… I uh… blast it… forgive me… BEACHES! Yes, that’s it, beaches, haha! Now, where was I? We’ll uh… oh cripes, who put these notes together? Probably some blasted foreigner. Anyway, uh… forgive me…. You get the general picture…. I make model buses… Oh look over there! An eagle! Thank you Marcus Richardson

Johnson is a national disgrace.

Day of Action

The European Movement held a day of action yesterday. Here are some of the image from events across the country.

My own contribution was in some 1:1 Brexorcisms in cafes and bars throughout the day and evening.

Our next action is to Get the Tories out in Sidcup and Old Bexley. Join us next Saturday via Sidcup and Old Bexley.

https://twitter.com/CampaignJane/status/1462082407025287169?s=20
Sheffield
Oswestry
Lewes
Swindon
Norfolk
Lambeth

Swansea
Cobham
Leamington

Railway Modeller

Levelling down

Here’s our latest piece of satire, based on the familiar railway magazine beloved of Boris Johnson when he is not painting Brexit buses:

Find all our work at Gutterpress – click the image

Read The Financial Times to follow the story of Johnson’s U Turn on the Northern Powerhouse. Some trainspotting notes:

The Diesel in Thomas the Tank Engine was known to be the most belligerent, paranoid, devious and neurotic engine on the SODOR railway. Fitting then that Priti Patel should take the footplate with her £77 000 lashes.

Jennifer Arcuri reported that Boris Johnson offered to be the throttle to power her business. Was this an Alan Partridge metaphor?

Meanwhile, there will be no return to steam or diesel power on Britain’s rail network, as there won’t be a northern rail network. Another Johnson promise broken. If we really needed HS2, it was the part connecting the northern cities rather than the piece we have darn sarf, taking maybe 20 minutes off the journey time to London.

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Priti Vin Diesel – sorry about Ringo

A letter from Germany

From Heike Wilms

Dear Mr Johnson,

Before the referendum I hoped for a remaining Britain. After the leave decision I hoped for negotiations that would lead to an amicable agreement underlining the friendly relationship between Britain and EU / between our countries Britain and Germany.

I live in North Rhine – Westphalia, for decades next door to British neighbours – enjoying common activities, the Scottish “Fish and Chips” dealer serving the English quarter and its neighbourhood and the opportunity to learn from each other, to improve my school English, after my teachers had given up at an early point and told me, that I will never be able to communicate in English.

I was a member at Tate and loved to visit the gorgeous exhibitions, celebrating quiet moments on the member cafes terrace aside the river Thames, Ethiopian food at Old Borough market, together with an CDI from the Metropolitan Police I built up a network for male victims of trafficking and exploitation cooperating with several London charities and EUroPol.

I still have friends in England, Wales and Scotland and so I realised the differences between those parts of UK. I never experienced United Kingdom as a divided Kingdom.

I was used to receiving my favourite British treats and things. I loved the easy traveling to visit each other, as I can still do it all over Europe with member states. To me it is a highly valued gift, that there are no borders and through so many different cultures. I am allowed to experience this at any time I like. I can even work where I like and my children have a huge choice to study, where they want to. They decided to study in East Germany including single semesters abroad to learn about more diverse cultures.

Now it takes weeks to get chocolate from my favourite British chocolatier – and on top of this, he is not allowed to send dairy chocolate treats – just dark vegan seems to be allowed. Customs even sent them back and he had to make a declaration of contents and I had to pay extra costs for the tariffs. For small mugs a friend sent I also had to pay a toll. To send a parcel to Britain has become really expensive in general and I still do not have a real clue as to what is allowed and what is forbidden to send.

I have no idea how to get my traditional Lindt treats to your country to spoil my friends around Christmas. My friends are also insecure, as to what it takes to be allowed to travel to my place and had to get passports, which was not as easy as they expected, so they had to change the date to meet me In Germany.

I am upset and sad how difficult it had become to care for our friendship.

And apart from that I had to experience, how friends in Britain got divided in Remainers and Brexiters, and as a German I know very well how long it takes to get a divided nation reunited. We are still not reunited, there are still wounds, which aren’t healed and are just superficially covered in West and East Germany. It led to a high number of nationalists in the right political corner in East Germany, it led to populism, as feeding a fire is much easier than putting it out. And to build up something new on a burned ground needs common goals, which is a challenging process between divided parties.

It so sad to see that happening with your country, which I saw as a bastion and fighter for democracy, multicultural living and tolerance.

On top, I wonder, when I look at empty shelves and petrol stations running out of gasoline, are there advantages of Brexit and a so called sovereignty? Can nationalism without a strong bonding to neighbour countries bring anything good? I might be more sensible for that due to my heritage as a German.

I can’t see any so far, to me most things have become more complicated and the division will bring disadvantages over generations worst case. The trade agreements with new Zealand and Australia, appear to me like feeding big companies while getting British farmers and small enterprises starving and on the edge / on risk of losing everything.

I am also concerned about Ireland and the vulnerable peace progress between this divided island and how that will affect the relation between Britain and EU.

In my view and experience, I always saw Britain as a critical voice and strong part of the EU to develop a strong union without losing sight on the big picture and as well on national interests.

I write to you hoping that my concerns get heard – and that I may get an answer about the positive benefits of Brexit that would make sense to me.

I miss my uncomplicated relation to Britain and the comfortable years , when it was so easy and cheap to cultivate my friendships. And I miss the feeling of being welcome in general, I feel at a distance.