I occasionally write about the lack of strategy, structure, cohesion, collective capability and leadership in the Remain / Rejoin movements. Once again, with a heavy heart, I must report that the chronic organisation development issues which divide us remain (sic) alive and kicking. This article concerns senior members of Grassroots for Europe, overseen by the CEO of The European Movement and its chair Lord Andrew Adonis. For some months I have attempted to resolve a worrying problem with a concerted smear campaign against me by senior people at Grassroots for Europe and The European Movement. I have had no reply in private from CEO Anna Bird, so I have reluctantly decided to go public. Here is a summary in the form of my letter to the EM CEO:
The WhatsApp group where much of this smearing takes place is overseen by Anna Bird and Lord Andrew Adonis, thus they are complicit in the campaign, by ‘letting it happen’. Andrew does not like uncomfortable truths and blocks people who he disagrees with. Thus I have no route to resolution with him.
The ‘mob’ also follow the leader, sometimes without knowledge of the facts of a given cased. This is not without consequence. For example, I have been blocked from attending the March to Rejoin. I was blocked from attending a meeting with Gavin Esler. The ‘mob’ also asked that professional EM groups and affiliates in Sussex and Merseyside ‘deplatform’ me from speaking at events and so on. I mean, WTF are they frightened of?
I actively promote pro-European and anti-Brexit views and am perhaps more vigorous than many at a grassroots and strategy level, so I cannot understand their desire to silence me. Then again, I have worked on Brexit for 6 + years and I ‘get’ organisational illnesses etc. from my professional life as a business and organisational consultant. I’m hoping that Anna Bird will now make this nonsense stop and remove Richard Wilson and the other ringleaders from power. Here are some examples of the online smearing below – it is persistent and wearing. I cannot write to Richard Wilson to deal with the matter quietly, as he also adopts the Vote Leave strategy of blocking people he does not agree with.
It’s possible to see the level of confusion in these groups. For example, Lynne Armstrong manages to confuse me with Peter Corr, the leader of the March to Rejoin, but it does not stop her from condemning my / his work. In fact it’s unclear exactly who she is condemning. Other European Movement execs appear to join in with the ‘herd impunity’. For example, Emma Knaggs admits that she knows nothing about my work, but, of course, feels she must agree with those in power. She is also badly informed: Despite her assertion to the contrary, I remain Chair of The European Movement Mid Kent. Following a review by the Council chaired by Dominic Grieve QC I was confirmed in the position. My removal was an exec decision made by Anna Bird, without approval or authority of the EM. This, of course, mirrors the approach of The Conservatives re Brexit. It is quite surprising from an organisation that promotes transparency, open-ness and diversity.
In my professional life, I work with chronic organisational problems like this. When politics / egos and so on are added to the complexity, these issues become insoluble. I had offered my services for free to EM way back to help make them match fit, but they refused to accept professional help. Ostrich thinking and silos are not good enough if we are to build a movement fit to take Vote Leave on. As a result I have little confidence in Grassroots / EM’s abilities. Help can still be given but I’m not hopeful that they are in listening mode. One of their groundfloor troops, Magdalena Williams has recently stepped into the fray on Twitter.
There is a long list of people who have actively initiated and / or amplified this campaign. Others have passively supported or allowed the campaign to spread. In no particular order: Richard Wilson, Colin Gordon, Yvonne Wancke, Chris Hammond, Anna Bird, Lord Adonis, Robina Jacobson, Peter Packham, NE for Europe, SSTIE, Sue Wilson, Bremain in Spain, Doug at SODEM, Magdalena Williams, some of the SODEM gang, Lynne Armstrong, Emma Knaggs, Patrick Reynolds. There is a longer list of people who hide in the shadows … come out into the light please.