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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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?
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 a 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.
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.