Photo credit: Bruce Tanner
For the last six months, there have been unusual goings-on opposite Number 10 Downing Street. Passers-by might have seen a caricature of the Prime Minister’s head on a stick, endless creative and hard-hitting placards, a plethora of blue and yellow flags, a man impersonating the Foreign Secretary, and more… They might also have heard songs, recognisable but creatively re-imagined….’Brexit Oddity’… ‘You Ain’t Seen Brexit Yet’ and other catchy numbers.
This is the No. 10 Vigil, a tireless campaign, opposite Downing Street, to oppose Brexit in a way not achieved by politicians, journalists or economists. The target audience isn’t just Brexiteers – politicians and the Leave voting public – it’s also those Remainers who are resigning themselves to Brexit. This is a loud and clear pro-EU voice, right on the Prime Minister’s doorstep. The protest is characterised by its funny, engaging, creative, and civilised approach – plus the use of satirical music to make points.
Peter Cook, self-described ‘unusual blend of scientist, businessman and musician’, the man behind much of this work, and the Vigil’s musical director, writes in The New European this week, about the power of combining intelligent thinking with music, to have a real impact on both hearts and minds in the campaign against Brexit. Their satirical takes on popular songs are not just heard near No. 10. They played at Theresa May’s campaign hustings and plan to be heard at the Labour Party conference.
On this blog I have recently highlighted several projects confronting Brexit with creative approaches, looking to give voice, heart and soul to those who are horrified by the vote to Leave, and more horrified by the prospect of Brexit itself. I have highlighted Letters to Europe, allowing UK citizens to tell the people of the continent how much we love them from behind the wall Brexit has erected, and Retaining European Citizenship – the campaign to remind British citizens of their EU citizen’s rights and wake us up to fight their loss. We have seen In Limbo, reminding us all that there are human stories behind the rhetoric of ‘bargaining chips’ and ‘freedom of movement’ when it comes to EU citizens in the UK and Madeleina Kay’s animated children’s books about Europe. The No. 10 Vigil – and the associated musical activity from Peter Cook, which goes beyond London protests – is bringing creativity, intelligence and emotion to their fight. Daniel Barenboim recently reflected that music crosses borders like nothing else – the No. 10 Vigil are onto something.
Finally, the Remain voice, the Remain campaign, is the emotional campaign it should always have been. Whilst, during the referendum campaign, Vote Leave used emotive slogans around taking back control and appealed to the heart not the head, the Remain campaign – as led by David Cameron – was relentlessly about the economy and the logical consequences of leaving. In an interview six months ago, Nick Clegg described it as ‘bloodless’, and he was was right. But new projects in the wake of Brexit are putting the lifeblood, the soul, the emotion back into the pro-EU, anti-Brexit voice. And there is a change in the wind. They are gathering support. As more and more people lose faith with Brexit, particularly as it is playing out in the hands of the UK’s dire negotiating team, these are the voices which must remain strong. These are the voices to sustain tired Remainers, to strengthen regret-filled Leavers, and to remind those with power that Brexit is not the will of the British people, and it never really was.
Now Peter Cook has a Go Fund Me project with the following goals:
1. To undo “Parliamentary Paralysis” within the Conservative and Labour Parties. To do this, we are offering keynote addresses and performing “Songs of Brexit” with a live rock band at the Labour Party Conference in September. We are also helping to bring together celebrities such as Billy Bragg and Steve Coogan at the conference, to apply pressure to Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party to change its position on Brexit. We plan to undertake similar exercises at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester and The Lib Dem Conference in Bournemouth, targeting latent Remain MPs and wavering Brexiteers. This will include the making of some high quality film material for viral marketing purposes for double A side release “Brexit Free” and “No Jeremy Corbyn”.
2. To mastermind high profile media attention across print / TV / Radio via our multimedia grassroots protest “The No 10 Vigil” opposite Downing Street. I have just written a full feature article for The New European newspaper, featuring contributions from Gina Miller and Ozzy Osbourne’s guitarist. To gain a space in national newspapers without being a journalist or a noted figure / celebrity is incredibly difficult. It also takes considerable time. We have also had coverage in The Daily Mail, BBC Sunday Politics, BBC News, The Guardian, the Independent, ARTE, France 3 TV, The Daily Express, Breitbart, The FT etc. We plan to increase the level of quality content in the media through better quality events, letters to editors, contributions to Radio and TV using stories that capture popular interest and swing opinion amongst tired Remainers and Leavers in regret.
3. To offer a series of inspirational keynotes around the UK and Europe to change minds about Brexit.
4. To record an entire album of songs entitled “Brexit Free”, to reach deeply into popular culture and thus swing public opinion and that of Westminster MP’s. Our chosen record label partner for this is a Guinness Book of Records winner. We are presently in discussions with the man who got Rage Against The Machine to No 1 in the charts to beat Simon Cowell in order to make a popular footprint on our culture. At the same time, we aim to involve the “Pants to Brexit” people in the making of a video to support a Double A Side Single release.
The group believes that: “Brexit is bad for jobs, bad for workers rights, bad for our public services, bad for business, bad for our children, bad for our United Kingdom, socially, economically, environmentally, politically and culturally as a leading nation in a global village.”
Peter Cook and the No 10 Vigil look set to inspire more and more people to campaign, not just against Brexit, but for the vision of the united Europe so many pro-EU Brits hope will still be our future.
Support No 10 Vigil on Facebook.