I was recently made aware of the movement to organise 12 regional anti-Brexit rallies around the UK and delighted to discover that one is to take place in my hometown, Nottingham, a city which returned an ambivalent almost 50:50 result in the Brexit referendum but is in the heart of the strongly Leave voting territory of the East Midlands.
These rallies, which will take place tomorrow, 14th October 2017, give people another chance to make their voices heard on Brexit. When we protest, it is not just about a second referendum, or to call off Brexit. It is to remind the government, and the EU leaders, that we exist too. Theresa May does not speak for us when she claims the UK never felt at home in the EU. Millions of us did. Tomorrow, we have another chance to wave our blue and yellow flags, across the country.
Speakers at the Nottingham rally include two people who have contributed to this blog, and some other excellent pro-EU voices. The latest list is:
Green Party Candidate for Nottingham East, Kimberley Town Councillor
No nonsense proactive Liberal Democrat campaigner & Parliamentary Candidate
Transformation nurse at James Paget University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Chair/Coordinator East Midlands Green Party
Chair Leicester LGBT Centre, former Liberal Democrat Town Councillor Hinckley & Bosworth
Liberal Democrat Leicestershire County Councillor, De Montford Division, Hinckley & Bosworth
And recent announcements have included Faux-Bo-Jo, Viv Pointon and Hugo Dixon. Check out the Facebook page for more.
Ahead of tomorrow’s rally in Nottingham, I was fortunate to have a chat with John Bland, one of the key organisers, about why he is dedicating so much time and energy to this.
Tell me a little about the project…
I have agreed to take the task on of steering the plans for the #StopBrexit East Midlands Regional Rally due to take place in Nottingham on Saturday 14th October. This is one of 12 similar rallies planned for every European Parliamentary Constituency in the UK and is an initiative by The 48%/The 48AndBeyond.
The rally will take place under the gaze of the Brian Clough Memorial Statue in Nottingham between 2pm and 5pm. Brian Clough was famous for his forthright comments and whilst we don’t know what he would have made of Brexit, we do know that he saw the significance of Europe from this quote after Notts Forest won the Anglo-Scottish cup in 1976:-
“You’d think we had won the European Cup that night. We were drunk on success – which, bearing in mind it was the Anglo-Scottish Cup was like being drunk on half a pint of shandy”
Why did you take on the role of organiser?
I took on this role for the same reason that I agreed to become Chair of the Lincolnshire branch of the European Movement:
Until 2015, whilst following politics I took no active role, I was quite happy pursuing my hobby of family history and pottering in the garden. In May 2015 everything changed. There was going to be a referendum on our membership of the European Union. I knew I had to become more involved in readiness for that referendum.
I grew up seeing my father take part in Dunkirk Veteran parades and had witnessed first hand those men remembering those who never found their way home from the beaches. As a consequence, a united Europe for me was a no-brainer. I can remember when our country was called the ‘Sick Man of Europe’ before we joined the EEC and know just how far we have come. It just made no sense to tear up what has been built over the last 40 years.
I campaigned for Stronger In in local towns in South Lincolnshire and took on the role of referendum agent for Stronger In, meaning I had to attend the local count. I had to face the local Vote Leave co-ordinator and my local MP celebrating each bad result for Remain and clearly attempting to wind me up.
I know how I felt inside. They were celebrating whilst the international reputation of the country I love was being trashed. I had to witness my MP crack open a bottle of champagne, whilst the pound was collapsing.
I knew what I wanted to do that night, but I found myself a quiet spot and vowed not to get mad, but to get even. That is why I agreed to help establish the Lincolnshire branch of the European Movement and that is why I agreed to do what I can for this rally.
What are your aims for the rally?
I am hoping that the rally will enthuse pro-Europeans throughout the East Midlands to put aside despair and anger, to put aside parochial party politics and to come together to begin to campaign to bring a halt to Brexit in every town and city throughout the region.
I am also hoping that the Crowdfunder for the rally will not only fund the rally costs, but will also result in a surplus that will be shared between the four European Movement branches that have been formed in Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire & Leicestershire thereby building a platform of support that all other campaigning groups such as the 48% constituency groups can rally around, ideally lead to a lasting legacy for all pro EU forces in the East Midlands to build upon.
I have no special skills other than my Tax training gained whilst working for the Inland Revenue which I now use to earn a living in the private sector and research skills picked up from my lifelong interest in family history which has help me to know my way around a computer and the Internet.
I am just an ordinary person who cannot stand by and rely on others to sort it out.
Find out more about other Regional Rallies here