The battle to stay in the EU is now very much on.
This is an excellent briefing written on the EU referendum by Martin Holst, our South West Rep. There are also some extremely useful resources and further reading at the bottom:- be careful, even the most ardent Eurosceptic may be convinced!!
The ‘Christian’ Case
I am attempting to present the Christian case for 'IN', and to find a way to do so with ‘starter questions’ which enable us to know where people stand. I want to be able answer the points they make rather than launch straight into a prepared statement:
"Would the world be a better place if the EU had never been conceived, and now, if it were to disintegrate, each nation go its own way?"
I would try to follow this up by suggesting that we should be proud to be part of the EU, and the contribution we have made, and are making towards its success. It is not perfect, but then neither are we. The same question could apply to other international institutions such as the European Court of Human Rights, NATO, and for that matter the UN. We have the opportunity for influence in all of them and 'punch above our weight' not simply to protect our own interests but also for the good of all humankind.
"After centuries of conflict, why is now war between EU countries not only unthinkable, but unimaginable to the younger generation?"
I would concede that NATO has played its part in preventing war since WWII, but peace is more than the absence of war. Consider the culture the EU has encouraged in insisting on democracy, helping disadvantaged regions to become prosperous, free movement of citizens for work and pleasure etc. etc.
Arguing the case.
I have been to an excellent training session conducted by Clare Moody, our South West Labour MEP. The most important piece of advice was to absorb the hostility and including quotes from UKIP et al. Avoid telling people directly they are wrong, or giving hostile body language. Then, dispel the myths and go on to the positive case for being in the EU.
The briefing materials I have received are excellent. Everyone seems to agree that 'migrants' will be the most important issue to address. You can find access to these materials at the end of this article.
I have written to my MP (Conservative) hoping that might get him 'on the right (or rather the Left) side' I have quoted to him another Conservative, Gary Streeter who is a member of the Church we once belonged to in Plymouth:
"I could not list many advantages of Brexit (British exit), apart from ill-defined notions of freedom and sovereignty, but I am not sure what those splendid ideals mean in practice in such an inter-dependent world. Emotionally I am attracted to them, but we have to be hard-headed as well.
The clincher was the knowledge that if we came out of the EU but sought to enter a free trade agreement (like Norway and Switzerland) we would still have to comply with the rules of the single market, including the freedom of movement. So Brexit would not solve the immigration issue that concerns so many. What then have we gained, especially as we would no longer be able to shape the rules of that single market?"
On the map, members of the EU are in blue, and potential members in the future in brown.
Call their bluff?
One suggestion: call the bluff of those who favour Brexit, especially if your MP is one of them. Ask them precisely what specific thing that EU rules stop them doing. Our last Government tried to exempt firms who ‘posted’ workers to the UK, from paying the minimum wage – they did not ‘get away with it’. This would have undercut UK jobseekers!
We hope you have some excellent conversations and that this guide has been useful to you. Do let us know the answers you get!
National Executive member for the South West Region.
Resources you might find useful:
[PDF] European Parliamentary Labour Party - Doorstep guide to Europe. This is short and to the point.
[PDF] "Euro-Myths". This is a powerful leaflet: typical falsehoods put out by UKIP, the gutter press and others, followed by clear retorts.
[PDF] "What has Europe ever done for us?" Very good in letting us know about things we now take ‘too much for granted’. It shows how Labour MEPs who are committed to UK interests can, and indeed have, made a huge difference.
[PDF] Workers Rights - Unite the Union put the case for all the ways the EU protects and promotes workers and jobs in the UK.
[PDF] This is a TUC report for the SouthWest region. Far from saying that immigrants/migrants/asylum seekers threaten workers it makes the case for the positives effects of migration. Each Region needs its own guide of this type, but there are some useful national statistics.
[PDF] Institutions of The European Union - gives a clear diagram and explanation of the EU, the Eurozone, the European Economic Area, the Schengen Area and others. If you can recognise national flags, you can tell which nations are included in what!
[Website] Very Clear Mythbusters, all the errors seen in the press can be corrected here! This website not only dispels myths, but also gives clear evidence on the facts. From the website of Labour MEP for Yorkshire, Richard Corbett.