Friday, 16 February 2018

York for Europe - Harnessing that Viking Spirit

York for Europe is the all singing all dancing pro-European group (without the dancing) which was formed by combining the remnants of the Stronger-In campaign with the nascent York 48% Group.  The group has grown to over 500 members on Facebook and counts among its subscribers a former MP, the former and present Lord Mayors of York, parliamentary candidates for the Green and Liberal Democrat parties. The group is not affiliated to any particular party but is fully affiliated to the European Movement.  We also promote Best for Britain and Open Britain locally so are really chuffed that these groups are now working closely together.  York is privileged to be a strong ‘remainer’ city and we are forging strong links with our Yorkshire sister groups in Leeds, Sheffield, Harrogate and Hull and East Yorkshire, which in local parlance is “champion”.

York is a fairly militant centre for remain activity and happy to engage in dark Ops.  We were (with Dorset) the joint instigators of the ‘Pants to Brexit’ initiative which spawned the pop song of the same name.  The unfeasibly enormous underpants at the head of the London March in October were made in the dark satanic mills of Yorkshire (well actually a member’s garden shed but you get the picture).

Campaign highlights included a simultaneous banner drop at four points on the city walls to commemorate (commiserate) the triggering of Article 50 in March last year.  In the election we set up a vote swap website to support the conspicuously remain York Central MP Rachael Maskell (hooray) and try to topple the brexity York Outer MP and pantomime villain, Julian Sturdy (boo).  It half worked but it looks like we have a near marginal for York Outer next time.  The vote swap was covered by German magazine Der Spiegel who sent a crew over.

York is also the birthplace of the ‘Cake Not Hate’ model for campaign stalls which has been successfully exported to a number of other local groups.  Our rationale is that it’s difficult for anyone to argue convincingly with you when their face is stuffed with free cake.  We also encourage people to try a range of alternative bakery products including the Norwegian option and the less popular WTO option which consists of a few lonely crumbs on a paper plate.

We have done some serious stuff too.  In May, A C Grayling addressed us and in October as part of the 12 Regional Rallies initiative, we collaborated with the University of York Law School to host a European Citizenship event with a stellar line up of Prof Michael Dougan, Dr Charlotte O’Brien, Richard Corbett MEP, Natalie Bennett (Green Party former Leader) and Stuart Hand, Field Campaigns Director of Open Britain.