Friday, June 03, 2016

EU Leicester Rally - Leading NOT Leaving

Uplifting pro-EU rally/meeting under the motto "Leading NOT Leaving" in Leicester yesterday, organised by the European Movement (of which Charles Kennedy was president from 2004 until his death exactly one year ago), with:
  • Sir Vince Cable - Former Deputy Leader of the Lib Dems and former Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills
  • Liz Kendall - Labour MP for Leicester West
  • Caroline Lucas - Green Party MP and former Green Party Leader
  • Anuja Prashar - Executive (Treasurer) European Movement UK and Lib Dem former parliamentary candidate
The speakers were in good form and admirably managed to leave party-politically differences behind, (almost) entirely. The speakers were in agreement about the need for EU reform. Caroline Lucas quite rightly pointed out that the same applies to Westminster [applause]. On that note, see previous reflections on PR here. Advance preparation for the discussion session after the motivational speeches enabled me to get the following points across:
  • Andrew Rawnsley's description of Boris Johnson as an "incorrigible attention-seeker", and  Guardian columnist Matthew d'Ancona's reference to the situation as an "Eton mess", including his memorable statement: A battle between two Etonians is a poor way to decide what kind of country we want Britain to be.
  • 'Sound bite statement' from my blog entry of 3 March: After the madness of WWI and WWII, it would be fundamentally crazy to undermine the foundations of the 'unity' achieved since then, not to mention environmental aspects.
  • Paraphrasing from a recent 30-minute interview* with Joschka Fischer, who is described in Wikipedia as a leading figure in the West German Greens since the 1970s and was German Foreign Secretary (Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs) from 1998 to 2005 (cf. reflections on PR referred to above) and President of the Council of the European Union for six months in 1999 (see here for speech), in which he reflected on his experience in Council meetings: God, how tedious and boring these meetings often were, at times verging on the absurd... But then I thought: hang on a minute, there were times during my father's and grandfather's era, when this kind of debate was carried out on battlegrounds. Wouldn't you rather put up with tedium?
    *Political correspondent Florian Eders described the interview (in German) in yesterday's edition of his Politico Morgen Europa briefing – see here.

Joschka Fischer's reflections attracted a round of applause and were picked up by the event chair in his closing remarks, in which he referred to his own father and grandfather and the respective wars.

A Leicester Mercury report on the event can be found here.