Melton Mowbray EU Debate - Out-numbered, Out-voted but not Out-done!

February 8, 2016 8:44 PM
By George Smid

In a dark, dark town, there was a dark, dark park. In the dark, dark park, there was a dark, dark path. On the dark, dark path, there was a dark, dark table. And around that dark, dark table there was a joyful group.

2016-02 Melton Mowbray EU Debate Stall 1The town was Melton Mowbray, the dark place was in front of the Baptist Church and the joyful group were campaigners who were there to make sure that Better Off Out campaign will not have it all their way.

Better Off Out organised a debate about the EU referendum in the local church. Bill Newton Dunn was for the Remain side and Kate Hoey for the Leave camp. We knew we will be outnumbered but still decided to go ahead. And it was a success!

Firstly, we did 'come together' across the constituencies: Not only Melton Mowbray turned up but also people from Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire. Indeed 'LibDem flock together'. We should explore that possibility in our EU referendum campaign

Secondly, we were noticed. I asked the organisers if we can campaign inside (the church was not dark). To which they said we have to go outside. But when they realised we set up a table they were upset as they did not have a table of their own. So they asked us to leave. Tricky, because we were on 'private ground'. The compromise was that we will hand out leaflets and collect signatures but will not 'debate'. So we did ruffle some feathers.

Thirdly, this was my third 'debate' with the Leavers and the pattern is repeated: well organised (around 200 people attended), with a lot of OUTers taking part (I recognised quite a few faces from my Stamford debate), scripted questions, scripted answers. The summing up of Bill Newton Dunn and James Moore drowned in shouts and hackles. 2016-02 Melton Mowbray EU Debate Stall 2

So was it worth it? When the final poll showed that 73% of the audience were in favour of Leaving, only 20% to remain and 7% undecided? I think it was.

At present this is the only way we can make our presence visible. In Kettering our councillor Brendan got a press coverage, in Melton Bill Newton Dunn had an interview with BBC Leicester. Yes, we are somehow reduced to 'guerrilla tactics', we cannot match the organisation of the Leavers but, because of that, we cannot just 'leave' them to it.

We also learned that once challenged, the OUTers are out of their depth. Their message is simple - leaving the EU will be cost free and all problems will be solved. But they never say 1) How is the EU limiting us now? And 2) How will the problems be solved? There were questions asked about immigration from commonwealth, why German trade with China is six times of the UK, how will they stop the UK tearing apart, how they propose to keep peace, deal with environment … no real answers. John Twidel has notes from the debate and if you are interested please do contact me.

Watch this space and let me know if I can help.

George

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