Four Rallies and a Funeral may sound like some sort of political RomCom, but we live in the most extraordinary political times of my life (and I go back to Harold MacMillan), which I don’t think have much to do with romance or comedy, though there may be elements of black comedy with the Rasputin of British politics, Dominic Cummings, returning to centre stage as some sort of demented Malcolm Tucker tribute act.
Plenty of rallies but where’s the funeral I hear you ask. Well, the funeral hasn’t happened yet, but if we don’t get this right, we will be attending a funeral before too long. It will be the funeral of our democracy and our hopes of a better future for the generations to come. It will be the funeral of a decent society that exists to promote solidarity among people, of an economy that provides decent livelihoods and decent working conditions for the people of this country rather than working in the interests of a greedy few. It will be the funeral of our environment with a government that has no interest in taking the measures required, nationally and internationally, to prevent runaway global warming. Stakes could hardly be higher.
So back to the four rallies.
The first one last Wednesday afternoon, held in Liverpool on St George’s plateau and supposedly an impromptu response to Boris Johnson’s prorogation announcement, was hardly a propitious start. I wasn’t there but by all accounts it was dominated by hard-left Momentum speakers who spent more time bashing Jo Swinson than Boris Johnson.
So it was not without some trepidation and misgivings that I rolled up to the midday rally on Saturday at the same location (see picture above). This was organised by Another Europe Is Possible, a movement on the left of the Labour Party that unambiguously supports Remain. However, the atmosphere was completely different; one could almost feel the yearning for unity against the Johnson Govt with its prorogation intended to take us all over the cliff of No Deal.
There were a number of impressive speeches, notably by Theresa Griffin MEP and Tom Crone (leader of Liverpool Greens), but it was our own Brenda Ashton who stole the show with an impassioned speech outlining the positive reasons for remaining in the European Union. See the blog (https://liverpoolforeurope.eu/brenda-ashton-chair-of-liverpool-for-europe-addresses-the-stop-the-coup-rally/) for the full speech.
The third rally was on Monday morning in Eastham, Wirral. The headline speaker was Gordon Brown (see above with members of Liverpool for Europe), and its unambiguous theme of stopping no-deal Brexit. Given the vicinity of the Vauxhall plant, it was no surprise that its future (severely at risk if No Deal happens) was in everybody’s thoughts and permeated all of the speeches. Other speakers were Alison McGovern (host MP), Justin Madders (MP for next-door Ellesmere Port & Neston where the Vauxhall plant is situated) and a representative from Unite the Union.
Whatever you think of Gordon Brown and his political record (and I was never personally a big fan), he is still a class act as a speaker, impressing everyone with his grasp of facts and the reality of no-deal Brexit and thoroughly deserving of his standing ovation. I also never thought very much of John Major when he was PM, but maybe it’s time to reassess their records. Compared to the crop of charlatans, liars, and incompetents dominating the politics of today, the likes of Gordon Brown and John Major appear as moral and intellectual titans.
Finally we come to the rally we ourselves held, at fairly short notice, in Hamilton Square Birkenhead (above), a few hours after the Eastham rally. The headline speaker was Alison McGovern (Labour MP for Wirral South), but there was a good cross-section of political parties represented with other speakers including Councillor Pat Cleary (Greens), Councillor Stuart Kelly (Lib Dems), and our own Carla Burns (Renew Party).
There was also a rather poignant contribution from Cosi Doerfel (In Limbo), who reminded us of the terrific strain and mental torture EU27 citizens and their families resident in this country are being put through by the whole Brexit disaster and the callousness and incompetence of the Government. I think many people in this country do not sufficiently appreciate this. (For the speeches at this rally see our blog: https://liverpoolforeurope.eu/hundreds-rally-in-birkenhead-to-stop-the-brexit-coup-all-the-speeches-here/)
I think the main impression I have gained from all this is the paramount need for unity in our struggle against the approaching disaster of No Deal and the dictatorial machinations of our tin-pot Prime Minister. Whether we are Labour, Lib Dem, Greens or whatever party (or no party at all), we have to subjugate all the natural tribal feelings that party politics normally brings forth and instead concentrate all our fire on those who are threatening us with this disaster.
I understand that this can be difficult with an election seemingly imminent, but if we get this wrong and allow no-deal Brexit to happen, party politics will seem almost irrelevant as the disaster unfolds with manufacturing industry decimated, jobs lost and livelihoods imperilled, farmers bankrupted, the NHS coming under almost irresistible strain with people’s lives put at risk, and the UK itself threatened with break-up. We must not let it happen. Stay united!