Herefordshire for Europe meets regularly and we publish our notes for openness and transparency. Any of our 660 members can attend but only elected Executive members can vote in the unlikely event that one is needed
Summary record of a meeting of Herefordshire for Europe
6th April 2021
Present: Ben Bennett, Fenny Smith, George Longstaff, Gillian Chowns, Harriet Pahl, James Gould, Jill Hanna, Nigel Higgs, Richard Jones (chair), Tom Misselbrook
Apologies: Guy Wilkinson, Roger Langford
- a) RJ said GL was attending an EM Staffordshire meeting at 7pm and so we would discuss EM issues on his agenda when he arrived, soon after 7.30pm. GC, HP and RJ had all attended the EM National Conference on 27 March. It was a long day on Zoom, with a lot happening in the Chat column and difficult to be participative, but some very good speeches. We discussed a division of views over the importance of PR. John Curtice (at another webinar on 25 March) and Peter Kellner (at the Conference) both thought PR wouldn’t make much difference to getting back into the EU but Femi Oluwole strongly supported it. We noted the importance of getting independents and other small parties involved in the debate, including getting Labour to commit to PR. We also discussed the prospects in the Hartlepool bye-election and the Conservative lead in the opinion polls because of vaccine success. We noted Curtice’s comment that we need to attack FPTP.
- b) We discussed Brexit impacts on exports and supermarket supplies; the masking effect of Covid (no pun intended); and negative public attitudes to the EU. Noted that the UK press had been much slower to report the blood-clot problems with the Astra-Zeneca vaccination. Could this lead to a negative UK reaction, if more deaths resulted?
- a) HP had had no response from the Ledbury Reporter to her letter about settled status. RJ invited people to think of issues to write about to the Hereford Times/Ledbury Reporter as a way of putting pressure on our MPs; or articles for the Bylines online newspapers.
- b) We discussed the draft business questionnaire as one way of collecting stories to write about. NH agreed to double-check whether the Herefordshire & Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce might use our questionnaire unattributably. He explained the Chamber used questions supplied by the British Chambers of Commerce. Some questions coming up would focus on Brexit impacts. We noted the continuing difficulty of separating Covid and Brexit impacts. The Chamber’s Q4 survey showed more business concern about Covid than about Brexit uncertainties. Its February report on markets and growth plans recorded a significant impact on exports to the EU. Its Q1 survey was due out the following week and we should look at it carefully to see if it identified any particular businesses we might approach. TM pointed out businesses always wanted to present a positive picture for shareholders, customers and competitors and therefore might not tell us much except in a confidential survey. JH asked whether the EM was doing anything on business at national level and whether/how we could contribute to that.
- c) Brexit impacts questionnaire (the one the HT didn’t want to carry): RJ said we intended to send that out as a dedicated H4EU Newsletter but it hadn’t gone yet because GW had been too busy. It would only have a pro-EU audience but it should still give us some stories. We noted issues about sending things to the continent (the Post Office doing quite well but couriers struggling) and tariffs people were having to pay on imports where third country content was included.
RJ had circulated the minutes of the EM National Executive Committee meeting on 23 March on receipt on 5 April. Andrew Adonis had set up four new bodies, including a Diversity Task Force, to be chaired by Molly Scott Cato, and an EM Membership Task Force, focused on the membership offer and how to attract supporters to become members. Dave Rowen, EM Branches Forum Chair, had invited all Branch/Group Chairs to nominate candidates for a grassroots focus group to feed ideas to the Membership Task Force. Richard Henson’s name came up in his absence and RJ agreed to ask him but failed to do so before Dave Rowen’s deadline. At this point GL joined the meeting and reported that Liz Baker, EM Staffordshire, had volunteered for it.
- YEM (including the West Midlands regional meeting and BARNS)
- a) GL explained his plans for the West Midlands regional meeting on 17 April [subsequently postponed to 24 April]. The first half would have an address by Andrew Adonis (AA) – the first to any regional event since his appointment as Chair – followed by Julius Lajtha (JL), President of the YEM, followed by a Q&A session aimed at under-35s. AA would set out the EM’s short and medium term priorities including the need to recruit younger people. GL said the EM’s age profile, like many other pro-EU groups, was predominantly skewed to older people (by a nice Freudian slip he said screwed before correcting himself). Very few members or even supporters under 45, the majority over 60. Branch/group chairs should ask supporters to get the message out to younger people as widely as possible, inviting them to attend the first session from 10.00-11.00. GL hoped to circulate a meeting notice the next day.
- b) We agreed to circulate an invitation to our Newsletter Mailchimp distribution list [done on 14 April]. We also agreed to wait until after the regional meeting to launch the YEM recruitment pilot study, so we could use that as a peg, inviting younger people to join both YEM and H4EU.
- c) GL said the second half of the regional meeting would be restricted to branch/group chairs and officers but could also include other steering group or committee members. The original restriction was because of space limitations when meetings were real but that didn’t matter on Zoom. Action: H4EU members to tell RJ if they would like to attend.
- d) Issues for the second half of the meeting: GL said that was one of the questions he would ask groups and branches. But as we moved out of lockdown he thought we should look at communication between WM groups, for example on activity such as street stalls; and what our post-lockdown campaigning should look like. RJ referred back to the discussion at 2.b) above and asked whether the regional meeting might discuss a coordinated approach to the EM on business issues, pulling together stories which could be used at national level to put pressure on politicians. GL agreed one of the objectives of regional meetings was to bring issues like that to the attention of the EM. He didn’t know whether it had any plans in this area. The HQ team is small and stretched. RJ suggested the WM could at least flag up to EM HQ its views on business issues and see if the EM wanted to use them. JH added later that showing Brexit costs was one of the most important things the EM should be doing now. GL suggested we should raise this at the regional meeting if AA hadn’t already addressed it.
- e) This led on to a discussion of the co-ordinating process between branches, regions and head office. GL hoped the regional meeting could help us to bring this issue to the fore for clarification. The EM has a head office team and a Branches Forum under Dave Rowen with its next meeting in May [now scheduled for 5 June]. The West Midlands region was one of the few regions acting as a unit. Most other branches and affiliates co-existed geographically but didn’t do much as regional units. The EM needed to find solutions to some fundamental questions how relatively disparate groups related to each other.
- f) The Branches, Affiliates and Regional Network Survey (BARNS) Phase 1 Report had been sent to the EM Chair, CEO, National Executive, National Council and all branch chairs for any comments. Branch/group chairs should give feedback to Dave Rowen. GL said the West Midlands had pioneered a regional structure but it was an open question whether that was the best way forward. We certainly shouldn’t adopt a one-size-fits-all approach. The question will be how best to mobilise support across the country; and AA wants to address that.
- g) RJ picked up a Chat column comment by NH on membership, that the EM needed a cogent structure and communicable direction. NH said this meant it needed to be clear and concise about what it is doing. His reading of the BARNS report suggested this wasn’t happening in the upper reaches of the EM, because the report showed confusion in many groups and branches about how the EM works, what direction it is going in and how it will bring people on board. GC observed that many organisations like the EM or the church were top-heavy with the older generation because they had the time and the skills for committee meetings etc, while younger people wanted to do things. Extinction Rebellion was a good example. NH commented that younger political groups have a completely different, more dynamic, structural approach. XR and ecological groups have a lot of young people in them, many of them probably pro-EU, so we should make links. GL said that’s what the YEM should be about; and encouraged us again to attend the regional meeting and put those points to AA and JL. GC summarised that many young people were concerned about these issues because it was their future: having a planet worth living on; a climate they can cope with; and a society of decent values. TM pointed out the value of belonging to bigger organisations like the EU to help us achieve our goals on climate change etc. Climate change might be more important to them, but we need to show the value of the EU as a prism through which to achieve those goals. JG asked in the chat whether the EM would think about a sub-committee of young people. GL said JL, YEM President, had been invited to join the National Executive.
- h) JH said we should remind AA of the forthcoming COP26 meeting on climate change. The UK was chosen as host while we were still in the EU but it will be much harder to chair it successfully now we are out. RJ mentioned another angle raised in Richard Morris’s international report to the National Executive, where he argued we should use the Conference on the Future of Europe, starting in May, as an opportunity to start a debate on what the UK would want the EU to look like when we came to rejoin it. RJ agreed to check what the mechanisms for a UK contribution might be. [Richard Morris had reported “there may also be an opportunity for non-member state involvement, so it will be open to the UK to participate, but details are yet to be agreed.” JL was also exploring whether YEM could participate through JEF, the EU-wide younger members group.]
- Other actions/events
- a) RJ had circulated two different e-mails from Grassroots for Europe and EU in Brum setting out a range of meetings but they were essentially the same list.
- b) Erasmus+ webinar: as far as RJ knew, we were still waiting to hear from Hywel Ceri Jones. RJ will speak again to Saffron Rainey, Chair of EM Shropshire, about the speaker they had in mind.
- c) Win-win democracy: NH sent RJ an e-mail exchange with Perry Walker to circulate to others. Perry could be free to speak to us whenever we were ready. We need to identify the precise issue we want Perry to help us resolve. Two weeks ago we talked about how we should present our support for PR to the EM. NH suggested we need to identify our motives and what outcomes we want and compare that with the outcomes the EM wants. Until we identify what sort of PR we want, it will be hard to persuade people to agree. HP suggested we should look at how PR works in different countries. JH agreed to write something on Belgium, GC on Spain, GL on The Netherlands, HP on Germany, NH on Italy and RJ on New Zealand. TM also offered to write about criteria to measure the effectiveness of PR systems.
- d) TM had said on 23 March we also need to push for an electoral alliance. JH agreed. GL said electoral reform and the other issues we had identified were key issues for the future and we should seek AA’s views on them at the regional meeting. He would tell AA, so he was prepared to address them.
- Social media
RJ had attended Carys Barry’s workshop at the National Conference. There was a great deal of technical detail. As a first step he will ask her for a copy of her presentation and send it to NH, GW and RH for us to consider what we might use.
- Any Other Business
Next Meeting: Tuesday 27th April at 7.00pm; and then Tuesday 27 April at 7.00pm to talk about PR, because GC is not free on 20 April or 4 May. GC also flagged up she would prefer less frequent meetings as her diary would get fuller when lockdown ends.
23 March 2021
Present: Fenny Smith, Harriet Pahl, Nigel Higgs, Richard Henson. Richard Jones (chair), Tom Misselbrook
Apologies: Ben Bennett, George Longstaff, Gillian Chowns, Guy Wilkinson, Jill Hanna, Roger Langford
- a) RJ introduced the discussion with a humorous story. Mark Pack, now Lib Dem President, had written a blog in December 2017 casting doubt whether Harold Macmillan had ever said “Events, my dear boy, events” in answer to a question about challenges to government, except perhaps after the Profumo scandal. By coincidence his next blog reported that “Government is better prepared for a zombie attack than for Brexit”, based on an FOI request which revealed the Cabinet Office rather than MOD would be responsible for contingency planning in an emergency. There were comments about most of the zombies being in the Cabinet already. RJ was having another bad connection day and whenever he said undead or zombie his screen froze, which also caused some mirth.
- b) Events this week: Grassroots for Europe webinar with Naomi Smith, Best for Britain, and Femi Oluwole on Wednesday 24th; Make Votes Matter webinar with John Curtice on Thursday 25th. RJ reported on the EM Staffordshire webinar on Monday 22nd with Rachel Henderson, Make Votes Matter. Rachel reiterated that MVM didn’t have a view which form of PR might be best. RJ made GW’s point that it could be hard to persuade people to agree if we couldn’t indicate what sort of PR we supported. Rachel agreed to feed that thought in. RJ mentioned the Government’s proposal to change from PR to FPTP for elections for Mayor of London and regional authorities and of Police and Crime Commissioners and suggested that MVM should get views from people in those constituencies after 6 May why they preferred PR. Rachel also agreed to pursue RJ’s suggestion that MVM should consider taking a line on the Government’s proposal to insist on voter ID in general elections, which would effectively disenfranchise a lot of people on the margins. RJ had just received a link to the recording of the event and agreed to forward it to attendees. [Done]
- c) RJ had followed up the points in the GfE interim constitution we discussed on 9 March with Richard Wilson, Chair of GfE, and Gareth Steel, who had drafted it. They had clarified that the constitution made provision for the appointment of regional coordinators and for the receipt of funds but neither was yet in place. We should make sure the GfE regional coordinator for the West Midlands, when appointed, works closely with GL and Graham Jones. RJ had also attended a meeting with Gareth Steel and a couple of people from the south-east who were working with him to update the UKPEN register of pro-EU groups in their areas. In the West Midlands there were only two groups on the UKPEN list that GL wasn’t sure about; there had been amalgamations in Staffordshire, Shropshire and Herefordshire.
- d) A reminder that the EM West Midlands regional meeting is on 17 April, 10.00-12.00. This is for officers only. RJ asked whether other Executive Committee members would like to attend if there is room. HP said yes, but only if there is room; RH can’t. Action: RJ to check with George.
- e) A reminder of the EM National Conference on 27 March. Carys Barry, EM social media adviser, would have a breakout session. RJ had just written to her, copied to GW, NH and RH, about H4EU’s wish to get some help with our social media.
- f) While RJ was struggling with the undead, TM asked whether there would be a Hereford protest on 30 March in connection with Sarah Everard; we came back to this. No-one knew. RH raised the Kill the Bill protests and mentioned a vigil in Ludlow on 26 March. Noted this was still in lockdown and therefore perhaps too far to go. Also noted the number of petitions against the Police Bill. Noted the House of Commons was likely to extend the Coronavirus Regulations for six months on Thursday, which also set limitations on protest. But Committee stage on the Police Bill is likely to challenge the limitations on protest which it contains.
- a) HP had sent her letter to the Ledbury Reporter but not yet had a reply. TM had written two letters to Bill Wiggin. Probably a large postbag from farmers and exporters to Europe because they were all being hit hard. FS and NH had both e-mailed Jesse Norman on issues and got stock replies. Agreed it was good to keep them aware they had lots of unhappy constituents.
- b) TM said it would be useful to have facts about the impact on businesses. NH had written to the policy team at the Herefordshire & Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber is doing its own survey of business, but probably with a less detailed focus than our own questionnaire. NH agreed to follow up. [Done: the Chamber replied on 31 March that it wouldn’t use our survey, despite its non-partisan nature, because we were pro-EU and it had to be apolitical. The Chamber has given NH details of its survey responses but, as expected, they don’t give the detail we want.]
Just before the meeting RJ had circulated the papers from the EM National Council meeting on 6 March. Graham Bishop, Chair of the National Council, acknowledged the need for action to embed diversity more structurally through constitutional amendment, as opposed to the “sticking plaster” approach taken so far. TM said diversity should include young people. RJ said Andrew Adonis is very strong on that. Neat segue into next item
4. a) Pilot study: there is a letter ready to circulate but EM HQ wasn’t able to take action before the National Conference. Julius Lajtha, YEM President, was keen this should be done right rather than in a rush. RJ would like to tweak the message for a younger audience and had just written to Julius, agreeing to consult the YEM Comms Officer. Action: RJ to consult YEM and update GLb.
4b) Erasmus+ webinar: GW had invited Hywel Ceri Jones to speak to us. EM Shropshire also has a good speaker in mind. GL would like this to be an event open to other WM groups. This would be intended to attract younger members.
4c) GL had asked the Stratford for Europe Steering Group whether it would like to invite Julius Lajtha to speak at the beginning of its next meeting on 5 April and also invite younger members to attend so they could have a Q&A with Julius before the Steering Group resumed its normal business. GL had also asked whether H4EU would like to do the same. Agreed in principle. We should get a notice out in good time to ensure a good attendance from younger people. [Proposal on hold: Julius wanted to expand the S4E meeting on 5 April into a national event, which would have been premature. GL is now planning to have a YEM section in the first hour of the WM regional meeting on 17 April.]
5. Other actions/events
5a) Business questionnaire: see 2.b) above. Brexit impact questionnaire: RJ had sent GW on 20 February some material for a special Newsletter. RJ will check with GW what further help he might need.
5b)Win-win democracy: NH and BB met on 12 March. Both were already familiar with the concept from earlier workshops, so they discussed how we might seek to apply it in our particular context. NH explained the concept: if two people are at loggerheads because they both want the same thing, they may want it for different reasons, so you need to dig into why they want it. Classic example: two people want a piece of fruit, but one only wants it for the skin, the other for the fruit inside. The wider application, for example how we choose how the country is run, where there may be many similarities of view, involves identifying the conflicts, the alignments and the disjoints. TM noted parallels with negotiation theory, where you work out what you can offer the other person. How would we use the win-win democracy concept? HP asked how we handle people who don’t think rationally. NH pointed out the difference between people who make assumptions and react without listening and people who respond after listening and reflecting. We need to create an environment in which people who react are encouraged to listen and reflect before responding. The opposite of the adversarial politics on the floor of the House of Commons, which pushes proper debate into other places.
5 c)RJ asked how we identify the people we want to engage and the issues to discuss with them; and which should come first, because the one could determine the other. NH said he could get Perry Walker to lead a workshop for H4EU to show us how it works but we would need to work out a clear definition of the areas we want to discuss and where we have a difference of thinking that we want to resolve. Perry is a facilitator and doesn’t need to know about the detail of the subject provided that we know where we stand and what we are talking about. For example, the EM seems to give less priority to PR than many members of H4EU. Perry might help us to think how to deal with that. TM suggested we might need to focus on getting an electoral alliance as the first step to getting PR. Timing: after 6 May so we have a peg for the discussion. Action: NH to ask Perry when he might be free.
- Social media
See 1.e) above on contact with Carys Barry. RJ had written to her outlining H4EU’s social media accounts, including website, Facebook public page and private group, Twitter and Instagram, and saying we might also need a Tik Tok account or something similar to appeal to younger people, particularly as we were about to engage on a younger members recruitment pilot study. But we would probably need someone under 20 to manage it for us lol. Action: RJ to follow up with Carys Barry.
- Any Other Business
Next Meeting: Tuesday 6 April at 7.00pm.
Meeting Friday 5th February 2021
Summary Record of a meeting
Herefordshire for Europe Friday 5th February 2021
Present: Richard Jones (Chair), Nigel Higgs, Peter Rogers, George Longstaff, Harriet Pahl, Guy Wilkinson, Ben Bennett, Jill Hanna, Gillian and Stephen Chowns
Apologies Richard Henson, Fenny Smith, Tom Misselbrook, Tony Higgins
- Forthcoming webinars:
1.1 West Midlands EM webinar with Dougan/Galsworthy on 18th February;
Agreed Guy to include in a newsletter -done
Agreed Peter Rogers to host the zoom
In discussion concerns were expressed about the proliferation of different pro EU groups and the need to ensure a coherent overall organisation. Noted the connections between EM and Grassroots for Europe and agreed Harriet would raise a question at the forthcoming webinar about an ‘alliance’ between them, along lines suggested by George: “There seems to be an increasing number of disparate pro-EU groups, which risks disunity in our effort to rejoin the EU. Is an alliance the way forward and, if so, what part can the European Movement and Grassroots for Europe play in bringing it about?”
1.2 Win-Win Democracy (Perry Walker)
Noted that Nigel has circulated more material for the small group discussion
1.3 Erasmus/student exchange/Young European Movement
Agreed this would be a suitable subject for a future H4EU webinar and that Guy and Jill would take forward arrangements
Agreed Guy to invite Hywel Ceri- Jones and to identify an Erasmus student through the Young European Movement president Julius Lajtha – Jill to approach
Agreed to extend invitation to EM membership
Noted Erasmus includes apprentices and vocational training etc
Agreed the importance of seeking to engage with a wide range of young people including from the Herefordshire colleges
- Young European Movement
Noted request from Hugo Mann for support in relation to resourcing YEM with social media, video production. Any connections with young people to be in touch
- Promoting women’s voices:
Noted the Brussels Playbook interviews on 8 March at https://www.politico.eu/event/womens-day-playbook/ and emphasised need for continuing attention to this issue. Also noted Politics Home report on abuse of female MPs and encouraged people to write to MPs to press Government to take action https://www.politicshome.com/news/article/boris-johnson-has-ordered-a-review-into-tackling-rancid-sexist-abuse-of-female-mps
4.1 Letter to Hereford Times
Noted with appreciation Jill Hanna’s letter successfully in the Hereford Times within the limit of 250 words
Agreed Guy to write the next letter on Parliamentary sovereignty
Aim to have a letter in the Hereford Times regularly at least each month and possibly more frequently if that can be achieved
4.2 Questionnaire on Brexit
Agreed Guy to include an item on the questionnaire in the next newsletter. Richard to send Guy latest draft and any other related material
4.3 Questionnaire on businesses
Noted further meeting and re drafting is going forward and Nigel will be in touch with the Herefordshire and Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce
4.4 Social media
Agreed that a review of our social media is needed and George will contact European Movement to inquire about expert advice
Noted that West and East Midlands Bylines had come together to be named Central Bylines and that all articles were most welcome
5.1 Trade Bill
Noted the request to write to MPs about the Trade Bill which comes back to the Commons on Tuesday. Discussed relevance of writing to MPs – agreed should continue. Noted the issue is about power relationships between Parliament, executive and Judiciary
Agreed individuals to follow up with Bill Wiggin.
Richard to circulate 38Degrees email – done.
5.2 Grassroots for Europe letter to Biden/Harris
Noted the draft letter and agreed to support https://mcusercontent.com/d74bd47e4de2b404ad08a65df/files/de5b1640-043
5.3 Fox News UK
Discussed the proposed licence for Fox News UK and objections that it is not a ‘fit and proper’ organisation. Individuals to support
- EM Branch Chairs’ meeting on 13 February
Richard noted he would be attending this meeting and asked for any further comments on the agenda. Noted that he would be raising the issue of the proliferation of local pro EU groups and possibility of alliance.
- EM Branches Affiliates and Regional Network Survey
Noted the questionnaire which had been attached to the agenda. Agreed to respond to Richard in relation to a draft response which he will circulate.
- Grassroots for Europe elections
Noted the candidate and hustings for election. Agreed, subject to further comment from Harriet, to support the proposed candidates.
9.1 Noted and agreed Ben to reimburse Richard H for expenses incurred
9.2 Discussed a report back from Harriet on the 3Million webinar. Noted the 30th June deadline and need to extend; noted 390,00 applications still outstanding.
Agreed Harriet write to Hereford Times alerting to the deadline. Guy to put Emilia in touch with Harriet re a possible translation
- Date of next meeting
6.00pm Friday 19th February
Meeting Friday 22nd January 2021
Present: Richard Jones (Chair), Harriet Pahl, Guy Wilkinson, Jill Hanna, Fenny Smith, Richard Henson, Ben Bennett, Stephen and Gillian Chowns, Nigel Higgs, Tom Misselbrook, Tony Higgins
Apologies: George Longstaff
- West Midlands European Movement Webinar
There was a general discussion about the webinar which was considered to have been very good, particularly the contributions from Dominic Grieve and the chairing by Richard Jones. The absence of Andrew Adonis for family reasons was regretted. It was noted that the ‘teething problems’ argument would dissolve in a couple of months. There had been a good attendance of up to 150 participants.
Noted that a further EM West Midlands webinar would be taking place at 7.00pm on 18th February with Mike Galsworthy and Michael Dougan
1.2 H4EU Win-win democracy webinar
A planned H4EU webinar on deliberative democracy by Perry Walker was discussed. The approach is based on listening to arguments and discussion to find the best way forward. Agreed to form a small H4EU group: Nigel, Ben, Richard J, Tony H to prepare a first trial and then move to a wider audience. Nigel will send a link
1.3 ThreeMillion webinar on Settled status 4th February on EU citizens not yet with settled status
1.4 EM Members briefing webinar
27th January: Guy mentioned an EM webinar for members with Dominic Grieve
1.5 UK in a Changing Europe
Jill had watched and recommended a webinar with Tom Tugendhat and Lisa Nandy and two other academics, now available online.
- Promoting women’s voices
This important subject had been raised particularly by Pat Ronan. It was noted that more women than men were Remainers. Noted that there are also issues about minorities and it raises questions about the involvement of young people and the possibility of inviting Femi Oluwole.
- Communication to the media
3.1 Hereford Times letter
Noted that Richard’s letter to the Hereford Times letter had been published in printed and online versions. In discussion about future correspondence subjects it was agreed:
- Jill would draft a letter on environmental legislation
- Guy on Parliamentary sovereignty
A possible future letter on impact of Gibraltar/Spain agreement with Gibraltar in Schengen requiring UK visitors to go through entry checks for the first time was also considered.
Richard noted the HT position that they do not publish questionnaires, so there is a need to look for other outlets. It needs to be good quality survey which draws from all views and be valid. It was considered whether another organisation might be willing to carry the questionnaire; or possibly a separate FB page. Richard, Nigel and Tony to discuss on 26 January. The draft business questionnaire provided by Stratford for Europe needs editing to be specific to Herefordshire businesses and Nigel has adjusted to include drop down menus. Nigel, Tony, Jill, Fenny, Richard H and Richard J to consider next steps and will meet on 1st February.
Nigel spoke to the concept of focussing on one issue where truth is not being told, or one sided in order to put the alternative view into as many outlets as possible. Important to be proactive and ahead of the news cycle rather than being reactive. We need to identify areas which will be in the news and prepare material. The approach is related to ‘fact checking’. Aims gradually to dissolve previously held views. Agreed that all will consider possible ‘truthbomb’ subjects.
Guy spoke to the future format of the Newsletter which had been monthly and with a wide scatter of subjects. He asked whether future newsletters be shorter and focussed around a particular issue. This might be more effective. If so, what might be the themes? Suggestions included: sovereignty; red tape; fake news and truth; MPs code of practice; Musicians, artists and academics touring – EU offered on a reciprocal basis & limited stops for equipment carriers, Erasmus, Scotland, NI and Gibraltar.
Guy also raised a technical question about posts from the Mailchimp newsletter. It was agreed that we should pay an expert for a couple of hours examination of our social media outlets.
- Make Votes Matter
The meeting noted that MVM are organising an Equal Votes lobby of MPs on 12th March. Bill Wiggin negative response to Harriet on this subject was also noted. There was discussion about whether this was a priority subject to use up our ‘meeting capital’ with MPs. Perhaps better to lobby Labour Party where there might be some possibility of change – possibly through Hereford and South Herefordshire Labour party. It was noted that constituency boundaries are likely to change. It was agreed that individuals could lobby and support financially but that this was not a current priority H4EU issue. It was agreed to seek dates for a meeting with Herefordshire MPs ahead on the impact of Brexit post ‘teething troubles’.
5.Any Other Business
5.1 Grassroots for Europe elections
It was noted that Richard H and Guy had made suggestions; others will look at candidates’ list and comment and send to Richard J who will co-ordinate.
5.2 There was discussion about the refusal of the UK to give ambassadorial status to the EU representative
- Next meeting
5th February at 6pm