EU Referendum

The Old Swan Manifesto


The Old Swan Hotel, Harrogate

Following Wittering from Witney's recent observations on the seminar in London, I now have Dave Barnby's speaking notes for the speech he gave there, explaining why a referendum on leaving the EU is unwinnable. To take part in one would be a betrayal of future generations, he says.

This very much underlines WfW's pessimism, although it is already clear that we cannot rely on the political classes and their strategies if we are going to achieve change.

Last year, however, we were also saying that the political party model, of seeking change through the ballot box, stands little chance of immediate success. To promote our cause, I argued, we first needed a "movement" rather than a political party. This is the entity most likely to succeed in blazing a trail.

The most successful of such in most recent times has been the European Movement. It has pursued the course of European political integration far more effectively than we have been able to block it. It could never be said, though, that this was ever a popular movement – as in "of the people". For that, we have to go way back to the Chartists of 1838, and their People's Charter, setting out their six main aims.

This, it seems to me, is the most appropriate model, emulation of which would allow us to articulate precisely what it is we are demanding of the political classes.

To the effect, I am extending to readers an invitation to a meeting, provisionally booked for Saturday 14 July at the Old Swan Hotel in Harrogate. The idea is for a small group – around thirty people – to follow in the footsteps of our ancestors and draft our own Charter. I would then propose we have a larger meeting in the autumn to agree and ratify a definitive version.

Whimsically, I suppose we could call this the Old Swan Manifesto. If the Bilderbergers can name themselves after a hotel, I don't see why we can't use the same device, even if the Old Swan doesn't have a sinister ring to it.

As to costs, we anticipate having to find about £35 per head for the room, with coffee, a splendid buffet lunch and tea, all in a well-equipped and comfortable conference room. If we are going to have a revolution, I don't see why we should not do it in style.

We're going to operate on a first-come-first-served basis so, to book your place use the "contact" link on the menu under the masthead, and we'll get back to you.