This Saturday, hundreds of people came to the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester for Another Europe’s national conference. Sessions ranged from panel discussions to policy briefings to practical planning. Much of the day focused on collective discussion of Another Europe’s strategy, especially around the Progressive Deal. We also reflected on our work since the referendum – for the report that was circulated on the day, click here.
The conference provided a vital space for progressives and left wingers to come together to discuss strategy and make plans together. It was also a very important means of developing Another Europe – opening up participation to a wider layer of people and becoming a campaign with local activists again. Tens of thousands of new leaflets and posters were distributed from the conference – on free movement, our Progressive Deal and the Great Repeal Bill.
The day began with speeches from Owen Jones, local Labour MEP Julie Ward, Scottish Green leader Maggie Chapman and Chris McCusker from the SNP socialist caucus.
We then moved into two detailed briefings on key issues – one was from Sam Fowles on the Great Repeal Bill, which threatens to give the government unprecedented powers to undermine rights and freedoms without a vote in parliament. The other was on migration policy after Brexit from Zoe Gardner. These sessions were designed to equip activists with the technical knowledge we need to campaign effectively, and left plenty of time for questions and discussion from the audience.
Over lunch, delegates held regional caucuses to share ideas and contacts in their area. All areas of the UK – Scotland, the North West, the North East, the Midlands, Wales, the South West, London and the South East – were represented at the conference.
We then discussed Another Europe’s overall strategy following the Brexit vote, focusing on the Progressive Deal – which includes workers’ rights, environmental protections, free movement, human rights, science and research funding and education and innovation. Delegates
amended the strategy to include fighting against the possibility of the UK becoming a tax haven, and against TTIP-like trade deals. Other points were also raised informally – in particular the defense of protections for minorities and the need tocampaign around the Human Rights Act.
The afternoon saw breakout sessions focused on practical outcomes on trade union organising, coordinating local events, student organising and creative campaigning. Another Europe will now be developing a trade unionist network and a range of materials including model motions, a briefing note on free movement, and a bank of speakers who can go to branches. We will also be setting up a local organising network, and work with other campaigns and organisations to put on a wider range of events – to mobilise our supporters and reach those who don’t already agree with us.
In the final session of the day, attendees discussed proposals and debated the way forward for the organisation. We elected nine new members of Another Europe’s Steering Group – most of them representing areas and demographics currently under-represented at the centre of the organisation.
This conference was just the beginning of rebooting Another Europe is Possible and taking our campaigns into communities, workplaces and the wider world. We can’t beat extreme Tory Brexit without activists and grassroots campaigns. Join Another Europe is Possible as a supporter here, now.
4th April 2017