“So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself -- nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1933
Roosevelt was talking about the great crisis of his generation, the Great Depression, in his inaugural speech as US President in 1933, but his words are relevant to the situation we are facing in the UK after last year’s referendum on UK membership of the EU.
Those who want us to leave have spent the intervening months attempting not to convince, but to frighten and demoralise those of us who believe that the outcome of the referendum was the wrong one. Whether we are ‘remoaners’ or ‘saboteurs’, the message is the same: be quiet and accept that the UK is leaving no matter what the consequences.
Our challenge is to send a clear message that there is hope to the millions of people out there who believe passionately that leaving the EU is the wrong decision.
The European Movement UK was founded in 1949 in response to another famous speech by a great statesman. Winston Churchill called upon the people of Europe to work together to create a “United States of Europe” as he put it. Since then we’ve been working with sister organisations across Europe to promote the values of justice, freedom and common citizenship of which Churchill spoke.
Our mission has never been clearer or more vital. We are building a nationwide, grassroots campaigning movement to give a voice to those people who feel ignored, and the message that not only is there hope, but there is a way to fight back.
As Roosevelt observed 84 years ago, fear is powerful and works to hold people back. That is why we want to give people positive reasons to fight back.
As negotiations between our government and the EU proceed there will be more than enough bad news to go around. It is our job to make sure people know the truth about how the negotiations are going, but also that they know there is an alternative to leaving.
There is no deal the government can get that will deliver more for the UK than full EU membership. Our job is to make that argument, build a movement to amplify it, and make sure everyone knows that there is still a way to stay in the EU not just for us, but for future generations who deserve the same opportunities that the EU affords all of us today.
- James MacCleary, Campaigns Director, European Movement UK