In truth this shorthand, which is applied liberally and sets up areas of Britain at odds with each other, does a disservice to our nation and our public debate. Its binary lens is as unhelpful as the simplistic yes-no referendum on which it’s based.
Specifically, it ignores the quarter of voters in Islington who opted for Leave, the third who voted Remain in South and West Yorkshire, and those on both sides in both parts of the country who are now learning more and changing their minds. And it certainly ignores 100% of people in both places who deserve the opportunity to make an informed decision about Brexit, based on what they now know.
That’s why, though we’re 170 miles apart and have very different social and economic roots, Islington and Yorkshire have everything in common. And it’s why Islington In Europe and People’s Vote South & West Yorkshire have decided to become the first twinned grassroots groups campaigning for a People’s Vote.
From now on activists out on the streets in the North London borough and those in the Yorkshire Coalfield towns represent two halves of the same campaign. The former has been going for three years now, the latter since December last year, but both are vibrant, passionate and creative in their work.
Of course this isn’t the first time groups have collaborated. The People’s Vote campaign itself, turnout at the recent marches and the rich interaction on social media are proof that ours is already a highly coordinated movement - perhaps the biggest pro-EU movement of any member state. But twinning between far-flung and, as first glance, contrasting areas is particularly meaningful.
Pigeonholing paints a picture of a polarised nation, in particular between London and other parts of England. But twinning, and the dialogue and activity that comes with it, will help bridge these perceptions. Coordinated events, coordinated PR, coordinated lobbying, coordinated twitter storms and marching shoulder-to-shoulder - all of this has the potential to add a powerful new level to our campaigning.
And imagine if groups across the country followed suit. We’re already hearing talk of other London groups wanting to build on their existing links with groups in the South West, Midlands, North West and Scotland.
This could be a new chapter for the European Movement’s grassroots and the campaign for a People’s Vote. And, just maybe, twinning will translate into winning.
Why don’t you consider linking up with another group elsewhere in the country?
Nick Turton - Chair, Islington In Europe @IslingtonIn, [email protected]
Mark Rogers - Chair, People’s Vote South & West Yorkshire, @PeoplesVoteSWY, [email protected]