VENUE: Duke of York, 47 Rathbone Street, Fitzrovia, London, W1T 1NQ [MAP] We will be upstairs in the pub’s function room
TUBE: Tottenham Court Road or Goodge Street.
TIME: Arrive from 1830, quick presentations 1930-2030, then informal discussion. Open end.
DATE: Thursday 17th November.
Optional £2 to attend, to cover room booking, and you must fill in the form below.
We’ve both been blogging about the EU for more than a decade and, if there is any silver lining to the Brexit cloud, it is that the post-23rd June fallout seems to have rejuvenated independent commentary and blogging about the EU. Lawyers, academics, journalists, statisticians, economists, tech people, negotiators, ex-public servants and all sorts of others have joined the debate – on Twitter and through blogs, and some of this has even ended up in the mainstream media.
Our past experience in London, Brussels, Berlin and elsewhere nevertheless demonstrates that networks of bloggers, commentators and campaigners work even better when the people know each other offline. When they’ve sat down and actually talked to each other. So that’s what we want to try to do among folks who have been blogging and tweeting about Brexit.
We do not quite know what might come out of such a get together. But we know what this get together is not – it is not intended as the start of a network to get the UK to Remain in the EU.
Although we suspect the majority of people critical of the ongoing Brexit process leaned towards Remain in referendum, for various reasons we feel that the emphasis instead needs to be on analysing, scrutinising, and opposing the worst excesses of the Brexit process.
By coming together to analyse, discuss, criticise and come up with ideas, it may ultimately mean Brexit does not happen (our views on this will differ), or it might mean that Brexit ends up being more nuanced and better thought out than it currently is (and feel free to insert a sarcastic comment about that not being hard here), but in the short term at least it is obvious that better scrutiny of the process can unify a wide spectrum of people – and, just possibly, lead to better responses.
In the current climate, we’ve come to believe that the most important thing is not to fixate on one decision we disagree with, but to promote and maintain the values some of us see that decision as rejecting – liberal, representative democracy, the rule of law, social liberalism, and acceptance of diversity. This is an issue not just in Brexit Britain, but in the US of Trump, the France of Le Pen, the Germany of AfD, the Greece of Syriza, the Austria of Hofer, the Hungary of Orban, the Netherlands of Wilders, the Italy of the Five Star Movement, the Turkey of Erdogan, and aspects of it far further afield – Putin’s Russia, Abbot’s Australia, Zuma’s South Africa, Duterte’s Philippines, and many others from both left and right. So this may ultimately mean looking far beyond our immediate, British concerns to seek allies, ideas, and understanding of ways to address root causes.
No matter what may come out of such discussions and meetings, at the very least it ought to allow people to meet folks they’ve been tweeting with for months, and that ought to be enjoyable. Beyond that some people might want to build projects or group blogs. Others might want to find ways to increase the audience for what they write. Some might try to develop tech tools to help improve the Brexit conversation. That’s going to be up to the people attending to work out. Each of us has their own ideas – and we hope you will too, if not now, then maybe after chatting with each other on the night.
Attendance is personal (i.e. no betrayal of a person’s professional or political affiliation!) and those who tweet or blog anonymously are also welcome. This is not intended as a meeting for disgruntled Labour voters or optimistic Lib Dems – though we’re sure such discussions will take place, and they certainly have a part to play – and pro-EU Tories are just as welcome. Trolls and people who ignore evidence and the rule of law are not welcome.
By all means inform others of this event, but please do not tweet out links to this page – we do not want it swamped by UKIPpers please.