I have noticed a couple of emails over the last few days pushing the ‘anti-EU’ meme. I wish to address this sentiment in this open letter to all attendees at the Old Swan.
One of the great strengths of the Harrogate Agenda, in my view, is that it is not explicitly anti-EU. Some of you may recall the words from my personal introduction that day (I am vain enough to hope that you will 😉 ) when I said [words to the effect] :
It is not enough for us to say what are against, we must say what we are for. If we fail to make it clear what we stand for then it will be all to easy for our critics to portray us in a negative light.
I stand by those words today. For me one of the most important actions that day was the removal of the ‘EUReferendum’ item from the agenda. We must all realise that if our message is overtly anti-EU then we are fighting the battle on our opponents terms. We will fight the political establishment, the media and the EU on grounds of their choosing.
We will lose.
While Richard may be ambivalent about the ‘limpiks’ I am not. As great art reveals essential truths about the human condition, great sporting events teach us important lessons about life. One of these is that a ‘plucky loser’ is still a loser. Do we want to be ‘plucky losers’ or winners? That is the simple decision. Nailing our colours to the mast of the good ship ‘Sink the EU’, will relegate us to the ranks of the ‘also rans’, those who proclaim ‘it is still a bronze’, the losers. We will find ourselves alongside UKIP and others who repeatedly adopt this losing strategy, deservedly so.
From what I have said above it should be clear that a strength of the Harrogate Agenda is that it seeks to define the battle on our terms. To be the leaders of the debate, not the opponents. To set the agenda, not react to it.
When, not if, we determine our six demands, I am confident that they will be of such strength and so undeniably true that our critics and opponents will have no ammunition. In the words of the American Declaration of Independance: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident…’. It may surprise some of you, but an explicit demand to withdraw from the EU, is for many people not ‘a self-evident’ truth. Now you may argue that this is thanks to 40 years of political and media brainwashing, but that is irrelevant. It is not an argument that can be won directly. If it could, why hasn’t it already?
I love history, and one of my inspirations is Wellington. He never lost a battle because he never fought unless it was on grounds of his choosing. In 3 years time we will be celebrating the 200th anniversary of his victory over a European tyrant, on a battlefield of his choosing just outside Brussels. Would it not be a delicious irony if we, metaphorically speaking, could do the same thing 200 years later? But we can only do that if we follow his example and choose to fight the battle on our terms, not our opponents.
The Harrogate Agenda is a Trojan Horse, but a rather curious, transparent one. It’s payload, hidden in plain view, is that acceptance of it’s demands automatically requires the dismantling of the EU in it’s current form. We can therefore expect intense opposition, as we can be sure that politicians, ours and those of the EU, and our EU masters will realise that. However if the people (demos) understand and agree with our demands then, as Richard is fond of reminding us, there are more of us than there are of them.