A day over three months ago I wrote a piece called “EU Referendum & the grassroots campaign” about how the grassroots pro-EU groups were filling a need for an apolitical/cross-party pro-EU movement.
Little did I think that they would be the only organisations filling that need 3 months later.
There is perhaps still the excuse that the main parties are continuing to struggle with their internal issues, and that is handicapping the established groups in their efforts to get organised.
Whatever the reason is, back in June the message was “hang on, we are getting organised, we will tell you when we are ready”. The message today is much the same.
What these groups don’t seem to realise is that the pro-EU public has been ready for a long while, months if not years; ready for confirmation that people are listening to them, ready for leadership.
This is why traditional politics is being rejected in favour of people-based (grassroots) activism.
True grassroots movements have the advantage that there is the commitment and the enthusiasm for the campaign coming from people who believe in and are ready to work for the cause. The disadvantage is they have further to go before they reach a critical mass where newspapers, politicians, and pundits take notice and give them the attention they deserve.
It is possible that the established groups just might be closer to getting organised, although there is little evidence that they are reaching out to those grassroots organisations that filled the vacuum in their absence.
The “Remain” campaign still needs thousands of people, not just using social media but organizing local groups, still talking to people, still challenging the anti-EU arguments in their day-to-day lives.
If the “big” players on the pro-EU side are wise, they will support and engage with the grassroots campaign groups. Helping them to get the message across is the surest way of getting a big turnout for the referendum and a decisive pro-EU result.
Help, support and advice are more than welcome wherever they come from, but the campaign to keep the UK in the EU must belong to the public.