It’s good news that shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry is speaking at a People’s Vote rally tomorrow.
It has definitely felt at times like the Labour Party is having to be dragged kicking and screaming to the right place on Brexit, and Emily’s appearance on a People’s Vote platform is definitely a step in the right direction.
This is the fourth of the fifteen rallies being held across the summer leading up to a huge march in October and having spoken at two of the first three, I can assure Emily she will be left in no doubt about the depth of feeling for the anti-Brexit, pro-People’s Vote cause.
The location – Boris Johnson’s Uxbridge constituency – will guarantee she has plenty of ammunition to fire at the – I started typing ‘our’ but corrected myself – incoming Prime Minister. He is not ‘our Prime Minister, given he is being elected by 0.25percent of the country, on the back of which he intends to claim a mandate for a no deal Brexit. We shall see about that.
Meanwhile, I have posted below the text of the speech I made at the recent People’s Vote event in Cheltenham, with the central message that we are still on the pitch, we can still get a referendum, and win it.
‘I have just finished binge-viewing the recent BBC series on Margaret Thatcher. No, despite my so called ‘auto-exclusion’ from Labour I am not, never have been, never will be a Tory.
But it was fascinating.
Fascinating to wonder how on earth the Tory Party has gone from Thatcher then to a choice today of Boris Johnson or Jeremy Hunt; with the doctors, despite all they know, rooting for Hunt?
Fascinating to be reminded that there was division and anger back then too, and a fair amount of violence alongside it. Poll tax. Miners.
Fascinating to reflect on the question ‘what should we do if she was still here, and dealing with the current mess?’ and conclude ‘not this, not what this bunch are doing.’
Fascinating for me as a then young Mirror reporter, lambasting her day after day, to recall the feelings of hopelessness. Would we ever be rid of ‘that bloody woman?’
Then when finally she went and John Major faced Neil Kinnock In 1992 and Labour lost I remember on election night being on the BBC next to commentator Peter Jenkins who said ‘if Labour can’t win in these circumstances it is hard to imagine they will ever win again.’
Five years later – landslide.
I tell you this not to remind Labour of the happy days we won big majorities by fighting elections with policies genuinely aimed at the many not the few.
But to tell you that you never ever give up.
I don’t know about you but quite often at the moment I wake up a bit depressed, anxious, irritable. Sometimes – Thick of It fans please don’t be shocked – I even get a little bit angry.
Trump. Johnson. Farage. An endless media diet of Iain Duncan-Smith, David Davis, John Redwood and other relics of the past. Jeremy Corbyn, the man who became leader by vowing to listen to members, now resisting them as hard as he can on the single biggest issue facing our country. It’s not easy.
But here’s the other thing. It never is easy.
It wasn’t easy when the People’s Vote campaign was started and we were told we were wasting our time. That the people had spoken. Their will be done. Their Brexit kingdom come. A sin to think any other way.
It wasn’t easy when we were organising the early marches and struggling to get the numbers.
It wasn’t easy when the media kept saying there was not much point covering them because there’s no way we are not leaving.
It wasn’t easy voting against Mrs May to stop her getting a landslide then to be told by both sides 80pc had voted for Brexit. And if I protest-voted Lib Dem in the European elections it was because I was not falling for that one again.
It wasn’t easy being told by Tom Watson, John McDonnell, Keir Starmer, Emily Thornberry and plenty more that we needed to get with the programme and believe in a jobs first Brexit. Well. Our views haven’t changed. They have all moved to us as the politics and the people have moved with us.
We have gone from standing start to central on the pitch and no matter how hard Mrs May or Mr Corbyn or Mr McCluskey or Mr Johnson or Mr Hunt have tried to get us off the pitch we are still there and we are still in the game.
So there are just three words I want you to take away today.
We. Can. Win .
We can get a People’s Vote. And we can win a People’s Vote.
What was it David Dimbleby said three years and one week ago? ‘We’re out.’ But we’re not. We’re in.
Then Mrs May said ‘we’re out on March 29.’ We’re still not out. She is.
Now Johnson says we’re out on October 31. Do or die. Charging into the valley of death. That went well. So let’s see, shall we?
‘Believe in Britain’ says Leave’s charlatan in chief.
It is precisely because we believe in Britain that we know we can win and we know we have to.
Because this mess and madness in our politics is not Britain. The whole world laughing at us is not Britain. People saying – as many Tory and Brexit supporters do – that they don’t care if Brexit breaks the Union with Scotland, they don’t care if it means a hard border or a united Ireland, they don’t care if it means a weaker economy and less money for public services, fewer jobs for their children …
That is not Britain. A minority calling the shots knowing those shots are directed at both our feet. That is not the sensible, pragmatic, creative, compassionate, imaginative Britain we know and love.
And it is not democracy either. A vote three years ago when we were told no deal was not an option – now to be told that a prime minister elected by 0.25pc of the country will have a mandate to do the opposite of what he promised with the last set of lies he told back then. How dare they say this farce is democracy but a people’s vote of the whole country is not?
Whether it’s Johnson or Hunt they have no mandate for no deal. Whether it’s Tory or Labour in power so much time has passed, so much has happened, there is no deal to be done that gets democratic legitimacy without the people explicitly saying so.
That is why we are still here, still standing, still fighting. That is why I hope every one of you will be on the next big march in October as the next big deadline looms. Bring a friend who voted Leave. And everyone under 30 bring someone twice your age. And everyone over 40 bring half a dozen people less than half your age.
Because this is the real anger I feel watching this Tory leadership show. Two privileged wealthy middle-aged men fighting for the votes of the old to win the right to take away the future of the young.
At the People’s Vote rallies we are showing a short film… the actor Brian Cox narrating great campaigns of the past. I am going to spoil the ending by telling you the last line.
‘Everything is impossible. Until we make it happen.’
You know who said that? Nelson Mandela – the only man I ever met who made the hair on my neck stand on end. As yours will when you hear Brian Cox say those words.
Let’s make sure it doesn’t take 27 years to sort this madness and get our country back on track.
There is no monopoly on patriotism. No monopoly of what it means to be British. No monopoly on anger.
So stay angry. Stay active. Never stop. Because if we really believe in Britain as a forward looking decent democracy concerned about the future of our young people we will make sure our country gets a People’s Vote and we will fight to the end for the future we all believe in, and win it.’