Nick Bowen from Broxbourne CLP reports.
The launch meeting was held on 10 December at Enterprise House, Stansted Airport in front of an audience of about 50 people.
The proceedings were opened by Richard Howitt, MEP for the East of England, who commented on the needs of the east of England region and the advantages it gained from the European Union. He introduced RT Hon Hilary Benn, MP and Shadow Foreign Secretary who spoke for 15-20 minutes before taking questions from the Labour Party members and supporters. He stressed a number of key points in favour of the IN campaign: the economic advantages of European investment, trade and growth; the provision of jobs in the region and the country as a whole; the global influence secured by Britain within the EU; the long period of European peace since 1945 guaranteed by NATO and the EU; and the EU’s protection of employment and other rights, especially in the face of such Conservative measures as the Trade Union bill being considered in Parliament at the moment. Remember that Bryan Davies referred to this at our last meeting.
Hilary Benn answered a number of very good questions from members, including a final one from me. The questions included the extension of the franchise to people aged 16-18, the importance of facing the negative stories about the EU, such as the treatment of Greece, and social issues related to services and housing. I asked about the likelihood of the Conservative government being able to secure its supposed renegotiating points. Mr Benn’s answer indicated that there were real difficulties facing Mr Cameron since his room for manoeuvre was very tight and the opposition within his own party was so strong on certain key issues. I also showed him, and the meeting, a report called “The UK & Europe: Costs, Benefits, Options” (Regent’s University London, 2015 – Abridged & updated edition); he requested a copy which I passed on to him via the Regional Administrator of the East of England Labour Party.
Overall, it was a very good meeting and an excellent launch for members and supporters. Now, we need to get the message out to others in time to secure a Yes vote in the EU referendum.