When the all-party group Britain in Europe seized to exist in 2005, British Pro-Europeans lost their organisational backbone, regardless of the fact how (in)effective it was while in existence. While there still is a sizeable number of Pro-Europeans, they are confronted with a public discourse which ranges from euro-sceptic to downright Europhobic, in general best characterised as euro-ignorant.
A big opportunity to stimulate a wider debate about Europe during the UK Presidency of the European Council has been missed. The Labour Party Conference in autumn 2005 (held during the UK presidency) saw fewer European fringe events take place than the Conference in 2004. This indicates a lack of capacity and organisation in the pro-European networks within the Labour Party, as well as across the political spectrum.
The European debate is underpinned by the question of market liberalism vs social capitalism. Closer European political cooperation can be an effective tool to reform in order to safeguard the European social model(s). Deregulated global markets infringe upon the capacity of national governments to impact on macro economic conditions in a meaningful way. Free market liberalisers and conservatives could well live with national governments rendered powerless by global markets. This is precisely why Non-Europe can never be an option for us on the left.
The European debate in general and on the left needs to be a pan-European debate about Europe. It currently consists of 25 different national debates about Europe. London is well placed to counter this parochialism. London is the European city with the largest number of EU-citizens from the 25 different nationalities. It is the most European of all European cities, the ideal launch pad for a truly pan-European debate about Europe. Pro-European think tanks are not an alternative to LME-London/Southeast. They provide useful analysis, insight and policy recommendations, but they cannot replace a political movement nor effective grassroots campaigning.
The Labour Movement for Europe in London and the Southeast should strives to
* build Labour Party capacities on Europe
o develop materials for political education on Europe and compile a list of speakers and actively encourage CLPs and affiliated organisations to make use of these resources
o network with and involve pro-European Labour MEPs, MPs, GLA members & Councillors
o provide a forum for programmatic debate on Europe
* provide a network for pro-Europeans on the left including Socialists/Social Democrats from other European countries who live in London/Southeast
* shape the public debate on Europe
o organise public events, conferences, seminars
o encourage pro-Europeans to write letters to newspapers, participate in radio call ins, participate in online discussions on Europe, etc.
o choose specific aspects of the European debate and run effective topical campaigns
o build a network of Pro-European journalists and journalism students