We Remain Relevant

Back in the days when we could march…#StopTheCoup rally, September 2019. Photo © Clive Dellard.

As I self-isolate this Bank Holiday weekend, I feel united with millions across the land. We are all transfixed by Dominic Cummings’s brazen flaunting of the lockdown rules he was instrumental in formulating.

His transgressions feel like a vicious slap in the face to everyone who has been navigating mixed messages from the hypocritical Government, staying at home and upholding social distancing guidance.

It’s an unspeakable affront to the many frontline workers who contracted Covid-19 thanks to lack of PPE, sacrificing their lives and causing untold heartbreak.

And it’s a gut-punch to those whose family members died alone while they followed the rules.

As a passionate Remainer, these outrages rankle even more because Cummings was the chief architect of the Leave Campaign. He’s been wielding unchecked power at the top of the Tory Government and having a huge say in its response to coronavirus.

I trust the assertions made by tenacious Guardian investigative journalist Carole Cadwalladr that Cummings’s breaking lockdown is not the actual story. With Michael Gove, he has been systematically dismantling the Civil Service. And then there’s his relationship with big technology.

As I write, a growing number of Tory MPs are calling for him to go.

Over the past two months, the horrific mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic has led me to some dark moments. It has prompted me to contemplate good and evil, truth and lies. And to revisit other Government cover-ups like the Soviet Union’s handling of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

It doesn’t help that I have an underlying health condition which means that I must be extra careful. Nor does it help that I am a dual US/UK citizen. With Trump at the helm, I fear for my family and friends in America. When will I feel it is safe for me to get on a plane to visit them?

We Remainers have had a hell of time since last December’s General Election. It’s been very difficult to remain hopeful that we can influence the course of events.

This crisis should be a reminder to all of us. We are still relevant.

Let us remember what we have achieved so far. Starting in 2016, Bath for Europe built a vibrant local campaign group and made a big contribution to the national movement. We have been an especially potent and creative force. We organised weekly Saturday street stalls and Commuter Calls, monthly rallies and marches, introduced the Pulse of Europe to the UK, mustered our supporters by train and coach to the marches in London, Manchester and Exeter, and hosted top-flight speakers. Members of our team originated the iconic bEUret (seen in this NY Times article about the Cummings debacle), symbol of the Remain movement, and the Boris and Jacob-Rees Mogg banknotes that are now in the British Museum.

If we weren’t in lockdown, we’d be taking to the streets to march and protest today. I’d have a megaphone in my hand!

Instead, we must use our voices in different ways. Write to your MP. Write to Keir Starmer. Start a petition. Make a Freedom of Information (FOI) request. Support independent journalism. Write to the local papers. Make lots of noise!

Please stick with us. We are restarting our guest speaker series with Bath MP Wera Hobhouse speaking on Tuesday 16th June and former MEP Molly Scott Cato speaking on Tuesday 7th July. Stay tuned for more details soon.

Olivia Leydenfrost

“Stop the Coup” protest outside Bath Guildhall, September 2019. Photo © Clive Dellard.