?> Eoin Ward – 48 And Beyond

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So far Eoin Ward has created 7 blog entries.

October 2016

Leave voters need to make their voices heard too if they are against The Government’s anti-immigrant policies

By | October 16th, 2016|Updates|

One of our members, Chris W (pictured below), has contributed this thought-provoking piece on the role to be played by Leave voters in denouncing the government’s anti-immigrant policies. Chris is a former news reporter who has been working in public relations for the past five years. While no form of governance is perfect, Chris is a passionate believer in the benefits Britain receives from being part of the European Union and the world’s largest single market.

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Comedian Richard Herring tweeted last week: “All the people who said they didn’t vote leave because of immigration must be furious now Brexit is all about immigration. Silently furious.”

I’m curious to know what people who voted to leave the EU now think of the direction our new Prime Minister is planning to take the UK. Last week the Government claimed it is attempting to “reclaim the centre ground” by:

1. forcing companies to publish the number of foreign staff they employ – There are estimated to be more than 5m Brits living overseas, can you imagine the outrage if foreign companies were compelled to publish the number of British workers they had working for them?

2. using the uncertain status of more than 2m EU nationals living in the UK as a bargaining card in Brexit negotiations – It is estimated 55,000 of these EU nationals work in the NHS alone. If the UK Government does not guarantee them the right to stay then the NHS faces a very bleak future.

3. saying citizens of the world are citizens of nowhere – and therefore by implication not welcome to be citizens of the UK

4. proposing to help solve the UK’s multi-billion pound trade deficit by exporting innovative jams and marmalades

Theresa May also claimed she wanted to create a country that worked for EVERYONE – but seemingly only if you were born British. My belly feels like it has not heard so much political doublethink since 1984. Remember that many of the 37% of the electorate who voted to leave the EU were very vocal about sharing their pride for Britain during the referendum campaign. Leaders of the leave campaign also assured us Britain would be even more outward facing when we were outside the EU. They excitedly told us about all the far flung countries that would be queuing up to do trade deals with us once we had freed ourselves from the prison of being inside the world’s largest single market (membership of which has created all-time record employment levels for UK nationals).

So, what do we hear from leave voters about the latest batch of proposals from our Government for Brexit Britain? Very, very little. Through a particularly nasty piece of divide and rule politics, of which Machiavelli would be proud, Theresa May has cynically tried to nullify the 34% of the electorate that voted to remain in the EU. Last week May used the front page of the Daily Mail to “savage the liberal metropolitan elite” and accused liberals of sneering at and patronising the working classes. Yes, you head that correctly. Millionaire, Oxford-University educated, former financial consultant, Theresa May, who has promised a “fairer society” and to “crackdown on the privileged few”, has accused liberals of patronising people. As an example of the fairer society she wants to create May appointed 23 other millionaires to her 27-strong cabinet. Voices that wanted to remain in the EU (which had included Theresa May herself three months ago) are being whitewashed out of the debate.

Therefore it is important that those who voted leave also voice their objections when the Government crossed a boundary as these are now the votes our new Government care about. As land grabs go Theresa May’s attempts to claim the centre ground of British politics was about as successful as The Bay of Pigs invasion. If we want to stop the UK going down an overtly nationalistic path now is not the time to stay silent.

September 2016

Brexit and identity

By | September 27th, 2016|Updates|

“We want to be British, we don’t want to be European

This phrase was uttered by an interviewee in Jeremy Paxman’s BBC documentary about the EU which was broadcast about a month before the referendum. It has stuck with me ever since as I think it is central to understanding the outcome of the vote.

Identity is a very personal and complex issue. I personally believe that everyone should be free to choose their own identity rather than having one thrust upon them. I also think that people should be allowed to have more than one identity and not be pigeonholed because of a single defining characteristic. All of the above is perhaps unsurprising given the fact that I grew up in Northern Ireland where the issue of identity is a very thorny one, to say the least.

The Good Friday Agreement, the historic pact which secured peace in Northern Ireland in 1998, has a wonderful passage about national identity. It states:

“the people of Northern Ireland can choose to identify themselves and be accepted as Irish or British, or both”

I know many Northern Irish people from both sides of the sectarian divide who indeed choose to identify themselves as both. I am one of these people and always say I have a British head but an Irish heart. This dual identity perhaps also makes Northern Irish people more willing to call themselves Europeans than our English cousins.

Another factor could be age. The person interviewed on the Paxman generation was in their 70s and had lived through the aftermath of the Second World War. This was a time when Europe was deeply divided and there was a strong suspicion of anyone of foreign extraction. Holding on to your national identity was vitally important. The younger generation live in a time of increased mobility, intercultural marriages, bilingual children, Erasmus programs and low-cost flights. All of these factors make younger people more likely to embrace their European identity.

In conclusion, we are all more than just one thing. For example, I am proud to say I am Irish, British, European, a linguist, a member of the LGBT community and, as of 25th June 2016, the founder of a wonderful pro-EU community known as “48 and Beyond.” Let’s all embrace our different identities and the potential contradictions they may cause instead of desperately clinging on to just one of them.

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August 2016

March for Europe

By | August 23rd, 2016|Updates|

As you all probably know, a “March for Europe” will be taking place in London and in other cities around the country on Saturday 3rd September. This march will pre-empt the debate on the second referendum which is scheduled for Monday 5th September. A big turnout would therefore send a clear and powerful message to MPs in Westminster that we haven’t given up on overturning Brexit.

The “March for Europe” will hopefully be well attended by groups and individuals from around the country, of which “48 and Beyond” will be one. I will be travelling down to London for the march and hope to see as many of you there as possible. I have created an event on our main Facebook page where you can sign up. It would be great if we could all meet up at around 10.30am at the fountain outside Green Park tube station (Buckingham Palace exit). Please wear a blue 48% T-shirt if you have one and bring along any flags or banners you may have. I would also really like it if we could go for a drink after the march as it would give us a chance to get to know each other in the real world.

Think local!

By | August 15th, 2016|Updates|

As this group has shown, the online world is a great place to bring people from around the country, and indeed from around the world, together. However, I feel that you can’t beat meeting people in the flesh. Although this group was initially created on Facebook, one of the most satisfying things about it is when I see members meeting up in person. I can’t tell you how happy I felt when I saw the first local 48andBeyond group being set up in Reading. It is a great source of pride for us that local groups have now been set up all over the country. One of our administrators, Gemma, has been working hard on helping local groups and has produced a  guide to creating local groups which will go live very shortly. Mel Brown has also created a map showing where our local groups are located. Here are my top five tips for getting active locally:

1. Talk to friends, family members and colleagues who voted Remain. Meet up at regular intervals and brainstorm ways to take action locally.

2. Contact your local politicians (councillors, MPs, MEPs) who campaigned for Remain. They could give you some ideas on the type of action you can take.

3. Get in touch with local newspapers, radio stations and TV channels. Local media is often interested in local stories which have a connection to wider, national issues. A sample press release will be made available very soon. August is also a pretty slow news month so get a press release together within the next few weeks!

4. Make sure everyone in the group is working to their strengths. Encourage members to use any professional or professional contacts you may have.

5. Maintain good records of all your members’ contact details and keep them informed of any events you might organise.

On a personal note, I am hoping to set up a Manchester group in September and will be working more closely with that group than with the Facebook group. As I said in one of my tips, people need to work to their strengths and I feel my strength lies in dealing with people face-to-face rather than in the online world.

Party politics

By | August 7th, 2016|Updates|

First of all, I would like to thank you all for your continued support of and contributions to the group. We would not exist without you!

In this blog post, I was going to talk about forming local groups but there is another issue which has arisen in the group that I feel I need to address urgently: party politics. I have already mentioned on several occasions that this group has grown beyond my wildest expectations and that I’m amazed by the broad cross-section of society that has engaged in discussion on here. However, such rapid growth and so many members have presented us with a wide range of challenges. Right from the beginning, I said that I wanted this group to be about fighting Brexit from a cross-party perspective. This issue is bigger than any one political party or political leader. It is an issue which unites many of us behind a common goal irrespective of our age, level of education, hometown or indeed our political colours. Since setting up this group, I have had conversations with voters, members, councillors, MPs and MEPs from virtually all of the major political parties (guess which one I haven’t had much contact with?) and what we want to achieve is broadly speaking the same. We would ideally like to remain in the EU or, failing that, retain the same rights we currently enjoy as EU citizens.

Contrary to what some people may believe, the admin team at “48andBeyond” broadly reflects the political diversity of our members. We know that fighting against Brexit is an inherently political issue but urge you all to express your views in a respectful way which helps further our cause. Since starting the group we have relaxed our policy on party politics and members are now welcome to have non-partisan, reasonable political debate as long as they post comments which are relevant to the UK/EU and adhere to our rules. I am sure there are more appropriate groups in which to discuss internal party politics or leadership battles than ours, and I encourage you to seek these out while not abandoning us of course!

Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to thank our dedicated team of moderators who are all volunteers and are juggling their work in the group with their professional and family commitments. They help keep discussions in the group relevant and free flowing; no easy task for a group with 46,000 members. If this group has taught us anything, it is that you cannot please everyone. Our moderators get criticised for both overmoderating and not intervening enough. As a group, we have regular discussions about how much to intervene and have come up with guidelines which moderators are to abide by.  As a general rule, original posts that do not explicitly relate to the UK/EU issue will be deleted and comments will be turned off where conversation descends into party political sniping

As the founder of the group, I will not accept any abusive comments made towards the moderators. They are giving up their free time to facilitate your discussions about Brexit and are following guidelines which have been agreed by the entire admin team. If you have any specific complaints about moderation, please e-mail us at admin@48andbeyond.com.

Once again, thank you for your continued support!

July 2016

Why do you care?

By | July 27th, 2016|Updates|

I’m sure, like me, you’ve been asked this question over and over again. It is a question which can grate when you’ve been asked it as many times as I have but I think it’s important to have a clear justification for your actions. I touched on some of the reasons for my Europhilia in my “European 3 Heart Challenge” video which I put on Facebook earlier this week. However, in this blog post I will explore my reasons for starting this group and fighting this battle in more detail.

  1. I’m Northern Irish: It is completely unsurprising to me that so many of the people in different Remain organisations come from the island of Ireland. After all, Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK which shares a land border with another EU member state so we see the EU in action on a daily basis. Many Northern Irish people remember the dark days of “The Troubles” when crossing the border involved being stopped and questioned by the British army. Now, people cross the border several times a day without batting an eyelid. The only indicators that you’ve gone into the Republic of Ireland are the bilingual road signs and metric units for speed limits and distances. A member of the 48% group, who’s also from my hometown of Omagh, sent me some great photos of the border as it stands today (see below). Furthermore, a considerable chunk of the Good Friday Agreement, which finally established peace in Northern Ireland, hinges on the European Convention of Human Rights. It is unclear what will happen to this agreement if Brexit does indeed go ahead. I also firmly believe that EU has been responsible for vastly improving Anglo-Irish relations. After centuries of turmoil, the fact that the UK and the Republic of Ireland were both equal member states of the EU did a lot to defuse tensions and pave the way for a constructive relationship between the two countries.

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  1. I’m a linguist: Languages have played an important role in my life for over 20 years. I studied French and Spanish at university and, thanks to freedom of movement, lived in France and Spain for a number of years without needing any kind of visa. This time spent abroad helped me not only improve my language skills, but also gain an insight into the culture and mindset of the people who live there. What surprised me more about meeting people from elsewhere in the EU was not how different we were but how much we actually had in common. The numbers of young people studying languages in the UK has been on the decline for the past decade or so. This phenomenon will only be exacerbated if UK citizens no longer have freedom of movement as you can only really learn a language by going to live in the country/ies where the language is spoken.

  1. I’m an ardent supporter of employment, social and environmental rights: What has the EU ever done for us? Well, in terms of employment, social affairs and the environment it turns out they’ve done quite a bit. The UK was of course at the vanguard of employment legislation when it passed the Equal Pay Act in 1970. However, the EU has since introduced a raft of employment legislation ensuring, among other things, a cap on working hours, equal protection for part-time workers, parental leave and health and safety in the workplace. In terms of environmental protection, the EU has also funded projects which encourage biodiversity and the use of renewable energy. Many people who backed the Leave campaign described these rights as red tape but fail to see that these are benefits which have been fought for and acquired over the decades. There is no assurance that we will continue to have these rights if we leave the EU.

I hope that after reading this post you will have a better idea of my motivations. I’m sure you all have your own reasons for being part of this movement. Let us know what they are by taking part in the “European 3 Heart Challenge”.

An update from 48andBeyond

By | July 21st, 2016|Updates|

Hello everyone,

This is EP Ward, the founder of “The 48%” Facebook page. First of all, a big thank you for your continued support. It is great to see so many people contributing and commenting on the group page. Please forgive me for the lack of regular updates over the past few weeks but things have been incredibly busy behind the scenes. I also want to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the great group of people who help me run this page. We are all volunteers and have myriad other commitments alongside our work in this group.

From your comments, I sense that the time for moaning and groaning has passed, and that you want action. You can, of course, keep following the points on our original call to action list. However, I am pleased to announce that several plans for action are in the pipeline.

Here’s a list of developments over the past week or so:

  • Our aim is still to retain the UK’s membership of the EU. The group will facilitate this by acting as a central hub for Brexit-related information and by encouraging our members to take part in one big collective action per month. Our first monthly action will be announced shortly but I can tell you that it involves a large quantity of customised, handwritten postcards being delivered to 10 Downing Street. Preparations for this action are already in place and we hope to get our postcards to Mrs May in time for the debate on the 2nd referendum at the beginning of September.
  • We have also decided to set up sub-groups which will target specific areas (e.g. migrant rights, scientists in the UK…) and work alongside existing groups. We will create links with these groups so that we can support them, and they can support us. This will enable members to follow the topics that interest them and contribute their expertise more efficiently to the group. This plan will take shape gradually over the next few months.
  • We are in talks to get a video produced. The current idea being floated is based on the theme of “Being British is driving a German car to a Swedish furniture shop etc.” We want it to be very tongue-in-cheek and visual. This video will hopefully be ready within the next couple of weeks. We have had interest from a number of creative agencies who are willing to work on a pro-bono basis.
  • We are working on a forum which would help avoid repetition and encourage more productive discussions. This forum will need to be tested first but should be up and running within the next few weeks
  • We are working on shortlisting a selection of possible figureheads from a variety of fields who we could approach to help promote the group. We have delegated this responsibility to one of our members and expect his feedback by the end of this week.
  • There has been some talk about empowering members to work on initiatives without needing approval from the group. A recent example of this was waving EU flags at the Proms. showbox apk We want our members to act independently as long as their actions are discussed openly in the group and are in line with our objectives and working methods.
  • We now have a number of high-profile people in our group with whom we need to collaborate. As we keep saying, we are not politically aligned but we will need the support of politicians from across the political spectrum if we want to achieve our goals.

I am keen to hear your feedback on any or all of these topics. We strongly encourage you to keep contributing your own ideas to the group which will be picked up by the moderators and passed on to the admin team if they are deemed suitable and potentially effective.

Once again, many thanks for being part of this group. It has truly exceeded even my wildest expectations and would not be possible without you!.

 

Best wishes,

EP

 

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