The People's No Campaign...Mobile Advertising Hoarding in Parliament Square
Report From the Front Line
by Neil Herron
The 'Don't You Dare... Mr. Blair!" mobile hoarding proved popular with the press and media as well as the general public in and around the Westminster area.
Picture of the van and the press release click here
As Jack Straw made his statement to the House 'postponing' the second reading of the Constitution Referendum Bill we were being interviewed by German ARD TV.
It still appears as though we are getting more coverage in other countries than we are by the BBC. The German TV crew have spent so much time with us that I am expecting cult status equivalent to that of Baywatch's David Hasselhof...and you never know, I may be asked to sing when they knock down the Byker Wall.
The day had gone well with interviews with Channel 4 and NBC News and ITN and BBC gathering footage of the vehicle which has had exposure on The Six O' Clock News and Newsnight. Reuters and various picture agencies were also present.
During the day we managed to confront a number of europhiles as we 'loitered with intent' on College Green, Westminster.
Lord Kinnock was the first. I spotted him walking past our van which was parked up in Abingdon Street.
"Oi, Kinnock.Nice to see you. I hope you don't want to try and run away from the debate like Blair," I said.
"You're that guy from Sunderland, nice to see you again. It was Brussels last time, wasn't it?" he remarked.
He stated that the Treaty was dead but agreed that we should have a full debate and the public should be informed about our relationship with the EU and be allowed a referendum on the 'direction' we need to go.
He left saying, "If that means we have to leave, then so be it."
Next was Baroness Shirley Williams, who shuffled along with an overnight bag after being interviewed by one of the news crews.
"Baroness Williams," crooned Colin Moran of the No Campaign.
"It's a pleasure to meet you. Can I just ask you a question? Do you think it is acceptable for us to be governed by twenty five unelected Commissioners?"
Visibly uncomfortable at having to engage a member of the public she spluttered and stumbled. Not the usual confident politician.
"Surely it is time for the British public to have a full 'grown-up' debate regarding our relationship with the European Union?"
"Yes, yes I agree. It must be put to the people," and she scurried off in a great hurry...in the wrong direction.
Embarrassed, she then turned round to go back to the Lords looking like a rather confused 'bag lady.'
We walked past the entrance of the Commons as the van went on another loop of Parliament Square and literally bumped into the pink-tied Sir Menzies Campbell as he attempted to hail a taxi.
He had missed his chance.
He too was 'collared.'
"Sir Menzies," Moran opened, "How do you think Jack Straw's statement went?"
"Fine, fine," he said desperately attempting to avoid eye contact.
Moran came back. "Do you think it is acceptable that we are going to be denied the debate on our relationship with the European Union? After all, we are the people."
"You were all asked in 1975," Campbell came back.
"Ah but there was no Parliament then, and we weren't told it would have supremacy," said Moran.
"Yes there was," Sir Menzies mistakenly replied.
"The Parliament, Sir Menzies, was set up in 1979, four years after we agreed to a Common Market."
A swift body swerve and dive into the back of the black cab brought relief for Sir Menzies Campbell.
Polite confrontation by the public exposes their weaknesses. It exposes the deceit. They cannot talk their way out as they can in the controlled environment and protocols of TV and radio studios. The interviewers and journalists rarely go in for the kill...their careers depend on repeat visits.
The key to the success of what we are going to do with the People's No Campaign is to get people challenging their elected representatives. They are uncomfortable with a well-informed member of the public a few feet away.
The game's up and they know it.
The strategy is to stop them from running away and hiding in the bunker.
Our campaign will be confrontational and we will do the things that the 'establishment' campaigns will not.
We will however, conduct ourselves with good manners and observe the necessary protocols but we will not accept flannel, lies and spin.
The last one of the day was the BBC's Andrew Marr. Our van was back at College Green as he did the Six O' Clock News broadcast with the Palace of Westminster as the backdrop. As he finished he began walking back to Millbank.
Moran went over to politely introduce himself, but at the same time another film crew, who appeared to be either Spanish or Portuguese, turned to film the van. Andrew Marr looked at Colin, looked at the van, saw the film crew and perhaps thought it was a set-up...his jaw dropped and he appeared visibly startled...and he ran. He ran past the van like a whippet back to Millbank.
So, The People's No Campaign 'arrived' and made its mark.
Next stop Brussels for the European Council meeting on the 16th June...perhaps with a van, perhaps with a balloon, perhaps with a boat but most certainly with a message from the people...stop running Tony.
This project goes nowhere until you put it to the people.
Tuesday, June 07, 2005
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