The ‘In’ campaign

Derek Vaughan says an ‘In’ campaign for Europe must make emotional arguments, not just those around the economy.

A referendum on the UK membership of the EU is now inevitable. Although we don’t know a date yet, it would not surprise me to see it brought forward to autumn 2016. If we are to have it then bringing it forward to reduce economic uncertainty makes sense.

We also now know the proposed question which means the “In” campaign will also be the “Yes” campaign. We also know the Government’s proposals on who should be able to vote in the referendum. Although, excluding 16 and 17 year olds, EU citizens living in the UK and many ex-pats living abroad is likely to be challenged in the House of Commons, the House of Lords and maybe even legally.

In recent weeks we have also seen those in favour of staying in the EU come out fighting. For a long time we have known the CBI and the Engineering Employer’s Federation (EEF) were strongly supportive of EU membership and now individual companies like Airbus and Ford are making their voices heard. Anyone who works for exporting companies or their suppliers will now start to think seriously about the threat of the UK being outside the EU which could result in these companies moving elsewhere in the EU to avoid paying tariffs. The same can be said for farmers who would not only lose their CAP funds but would also face huge, and I mean huge, customs duties on their products which are exported to EU countries.

Recently we have also seen the start of a campaign by Universities UK in favour of EU membership. I would also expect support from trade unions whose members benefit from the jobs and workers rights that EU membership brings. Hopefully the voluntary sector which benefits from EU funds will also find their voice. Last but not least, given my local authority background, I would hope Councillors at Councils across Wales will publicise the huge benefits EU funds have brought to their areas.

All these economic gains for Wales are important and will be highlighted in the campaign. However the “In” campaign will also need to make the emotional argument. To explain that the EU has brought us 60 years of unprecedented peace and that people, particularly young people now have the opportunity to travel, and work across the continent.

The question however, remains who will take the lead in putting forward these arguments for EU membership. It seems that the main pro-EU organisations like British Influence, the European Movement and Business for New Europe are in talks to create a single, united organisation to lead the campaign. This single organisation will have supporters from across the political parties and across sectors.

This new organisation will need a figurehead(s), maybe a well-known business person, sporting professional or an influential public personality. An alternative would be a dream team of well-respected politicians such as Rhodri Morgan, Dafydd Elis Thomas, Nick Bourne and Mike German.

Underneath this each political party will want to undertake its own campaigning. The experience from the Scottish referendum shows there needs to be space for individual party campaigns. It is important each Party has the opportunity to use messages that maximise the support of its voters. I shall certainly be encouraging my own party to get ready to campaign as soon as possible.

What I have described here will take a lot of organising and time to put into place. The “Out” campaign will be small but vocal and aggressive. The “In” campaign needs to be ready for this. The sooner the better.

Derek Vaughan is the Labour MEP for Wales. This article was first published on his blog (

5 thoughts on “The ‘In’ campaign

  1. Good article, but I think Derek is far too modest. Surely as our MEP he should lead the In Campaign.

  2. This looks and sounds more like ‘propaganda’ than a balanced and reasoned argument for staying IN,rather than OUT!!.The EU is no more responsible for peace in western Europe since 1945 than NATO which included the USA and its many a)bases,b)money,c)nuclear weapons et al. A free market in goods and services is vital for economic development,however the EEC has not finalised the process,due to ‘vested’ interests within individual countries.I do not think the opposition to EEC have much to worry about as the whole project as a POLITICAL entity will shortly collapse due to the inherent problems in the EURO,with Greece as an example and when Grexit happens the markets will turn other ‘basket cases,i.e Spain/Portugal/Italy.We were told by the European ‘fanatics’ that not joining the Euro would result in the demise of UK economy and lack of political influence,well that looks a poor position in hindsight,and so it will be if BREXIT comes about. The EU has provided huge amounts of cash,mainly in effect UK/German/Dutch taxpayers money to wales,and due to mismanagement of our economy this will continue for short period,but after latest ‘tranche’ the money will go to eastern Europe.Where has the money received to date gone???.The idea that the UK cannot run its a)economy,b)social infrastructure without being member of EEC is a JOKE,and quite the reverse as the late and very great Lady Thatcher told us many times.

  3. Somebody else who doesn’t seem to understand that in EU terms Wales is just a NUTS1 Region…

    This stupid ‘double-lock’ grandstanding from the Celtic Regions is likely to back-fire again – it’s another reason for the people in England to demand that the over-funded anti-British Celtic Regions should be cut loose to fend for themselves! Be careful what you wish for when you set up your Welsh Europhile/anti-British campaign to vote Yes to staying in the corpse the EU evil empire is rapidly becoming…

  4. Derek is absolutely right to argue for a positive campaign. The “in” campaign should not only look to the gains of the past but the potential in the future. Much of the shape of the current EU – including areas criticised by the current UK Government – arose when Britain took a leading role with our best politicians and civil servants guiding the formation of policy and leading opinion forming committees. Significant issues facing us over the next 50 years, including climate change, will only be tackled through concerted action. Not only do we need to argue to stay “in” but to follow that with the resources to ensure the UK leads the arguments in the best interests of us all. To do that, working in Brussels will have to become an attractive career choice, perhaps even an essential career choice for those aspiring to rise in Cardiff, Westminster or the private sector.
    For the referendum there is much to learn from Scotland’s “yes” campaign not only in its positive and aspirational campaign but also in the way it excited debate at every level leading to an inspirational turn out for the vote itself.

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