A New Direction for Movement46
In August 2019, as Boris Johnson began his quest to remake the Conservative Party in his own image, Movement46 was formed. Its name harked back to the great schism in 1846 that led to the formation of modern Conservativism under Robert Peel.
The difference between then and now could not be starker. Peel liberalised the criminal law, acted to prevent discrimination, played a central role in expanding free trade, and passed legislation to increase the rights and protections of workers. And, at the height of the famine that was sweeping Ireland, chose to back the people as opposed to backing the wealthy.
Conservatives under Johnson have acted to reverse the country’s direction in every one of these areas.
The initial objective of Movement46 was to keep alive the concept of liberal internationalism and membership of the EU within a centre-right framework. But, over the last three years, the power of the nationalist right has grown.
Even though the political opposition has become more credible, it remains on the defensive. Too frequently, it is taking on elements of the agenda set by those on the right of British politics, as opposed to putting forward a vision for a country that prospers under more, not fewer, progressive policies.
There is still a strong thread in UK opinion that would support re-joining the EU – we are amongst them. But for the time being, and for most of the public, that debate is now over. More importantly, those on the right have moved on to other issues, such as limits on freedom of speech and removing the UK from the ECHR.
We must move on as well. We must not let ourselves fall into the trap of fighting yesterday’s arguments whilst those who have damaged us already turn their attention to other areas where they can turn the clock back.
We must move the focus away from engagement with the EU as an organisation and towards engagement with the values underpinning the coming together of the European nations over 70 years.
To further this aim, Movement46 is changing to become the Campaign for Shared European Values.
We will not only challenge those who would divide us. We will aim to rediscover the vision and determination of those leaders who, having seen where division leads, came together to deliver the most open, most compassionate, most prosperous, most peaceful period in the history of our country and continent.
If the last three years have shown us anything, it is that the real problems that face us and challenge our way of life, from pandemics to the climate to tyrants on our continent, do not respect international borders.
Although the actions of a Conservative government have driven the need for CSEV, it is not a partisan organisation. Common European values in such areas as Human Rights, Rule of Law, Free Trade, Free Speech, Freedom of Movement, Arts and Culture are an imperative for those in all parties and none.
Those who have sought to detach the UK from Europe and its values have had their day. A better future awaits – one where the progress achieved in Europe over the last 70 years is consolidated and extended. One where the rights of everyone are respected. One where cooperation is favoured over confrontation.
Our place in the history, the heritage, and the values of our continent remain unchanged. We are still European.