Another Europe is Possible is a grassroots campaign mobilising undecided voters to stay in Europe in order to change it for the better.
A throng of people loiter in a former brewery-cum-music venue in Brick Lane. Six red fireman poles punctuate the charcoal-coloured interior, and the only light in the room is that reflected off a disco ball.
Just across the road in a different corner of the Old Truman Brewery, a similar gathering was held at the launch of Britain Stronger In Europe a few months ago. Tonight, a grassroots campaign, Another Europe is Possible, is pushing for a vote to stay in the European Union (EU).
While the two ‘In’ campaigns may be close in origin, they could not be further apart in their vision for Europe.
Another Europe is Possible is not seeking to be an official campaign, however it is pushing a radical vision for Europe, which, according to Green Party MP Caroline Lucas, is “a million miles away” from the kind of Europe David Cameron and Britain Stronger In Europe are talking about.
A different case for staying in the EU
If, come 23 June, the UK votes to remain in the EU, the agreement that Cameron secured for Britain in Brussels this weekend would immediately come into effect.
This includes reforms to child benefits for children of EU migrants living overseas, a seven-year ‘emergency brake’ on in-work benefits for EU nationals, an agreement that the ever-closer union does not apply to the UK, greater protection for the City of London and fewer regulations and interference by the EU into how businesses are run.
However, the various MPs, academics and activists at the launch of Another Europe is Possible put forward a very different case for staying in the EU, a case independent of Cameron’s deal.
Lucas is unshaken in her belief that the Prime Minister’s deal will not serve the interests of workers in the UK. She argues that his “dismal, desperate dreary and deregulatory” vision of Europe will not get people out of bed to vote to stay in the EU.
The former MEP, who is also a board member for Britain Stronger In Europe, admits that the EU has many faults and puts corporate interests above serving its citizens. However, she argues that to change the EU Britain needs to be in it.
“Our argument is by staying in the EU we can work with our colleagues across the EU to make a better trade and investment policy for the EU, for example. We won’t get that by walking away.”
The undecided voters
The most recent Survation poll for the Mail on Sunday indicates that 48 percent of voters wish to remain in the EU and 33 percent are in favour of leaving. This leaves 19 percent -or one in five people- undecided about which way to vote.
The number of undecided voters has fluctuated across various polls in the month of February ranging from 10 to 25 percent of voters. This group of approximately 10 million people could significantly influence the referendum result and the entire European Union.
Those voting to leave the EU have been identified by YouGov, Ipsos MORI and Survation as older, working-class voters aligned with right-wing parties, while those wishing to remain are more likely to be younger, financially secure, middle-class voters.
The undecided voters have been tagged as 18 to 39 years of age and predominantly female.
Another Europe is Possible campaign convenor, Luke Cooper, believes these undecided voters are key to the referendum.
“Labour voters in particular and progressive voters generally are really key to how the vote in the end goes because lots of labour voters are undecided,” Cooper says with calm assurance.
The Anglia Ruskin University politics lecturer explains how Another Europe is Possible provides a radical, left wing alternative to the mainstream ‘In’ campaign.
“Britain Stronger In Europe’s message is pitched very narrowly to conservative voters,” he continues, illustrating the pool of voters with his hands.
“We want to intervene in the public debate, we want to intervene in the media to say this is our alternative… these are the arguments that actually make me want to vote to stay.”
When asked their thoughts on Another Europe is Possible and the campaign’s attempts to appeal to voters who are not being reached by their mainstream ‘In’ campaign, Britain Stronger In Europe responded by simply saying they will gladly receive and work alongside Another Europe is Possible.
“We welcome all new and distinct voices in the debate making the case that Britain is stronger, safer and better off in Europe,” says Britain Stronger In Europe chief campaign spokesman, James McGrory.
“We look forward to working with Another Europe is Possible to make the positive and progressive argument for Britain’s place in Europe.”
An alternative campaign working closely with Another Europe is Possible to mobilise young, undecided voters, is Students For Europe. National Union of Students NEC officer Sahaya James is particularly passionate about remaining in the EU to build a socialist alternative to Europe.
“In June I will be voting the same way as David Cameron, but my reasons couldn’t be more different. The EU is a bosses club. The people who are running it are out of touch and their interests are firmly rooted in those who are privileged.”
Nobody is more optimistic for a people-centred Europe than Caroline Lucas. In her closing speech she argues that the problems in Europe can be better solved by working together:
The Europe Lucas is talking about is one which tackles global concerns through cross-border cooperation and by working with progressive movements across the EU.
“Another Europe is not only possible but she’s on her way, and, on a quiet day, I can hear her breathing,” Lucas tells the crowd in her closing speech. “I think we can hear her breathing tonight.”