A deeply misguided individual sent a letter into Swindon Advertiser comparing actions of Remains (who have always acted lawfully) with the actions of the seditious Trump supporters who violently attacked the US congress: https://www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/news/18994115.letters-democracy-means-accepting-vote-result/?fbclid=IwAR1IspL4CSIxVDle__egLy9DdwkG9PzIAM4ohwdQZQlmZy8l0ztDoCJ-b4M
Swindon for Europe have composed an official response (see below), however many of our members were also outraged and sent letters in. We encourage anyone who agrees with us to do the same!
Swindon for Europe response:
In defence of our campaigners and hundreds of Swindonian members and supporters, we feel we must refute Allan Woodham’s claim that Remainers have acted similarly to Trump’s supporters who stormed Capitol Hill. Allan’s letter seeks to capitalise on the damaging and divisive culture war which was triggered by the 2016 Brexit referendum. It is well known that stirring up division enables populists to inflame, amplify and entrench their voter base. If Brexit supporters, such as Allan, capitalise on this division by associating the vast number of British people who vocally disagreed with Brexit to Trump’s violent attempted coup, then they are playing with fire.
This kind of slander sets a dangerous precedent for any future lawful protest in our country which disagrees with the executive. It castigates the protesters as ‘enemies of the people’ and ‘enemies of democracy’. We have all seen in history where that leads. We must not allow ourselves to be turned against our friends, relatives and neighbours by this kind of talk.
Our pro-EU campaigning was always peaceful and good-natured. We sought to persuade, not bully or force. We campaigned to achieve a second look at the question of our relationship with Europe by directing our efforts to act within the democratic structures and institutions of our country, not to overturn them. The necessary checks and balances of parliament and our law courts were being threatened and shut down (through prorogation) by Johnson’s Brexit mad administration and we objected to this. Britain is not normally governed by plebiscite and executive decree. We objected to the Tory press such as the Mail screaming that our High Court judges (who found against the government in Gina Miller’s Article 50 case) were ‘Enemies of the People’…just as the Nazi papers did in 1930s Germany. We were horrified at the constant death threats towards Gina Miler and Remainer MPs. None of this behaviour felt like the Britain we had known and loved. It is more akin to the hysterical and ultimately murderous atmosphere we associate with totalitarian revolution. We were subject to harassment and intimidation by the Far Right at our protests, some of whom were dangerous and previously convicted criminals. The people shoving Union flags and England flags in our faces could not conceive that we also loved our country, seeking to amplify its power and democracy by playing a decisive role in a bigger league, yet they hurled the word ‘Traitor’ in our faces. That is an extremely dangerous word.
Our campaigners in Swindon suffered constant verbal abuse, threats and even occasional assaults where we had to involve the police on multiple occasions. In many ways, it is because the remain campaigners were so non-threatening that they were easy meat for the aggressive to pick on. Yet, in the face of all this our campaigners never refused to go back out on the street. They may have been peaceable, attempting to employ rationale argument and persuasion, but they were also implacable and very determined. Typically, the Anti-Brexit marches were full of music and humorous street theatre. Over one million people marched for a second referendum on multiple occasions without one single arrest.
In contrast to this, there have been many arrests at the Capitol and five people have died so far. Goodness knows what would have happened if they had actually got hold of Nancy Pelosi, or any of the other senators. American courts have investigated the alleged electoral fraud and found it to be imaginary. Trump has been forced by his own party to publically disavow the violence he has whipped up and is now in danger of impeachment.
To compare this to the Remain campaign in any way is such a gross distortion of the truth it could have been spoken by Trump himself! In defence of the many thousands of pro-European Swindonians, our EU citizen migrants, their spouses, relatives and friends, we are compelled to refute it.SWINDON FOR EUROPE
Sam Hollings letter:
There is simply no parallel between pro-Europeans, who have acted peacefully and in accordance with the law, and the seditious mob which entered the US Congress with the intent of stopping a constitutional process from taking place by force. Allan complains about act’s of parliament being used to delay Brexit, however by definition these are expressions of the peoples’ will through their elected representatives. Allan also mentions court cases – something which we all have recourse to in the case of illegal or unconstitutional activity. Even court cases which seemingly frustrated the referendum result were totally legal, because they can only make things happen according to the law. Finally, demonstrations are a cherished part of our democracy, and as long as they stay peaceful simply allow people to express their opinion. In contrast, what we saw in Washington was neither lawful nor peaceful. An armed mob prevented lawmakers from doing their work through force. Indeed, the only instance of anything with the same outcome as this happening in the UK was when Boris Johnson *illegally* prorogued Parliament, preventing them from meeting and going about their business.Dr Sam Hollings
Adam Poole’s Letter:
Dear Sir/Madam Allan Woodham (EA letters 8th January) neglects to include one important point when he compares Remainers to the Trump supporters who recently stormed Congress to protest against the American Election Result. Whilst there is no doubt that the result of the American Election was fully fair and democratic, the same cannot be said for the 2016 EU Membership referendum when the leave campaign lied and broke both electoral law and data protection laws in obtain votes. Simply put, the 2016 referendum was neither fair nor democratic. This was confirmed during the various legal challenges to the result when the Government admitted that the referendum result was seriously flawed but went on to rely on the legal loopholes that the law breaking by the leave campaign came to light too late to be taken into account and that the referendum was advisory rather than mandatory to defeat those legal challenges. Mr Woodham is therefore not comparing like with like. In the US, Trump supporters are trying to overturn a democratic decision. In the UK, Remainers are upholding and defending democratic values. Yours faithfullyAdam Poole
In a letter by Allan Woodham democracy means accepting vote result (SA 8.1.2021) Allan misses the point entirely and is mistaken and foolish to try to link remain voters with violent Trump supporters where five deaths have resulted. He has not only impugned the reputation of millions of peaceful remain voters but undermined his own arguments about democracy. To try to compare the recent events in Washington with remain supporters is absurd when only recently on at least three occasions over one million remain supports marched peacefully without any incidents of violence in London alone, along with countless other peaceful protests in every part of the UK. Moreover about half of the voting population voted remain and all protests have been peaceful and non violent over for four years. Allan`s definition of democracy is completely flawed. He misunderstands completely that democracy is not about everyone agreeing with a result and accepting a result. Quite the opposite in fact – democracy is about people having the right to hold varied and differing views and being able to express those opinions through free speech and peaceful demonstration. Mr Woodham is confusing acceptance with compliance which is to misunderstand the nature of our constitution and the process of law. Either he is deliberately trying to mislead or does not understand the fundamental basis on which democracy exists. I strongly contend that the majority of remain voters wish to, and have complied with parliament and the law, and parliament`s right to try to enable the referendum result; and at the same time have the right to contend and not accept that the result was not in the best interests of our country, creating division in Europe after 80 years of peace and diminishing to the future prospects for people to travel and work in many EU countries. This central tenet of democracy has been explained by many prominent leading commentators including Ken Clarke and others on many occasions. Mr Woodham clearly has not been listening or misunderstands or is trying to mislead on the nature of democracy and this is dangerous and illegitimate. His own interpretation and definition meets the requirements of a more totalitarian society where intolerance, violence and intimidation are more normal, and the right to protest against injustice or have to accept every decision is questioned.
I suggest that Mr Woodham reflects on his assertions and tries to reconcile his position and explain why he has tried to draw parallels between peaceful opposition to the EU and the violent attempts to cause insurrection and overthrow a democratically elected Congress. If he is trying to make false assertions many of which were part of the leave campaign he is along with the published photograph seeking to mislead. On the other hand if he genuinely thinks there is any similarity between these two political scenarios he is either gravely mistaken, unable to comprehend the argument or perhaps more worrying trying to join the kind of media hysteria and disinformation in many parts of the press trying to appeal to a narrow and nationalistic ideology.