The following article is by branch member, Philip Hodson.
The afternoon of Saturday, 28th September saw an exciting call to the Cherry Hinton Baptist Church in Cambridge to discuss the effect of Brexit on the city and key issues facing the Cambridge community. Our branch chair, Richard Fullerton, ever loyal to our cause, requested that I drive, while he honed his already pertinent ten minute speech.
The event was a delight. Urged to maintain decent thinking, kindly understanding of the other speakers, our Baptist hosts provided for a typically English environment, based on the goodness of human nature, stewed tea and a chocolate biscuit where each of us think of the other, not expecting or desiring personal reward.
First up was the Brexit Party man, Peter Dawe. Peter (a Cambridge entrepreneur and an ex-UKIP man) delivered a thoughtful review on the changes in Cambridge which he put down to lack of effective city planning for the so many people there now.
Second, was Jeremy of the Green Party. Jeremy delivered a mature and sensible overview of the environmental crisis in line with much of which is already in the public domain. He favoured staying in the EU citing the success of environmental efforts by that body.
At questions, I pointed out that before we joined the EU, farmers were protected from price falls by our deficiency payments system. (This made up losses to those farmers affected by price drops when the market became saturated for their crop and no-one wanted more. Conversely, the Common Agricultural Policy set guaranteed prices to farmers so high, they produced masses irrespective of demand, leading to the butter and beef mountains, and the "wine lakes" of the 'seventies, and 'eighties at huge cost to the consumer and European taxpayer). My point was that our deficiency payments system was far quicker to respond to farmer need, was much cheaper in that it applied only to farmers in need and better for the environment in that it didn't encourage farmers to plough up the continent to produce un-needed crops. I don't think Jeremy was really up with deficiency payments.
I also proposed that all our environmental problems were occasioned by our population being too high, which elicited gasps of disbelief from several happily-breeding mothers behind me. Jeremy stammered something and so we moved on.
Rod Catterall for the Lib Dems spoke on Housing and the unhoused. Describing himself as an "evidence-based" individual, he spoke persuasively on his expertise on the subject of housing, then attached his reasons for Remain without a shred of evidence included.
Daniel Zeichner, the Labour MP, showed himself to be a masterful and polished Westminster presenter, both in his stance and delivery. He spent much of his speech assuring us how leavers didn't know what they were voting-for while remainers did. For a rather tired theme, Daniel expressed his view masterfully. I thought of putting my hand up to say how "offended" I was to be told, as a Leaver, that I didn't know the facts, given that there were months of gloom battering my eyes and ears from the corporate world before we voted in 2016. But, I felt it somehow rather "wet" to claim I was "offended" - that's the sort of language you hear from LGBT protagonists, so, tongue-tied, I said nothing.
The event was ended by our Richard Fullerton. Richard sauntered up to the rostrum wearing his UKIP tie, right hand nervously in his pocket as if he didn't know where to put it and his papers in the left. Peering round-shouldered at his notes, I feared the worst, but no. Delivering in a rather flat but meaningful way Richard told his audience that he favoured 'Leave' not for the economics but for our sovereignty. The effect was immediate on the audience, who took to him, both leavers and remainers alike. Here was Richard, an ordinary man, just like them, rather tired of the whole thing, just telling them why he thought it best we rule ourselves - and everyone understood him. At questions, one woman asked rather ominously, "What do you mean by sovereignty?" And Richard, rather tiredly, explained he meant we should have control over our own laws, money, borders and seas. The audience warmed to him strongly, and the woman, sensing the mood, sat down.
All in all, both Richard and I were surprised to discover how many of the audience, of some thirty persons, were Leavers. So many in fact, that the Remainer sitting next to me said he felt very much in the minority. Clearly Cambridge is not as Remain as we thought.
I really do think it was Richard's input which decided the mood of the meeting in Leave's favour. He very much came over as the 'ordinary person with ordinary views' and his audience were with him.