A Year In Renew - pt.I
- The UK officially leaves the EU after 47 years. 66m people lose their freedom of movement.
The next day, Renew are invited to speak and present at the Citizen Beta event for those involved in building 'Civic Tech' at the impressive London College for Political Technologists. This brilliant initiative brings the tech and political world together for refreshingly benevolent reasons and is a real breath of fresh air. We speak on our history, our people, about Digital Democracy and the open politics project. Some young technologists are persuaded to join us.
- Sajid Javid is fired from the cabinet for refusing to kow-tow to Dominic Cummings and his SPADs.
- Priti Patel suggests that work done by EU migrants might now be done by 8.5m economically inactive, 70% of whom turn out to be long-term sick, retired, students and home-carers.
- The Home Office's top civil servant, Sir Philip Rutnam, resigns following a series of clashes with the Home Secretary, Priti Patel.
- New Gov't Slogan: 'Wash Your Hands and Sing'
In March our London Mayoral Campaign with Kam Balayev gets underway in earnest. The strategy and platform are thrashed out and we begin the colossal task of collecting 330 nomination signatures, 10 from each of 33 London boroughs, and verifying them against the electoral rolls. Every borough provides their own roll in a completely different format, ranging from excel to encrypted, password-protected ciphers via homing pigeon to morse code to semaphore to treasure hunt. This is not a straightforward task. And then...
Lockdown hits and the election is postponed. Everything changes.
- The UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson catches Covid-19 after innocently shaking hands with virus patients and boasting about it.
- Alex Salmond is cleared of sexually assaulting nine women.
- New Gov't Slogan: 'Stay Home, Protect the NHS, Forget Brexit'
In April, we pivot effortfully to digital operations. Our eminent Chairman Richard endeavours to master Zoom, Google Meets, facebook live, and Skype, all in a few weeks and all with a rotary phone; it is spectacular to behold. We launch a series of live meet-ups, skills exchanges (a.k.a. online guitar lessons), outreach discussions and hang-outs.
The nation claps for the NHS and, for a moment or two, it feels like we are all in this together.
- Michael Gove admits that the PM missed five early COBRA meetings.
- Phone masts are burned following rumours that Covid-19 is caused by 5G signals.
- The Prime Minister fathers his sixth or seventh child.
Renew conducts a long series of stakeholder consultations online to seek consensus on a new direction following Brexit and the 2019 election result. We settle on a return to the original idea that galvanised the formation of a new party; that of participation and reform, providing a platform for people from all walks of life to take part in the political sphere and bring their skills and experience to bear, with the goal of reforming the system with a genuine grassroots movement. We rebuild our team of spokespeople and regional coordinators, reinvigorate our comms and successfully recruit a number of new talents into the party.
Whilst all this is happening, Renew members confess developing some odd habits during lockdown.
"I haven't worn a bra in five weeks and I'm not sure I can ever go back."
"I watched the seven 'original' Police Academy movies. So bad they are good."
"I have two collared shirts sitting next to my work-station at home. I put them on before work meetings where I’m required to be on camera. I haven’t washed them in five weeks."
"I’ve made acetone.. completely homemade. And I made malt liquor using my saliva as a starter of fermentation and got drunk on it... really bad idea."
- Dominic Cummings visits Barnard Castle.
- We learn that Michael Gove has also 'often' driven a car in order to test his eyesight.
- The entire cabinet are instructed to tweet their support of the man who single-handedly proved that we are not all in this together.
- Covid-related deaths in the UK surpass those in Italy.
- Keir Starmer is elected leader of the Labour Party following a rancorous four month process. Jeremy Corbyn supporters accept this outcome graciously (joke).
- A 'Senior Gov't Source' claims that people are 'becoming addicted' to furlough.
- The PM claims that a 'world-beating' test, track and trace system will be up and running by June 1st.
- New Covid alert system is launched. First alert is about a 3.25 to a 3.7 (medium spicy).
- New Gov't Slogan: 'Stay Alert, Close Your Eyes, Save Boris'
In June Renew focussed on outreach to disenchanted members of other parties, to the re-engagement of former Renew members, to building a new plan to approach donors and for the recruitment of a new intern. Membership begin to regrow and we find that people who had been aware of us for months and years were deciding to pull the trigger and get in touch. Our 2020 Strategy document is published on the website and it begins to feel like we are moving forward again after a difficult few months.
Meanwhile, Kam continues his campaign for London Mayor, after most of the other candidates have quit or taken the summer off.
- Marcus Rashford shames the Gov't into a U-turn over school meals.
- Dominic Raab describes knee-taking as a 'symbol of subjugation'.
- Pubs reopen on 'Super Saturday'.
- Conservative donors SERCO earn around £90m in fees for the failed test and trace system.
- New Gov't Slogan: 'Hands, Face, Bum, Legs, Disco'
Thanks for reading. Next week, pt.II, covering July-December.