2013 marks the fortieth year of the UK’s membership of the EU, and it marks 40 years of Brussels Labour.
At the start of 1973, a group of enthusiasts formed what was then called the British Labour Group (BLG) to bring together Labour Party members and supporters in Brussels. The driving force was Alan Forrest (at the time an official at the ICFTU), who became the first Chair. Right from the start, the BLG attracted high level speakers: on 29 March 1973, George Thomson, the first British Labour Commissioner, spoke on ‘Socialism, Internationalism and the Common Market’. And over the years, the Party headquarters came to acknowledge the value of Brussels Labour (though it took some twenty-five years of campaigning to get formal recognition).
We plan to mark this milestone through a number of interlinked strands, including:
- a project to capture the memories of those forty years through the voices of Brussels Labour members and others;
- a series of events throughout the year; and
- a gala dinner (as we did for the 25th and the 30th anniversaries).
We will associate the Party, including our MEPs, in these activities, as well as other sister parties notably from the other countries – Ireland and Denmark – which joined the EU in 1973.
Work is now starting on these three different strands so if you would like to get involved, please let Belinda Pyke know. The intention is to complete the first strand this year so it can be launched at the start of 2013 and we need help in particular:
- to identify contact current and former members/office holders/speakers (including in the UK);
- to interview, to photograph, to edit contributions; and
- to turn all this into an online presentation, maybe also in printed form, linked to narrative about history of BL and also about development of UK and/or Labour Party attitude to the EU.
We will report regularly to branch meetings and in Germinal on the preparations for Brussels Labour’s 40th.