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More inspiration from Amersfoort than from Rome

26 Mar 2017

More inspiration from Amersfoort than from Rome

It was a fortuitous coincidence: the ceremony in Rome on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the foundation of the EEC, and the SP party council in Amersfoort, occurred on the same weekend. I was really happy that I had not gone to Rome but was instead at the party council where we looked at last week's general election. I was pleased not only because of the constructive discussions and Emile Roemer's inspiring speech, but also because the media always give a misleading account of what occurs at SP meetings. The party council was and is harmonious and optimistic about the future, but I've not been able to read that anywhere.

One of the duties which the position of group vice-president in the European Parliament brings with it is that you are required to stand in for the group president at formal meetings when he or she can't make it. And so our group president, Gabi Zimmer, asked me if I could replace her in Rome. I thanked her for the honour, but the shindig in Rome was as fruitless as I predicted it would be in my last weeklog. The heads of government simply signed up to the statement and nobody pushed the reset button to truly for once transform the EU.

How different things were at the party council. Of course nobody was happy with the election results of either the SP, or three left-of-centre parties added together. But nobody's head was dropping. In general everyone agreed that we need to reach more people than is currently the case. As Emile said, young people and others who are doing all right but who want to express their solidarity with those who aren't would be at home in the SP. We are going to work on a positive message and attract such people. With Emile, but also with all of the other participants in the party council, there is an enormous determination to continue, with more themes, but above all with more people. Nobody will stay sulking on the sidelines.

After the meeting I returned to Rotterdam with renewed inspiration. It had been a good day. And yet the websites of certain newspapers told a totally different story: the members had big criticisms to make of the campaign, both in terms of content and of organisation. It seemed as if they were writing about a totally different gathering, yet this was indeed the party council. And so we must roll our sleeves up once more and get on with seeking out and recruiting people until such time as no newspaper can any longer deny that the SP is, more than ever, bubbling with élan.

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