Posted on 06/03/2021Comments Off on ALISON BIDEN

When did you first attend the SODEM protest outside Parliament and why did you come? 

I can’t remember the exact first time. Sorry, I wish I could. I attended because I felt so strongly that Brexit is wrong, that the media is not balanced, that there was no other method of making my protest heard, and Steve was an inspiration.

Roughly how old are you?

I am 71 now. Would have been 69 on my first time.

How frequently did you come and when was the last time you attended?

I came intermittently, possibly about a dozen times in all. I can remember the last time – it was an awful, blustery wet day. But I can’t remember when it was. Probably sometime before the 2019 GE, Autumn 2019.

How far from Westminster do you live and what was your travelling time?

I live in a city which is 60 miles from Westminster. Door-to-door travel would be two hours each way.

What’s your favourite memory?

I have two: one unseasonably warm February day, we were besieged by a Brexit mob, and fragmenting into ever smaller groups.  Sometime in the afternoon, just as things were getting really fraught I could hear something in the distance, sounded a bit like music.  It got closer. Because of the people thronging around, I couldn’t see anything. Then, into view came a row of – I couldn’t make it out at first – huge, huge flags, all processing along. It was the group from Yorkshire, singing to ‘Ilkley Moor.’ Like in western films when the desperate heroes are besieged by Indians and and US cavalry rides over the horizon. I cried with sheer emotion – it was a wonderful sight and feeling. The opposition melted.

The other good memory is not so much at SODEM as afterwards: during the routine shout outside Houses of Parliament there were loads of press taking pictures. A few days later another SODEMite posted a photo of herself that had appeared in one of the papers, and there was me, in close up, centre of the picture. I had made the national press!

Tell me your story

2014 in the MEP elections, my husband realised there was a great anti-EU upswelling, so when the referendum was announced, he went into overdrive to campaign against leaving.  He stirred up the European Movement, produced an excellent little booklet about the EU, got funding, but then it took forever to be passed by lawyers. Eventually very late it went into print. Once ‘out there’ we couldn’t keep up with reprinting and distributing it. It was good – but too late. Meanwhile, I threw myself into street stalls, and helping with the booklet distribution.

Post referendum, we got to know a few like-minded people around the country and I did some protesting here and there … I am going to have to gloss over some of this … there was a march being organised for March 2017, and the plan was to get the Theresa May float from Germany to head it up. We were in the absolute thick of those plans. It was exhilarating and stressful all at once. Things went pearshaped, but we were intrigued that there was this ‘bloke’ called Steven Bray now on the radar. I knew the name because I had seen him post something before on social media about he would drive all the way from Wales with a big EU flag, or something, just to protest against the ref result. I had also seen a woman say she would stand outside Parliament in a sort of vigil (might have been Polly Ernest).

We were actually on holiday in France at the time of the March, but came back to the UK just to take part. A few days beforehand my husband started feeling ill, so withdrew somewhat from some of the arguments going on in the background. I got to go on the march, he didn’t. Within a week he was in hospital, in acute care, with a very serious and rare illness. He is still recovering. I have always been stubborn and won’t give up, so as and when I could, I would go to SODEM. I had/have other ‘protest’ activities also.  I haven’t said much about our involvement with the float because it’s not about us: the important thing is the protest.  

I was also instrumental in getting a EM group going in Basingstoke, in 2018. I felt very driven to actively fight Brexit. Now I just want this awful government out. I can’t dwell too much on it because what has happened since October 2019 is just too depressing. We were almost there. But I am not giving up or giving in.

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