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A Call to Colleagues

By Ed Pond, Labour activist

Stay strong, Jeremy Corbyn. Your current stance that we are definitely leaving the European Union, and should support the beginning of that process, is correct and responsible. Your line on single market membership and vacillations on immigration policy are not so good, although well-meaning. 

Next time somebody whispers in your ear to change your tune on such things, don't falter. Do not be afraid to be as true to your original conviction on the supranational as you are with so much else. We will forgive that blip in June when you were 7 out of 10 in favour of it! Stay strong as you did through the recent leadership challenge, where the very pro-EU candidate was roundly rejected.

If you are one of those Labour members that dislike Corbyn, don't let that prejudice you on this issue. The issue is bigger than the current party leader, bigger than left or right, it is about who runs British affairs - the government chosen and removed by British voters, or appointed overseas officials. In that spirit, if Jeremy doesn't effectively hold the government to account during the process, then don't vote for him next time. Indeed, you could vote for someone like Keir Starmer - somebody of a rather different political persuasion who also gets that we must leave.

Stay strong, all former remain Labour MPs that have taken the referendum result on board. You have realised that many key Labour areas did not want to stay in an organisation that makes us a lot less able to stop wages dropping, job competition rising, services becoming stretched and communities abruptly changing. You can appreciate that ignoring this will truly hurt Labour electorally - forget about chasing the trendy London professional votes. We will lose some of those to the Lib Dems, but numerically the working class North is more significant, and the cause of stabilising the country more important. And we can win the trendy votes back, once the Lib Dems start letting them down again!

If you are an MP who respects the result but is still a single marketeer, devoted to full membership, then Labour Leave of course sees that as inconsistent and problematic. But despite this difference of opinion, there really is nothing to stop you supporting Article 50. You can get the process underway and then argue your case over the next two years. Our country and our European colleagues sitting around in limbo is not helping anybody, with opportunities being missed and tension increasing on both sides.

Stay strong, Labour party members up and down the country who were not afraid to speak out during the referendum, or even before when the New Labour hierarchy almost sold us down the Euro river. The referendum atmosphere was very difficult for those with our view, especially in a debate where the right were prominent and some unpalatable things were said. The once Eurosceptic position of the left was almost forgotten, and many of our party colleagues just could not accept it - viewing the whole leave movement as racist and 'little Englander' imperialism. If Tony Benn campaigns for something, it is categorically NOT racist or imperialist!

Be strong, those who still lack confidence in speaking up for their convictions in party meetings or on social media. You should have confidence because the referendum result vindicates you, and Brexit is happening. But don't gloat, or be rude to your former detractors. Call out bile from the hard right when it happens, as you always have done. Let's work together and be a real player in developing a healthy, politically varied, secession.


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