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Letters: Join Labour to change Labour

Jeremy Corbyn (centre) with shadow cabinet members (left to right) Diane Abbott, Ian Lavery, Kate Osamor, Tom Watson and Sarah Champion (Photo: Danny Lawson/PA) - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Readers respond to Andrew Adonis’ call for a referendum on Europe – exclusively for members of the Labour Party.

The article by Andrew Adonis last week stated that there are 600,000 Labour members. Well, as of Saturday, there are now at least 600,001. That was the day I joined the Labour Party for the first time, after supporting them at the ballot box for many years.

What was interesting about the online application was being asked the question ‘why do you want to join?’. I wrote ‘Firstly, I want the UK to remain within the EU. Secondly, I want to see the profits from capitalism to be fairly distributed amongst the working population; education; health and welfare services. Not too much to ask’.

This is one way to get the message across to the Labour Party. The call for a referendum (just for Labour) is compelling, as it would give a clear instruction to the leadership from within the party ranks. As a member, I am now in a position to have some influence on the outcome of such a vote. Feels a bit like taking back control.

David Collins, Blyth

There is a real opportunity offered by the fact that the much-followed rapper Not3s is opposed to Brexit, but doesn’t know what to do about it (TNE 8-14 February).

Were he and like-minded musicians to join up with the young Remainers of Our Future, Our Choice they could put pressure on Jeremy Corbyn to campaign to support a second referendum.

To ensure this approach gets maximum coverage, these young activists should replace the feel-good but directionless, chant of ‘Oh Jeremy Corbyn’ with ‘No Brexit, Jeremy Corbyn’.

Colin Hines

Much as I respect the courage of Gina Miller in her fight against the madness of Brexit, I think Lord Adonis provides the more realistic assessment of how Labour is confronting this issue and he says that Momentum is overwhelmingly pro-Europe. This contrasts starkly with Gina Miller’s assertion that Momentum wants to take this country back in time just like the Tory Brextremists.

They cannot both be right, and many centrist pro-Europeans seem to think that continually being nasty to Corbyn will somehow further the remain cause.

Phil Levy, Swanley

Thank you for the responses to my letter (in Issue 80, condemning attacks on Jeremy Corbyn in TNE). Could I just have a few last words, in order to correct a few misconceptions?

I did not say it was the EU that ‘brought poverty and deprivation’; that was neo-liberal governments dancing to the capitalist tune of redistribution from poor to rich – including, unfortunately, the last Labour government. A Labour government led by Jeremy Corbyn would start to redistribute the other way – from rich to poor – ie changing policy and direction, not ‘chanting’.

As regards the call for a referendum of Labour Party members on Brexit: policy is made by the membership at conference.

Those leading the call don’t have a very good record of understanding or acting on the views of Labour Party members, preferring to ignore us when they are in government, and when in opposition, forcing an unnecessary and disruptive leadership contest on us.

Finally, why this fetishisation of referenda? Did you all enjoy the EU one that much? As an avid remain campaigner, I hated it, and it’s not something I’d like to repeat any time soon.

We should continue to criticise and campaign against the Tories’ ‘hard Brexit’ and, if necessary, vote against it in Parliament, explaining our decision to the British people. However, attempts to disrupt it now by calls for a referendum will be seen as a spoiling tactic by bad losers.

Jim Hoyle, Bollington

Have any other New European readers noticed the tone of our opponents changing in recent days? As the regional assessments lay bare the extent of the damage Brexit will do and the Japanese serve notice to our businesses, the mood is now not ‘Brexit will benefit Britain’ but ‘it will be the Remoaners’ fault when Brexit goes bad’.

The evidence is everywhere, but typical is the Twitter page of Lord Digby Jones, the Brexiteer businessman. He has spent the last few days accusing Remainers of ‘undermining Britain from within’ and ‘doing Barnier’s work for him… We’ll end up with a lousy deal & you will be to blame’.

How? A lousy deal was inevitable from the start, because members of a club are not likely to give preferential deals to non-members. But Digby-Jones and his colleagues insisted that they would.

In recent days I have heard a Question Time audience member, a Cabinet Minister (Liam Fox) and several phone-in callers all accuse Remainers of ‘talking Britain down’. Search for the phrase on Twitter and the number of responses make it look like an organised campaign.

This is a lie which Remainers must challenge. When Brexit fails it will not be us to blame. But it is a persuasive one for Leave voters who will naturally struggle to come to terms with their vote, bringing economic misery to themselves and their families.

How do we nail this one before they try to get away scot-free?

David Hanley

Beginning with Boris Johnson’s Valentine’s Day massacre of the facts, we are to be bombarded with Brexit vision statements from the upper echelons of the Tory party.

These will be addressed to the country but actually intended for only one constituency: the Conservative Party in Westminster and the UK (or rather England) at large.

We know the Tories always put party before country; we saw it in Cameron’s disastrous gamble for a quiet life.

These Brexit broadcasts have nothing to with bringing a divided country together. They have everything to do with bringing a divided Conservative Party together.

J Derbyshire, Leicester

I salute Boris Johnson for fitting in the time to make a Brexit speech on Valentine’s Day.

Knowing what we know about his personal life, I would imagine it is rather a busy day for him.

Pepe Le Pew, Paris

My grandson collects football cards. He gets most of the ones he is missing by swapping in the playground at school, with everyone agreeing that some cards are more valuable than others and therefore worth two or three ‘normal’ cards.

This year things have become more difficult. His best friend convinced him their local school swap was a ‘con’ and said he could get any card my grandson wanted on a one-for-one basis by giving them to his cousins, who would swap them at their own schools elsewhere in the country.

My grandson then told his school friends he was not going to swap with them anymore.

He boasted he would get a complete set before anyone else.

However, his best friend has since come back to him and said he can get the cards my grandson needs but also produced a list of the ones he will need to exchange. Needless to say, all the ones needed are the very ones my grandson wants to keep. What is more, only a few of his ‘wants’ appear to be available and, worse still, he cannot choose the ones he gets for the ones he gives.

‘Granddad’, he asked, ‘I think this is unfair and I don’t know what to do.’

I saw an opportunity to educate the boy. ‘Well, what you call ‘swapping’ is really another word for ‘trading’.

So when you are told you can get a better ‘trade’ in the other schools that does not just mean you get everything you want. The other boys will want things in return. Trading is a two-way process.’

I told my wife the story. She was impressed. ‘That is pure Brexit. Why don’t you send it to The New European,’ she suggested.

I chuckled. ‘But I made the whole story up. None of it is true.’

‘Exactly. Pure Brexit!’ she replied.

Paul Stein, Pickering

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