Our country and our party are going through difficult and turbulent times. I am deeply saddened by the result of the referendum, and the harmful impact it will have on young people, and on the most vulnerable in our society.
Clearly, I am disappointed that our campaign did not lead to a vote to remain and I am angry that 16 and 17 year olds were excluded from the process along with others such as British nationals who live abroad and many EU nationals who live, work or study in the UK, paying into our tax economy.
The campaign was divisive with the Leave campaign preying on people’s fears, using misinformation, and stirring up hatred in our society. The right wing media also played a part in this, amplifying the anti-migrant message. In the run-up to June 23rd we saw an increase in activity from the far right with the appalling murder of Jo Cox MP on June 16th, killed for her political beliefs. Since the result was announced on June 24th there has been a sharp increase in racist incidents on the streets and online, in our schools and workplaces. It seems that the success of the Leave campaign has emboldened racists and the far-right. Here in the European Parliament Marine Le Pen of the Front National crowed with delight as she spoke immediately after Nigel Farage on June 27th.
We live in difficult times in a dangerous world with scenes not unlike the 1930s. The Labour Party now must do its best to act as an effective opposition, and represent the interest of its voters, members, activists and supporters, and particularly the 48 % of the British public who voted to remain in the EU and also those who have subsequently regretted their decision.
All parts of the Labour Party must deeply reflect on the referendum campaign, and on the direction, we need to take now. The Party must continue to fight for working people, vulnerable people, and young people, whose futures are all at stake after this vote. Austerity has failed the people of Britain and the people of Europe and this referendum result reflects that all too clearly. We need an anti-austerity leader backed by clear party policy and grassroots support.
In midst of terrible uncertainty, the process we follow must be calm and considered. Jeremy Corbyn was given an overwhelming democratic mandate to lead by Party members and supporters. He brought many thousands of young people and grassroots activists into politics and into the Party, and we must engage with these new voices and try and heal the rifts between us.
I am concerned that an orchestrated campaign against our leader has been underway for some time and that this undermines our ability to move forward. I respect individuals’ right to make their position clear and I know how heartbreaking it has been for some of my colleagues in the PLP to resign their positions. There must now be a calm and orderly leadership contest. Jeremy is entitled to stand in order to vindicate the democratic mandate he was given. Others must also stand so that members can make a choice on the path forward for the Party and for Britain.
Some members of the EPLP met on June 29th to discuss the situation, with some agreeing on a statement that was sent to Jeremy, asking him reconsider his position. I was not a signatory to that statement.