It seems the Labour Manifesto for the European Elections is set to be another attempt, even so late in the day, to sit on the fence. Is this the final evidence that for too many (by no means all) in Labour high command political purity is more important than the actual graft of day-to-day compromise to win elections?
There is a great deal could be said about the failure of some of the UK Labour Party leadership (Shadow Cabinet) to demand formal investigation of alleged illegalities or even to face up to the urgent challenges of Brexit.
But the most dire aspect of all is the failure by these same people to recognise the democratic deficit which has nurtured Brexit. We know for certain that there were serious wrong-doings on the part of the Leave campaign, yet still some MPs and some of the Labour leadership insist that we must ‘respect’ the deeply flawed EU Referendum of 2016 (more details of these flaws here and here). To accord respect in the face of such serious democratic deficits just isn’t possible.
Below is a generic version (now annotated) of the email I sent recently to several senior members of the Labour leadership, in time for them to receive it before the NEC (National Executive Committee) meeting to agree the anticipated European Elections Labour Manifesto today (30 April 2019):
….. It is of course startlingly obvious that very many of us, Labour Party members and supporters, are desperate for the Party’s European Election Manifesto to include an unequivocal commitment to a Public Vote on any UK proposed moves concerning Brexit – with a clear option to Remain and, critically too, a guaranteed commitment from Labour to campaign for that Remain option.
As you fully appreciate, it cannot be stressed enough how important this commitment – to a Public Vote, with an option to Remain for which Labour will wholeheartedly campaign – is for very many of us as loyal members. Already I have seen friends and relations quit the Party recently, despite years of membership, because they have lost hope in Labour and, especially, in some of its leadership.
Any Shadow Minister who talks about a ‘beneficial’ Leave position is deluding him / herself, and we all know it. It’s sad and degrading for the individual concerned (how can they pretend to such claims?), but also it makes many others of us upset and angry that anyone should think we, the voters, are so easily deceived.
There is no such thing as a ‘jobs first’ or ‘good’ Brexit, and those who propose otherwise must ask themselves to whose benefit they make such claims. Any Brexit beneficiaries are certainly not the decent and ‘hardworking’ people whose interests Labour must defend; and the Labour leadership knows this.
All that apart, there is however, also another matter which must not escape consideration: the fundamental issue of democracy itself.
You are probably aware that I am the author of Parliamentary Petition 241848 https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/241848, which demands a Halt to Brexit for a Public Inquiry into the EU Referendum. The text of the petition explains why this Inquiry is essential (before any further action on Brexit); but alarmingly the Cabinet Office ‘response’ at 10,000 (added below the text of the petition, on the same page) demonstrates even more clearly why we must all think more carefully about democracy itself.
The disregard for democracy and democratic process which that ‘response’ demonstrates – please do take time to read it – cannot possibly be ignored by anyone in Labour, let alone the Leadership. It is a basic Labour tenet that democracy is sacrosanct and that all elected politicians will endeavour in every way possible to uphold our democracy.
For that reason alone it is also self-evident that Labour simply must not go along with any of the Conservative Government’s Brexit proposals, which are mired in illegality, deception and self-interest.
In short, a properly conducted People’s Vote – and a thorough Public Inquiry into all that is already proven (criminally) wrong about the EU Referendum – is the only way forward for Labour. And also required with that new Vote is an unwavering commitment by Labour to campaign for Remain, the position so seriously blighted last time by the illegalities of the Leave proponents.
This unwavering commitment is what the vast majority of our members and supporters demand and it is what the Labour Party must promise unequivocally in its forthcoming manifesto.
Please do everything you can to ensure these messages are heard clearly and unequivocally as the Labour Manifesto is considered tomorrow. We both know that for the large majority of Labour members and supporters a solid commitment to a People’s Vote, with Remain an option which Labour will fully support, is critical for the future of our Party and, even more importantly, for the UK, our country.
PS You may like to know that I am collaborating with some others in taking forward our challenge to the Cabinet Office ‘response’ to Petition 241848. My petition now has over 100,000 signatories (in just five weeks) and is due to be ‘considered’ by Parliament. We intend that consideration to be a matter of some interest to as wide a range of people as possible.
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After word (later Tuesday 30 April 2019):
It’s reported that the Labour Manifesto now agreed is a watered down concession to those who are committed to Brexit. In my view this is unforgivable. But efforts to retain respect for the democratic process must continue. If you have not yet signed Petition 241848 please do so now:
and then write to (or visit) your MP to tell them you have signed, and that you expect them to attend to the matters addressed when the petition is considered by Parliament.