Last week Solidarity published an open letter to Jeremy Corbyn from Sacha Ismail, an organiser of the new Labour stop-Brexit campaign Labour for a Socialist Europe.
The conclusion of that letter becomes even more urgent after the parliamentary vote on 15 January. We say again to Corbyn:
Now you should campaign boldly for a “People’s Vote”, and advocate a vote against Brexit.
The argument that a second referendum would be undemocratic and — if the vote went against Brexit — would amount to cheating the victors of the 2016 referendum out of their democratic victory, actually makes no sense, if you think about it.
Why should the 2016 referendum bind people two and a half years later, if further experience and reason point to the need to reverse it? In fact serious, detailed, public discussion of what Brexit means came only after that referendum.
The opponents of a second referendum are not consistent democrats, but people who snatched an accidental advantage in 2016 and want politics to end at that point.
If a referendum is as sacred a form of democracy as they insist, then why not have another one to pronounce on the results, in negotiated actuality, of the first? History did not stop in June 2016.
The argument that a new referendum that reversed 2016 would be “divisive” is a no brainer.
The 2016 vote is divisive. Carrying through the decision of 2016 without letting the people vote again, in full knowledge of what they will be voting for or against — that is the worst of all worlds.
Labour should campaign for a second referendum and a Remain vote. Comrade Corbyn — serious politics is not just about skimming the surface of existing opinion, taking polls to tell you what to say to get votes. It is about doing serious educational work to mould and shape and reshape how people think about an issue.
Principles matter here. Here, however — and it needs to be said — you and your Leader’s Office have something akin to the difficulty you had in condemning antisemitism in general and destroy-Israel antisemitism in particular.
Your own political history. For decades it was an article of faith on the ostensible left — almost all the left, from the kitsch-Leninist groups through to people like you in the Labour left — to be against the EU and to advocate British withdrawal.
That shifted bit by bit over the 1990s. But reflex anti-EU sentiment is still there. It is strident, for instance, in the Morning Star, for which you wrote a column until you were elected Labour leader. In fact, you see it most clearly there.
The kitsch-left attitude of opposing the bourgeois unification of Europe, rather than seeking to reshape it, was always nonsense. Britain’s decision to withdraw is a tragic nonsense. It is still possible for the now better-informed citizenry to avert it. Labour can still avert it.
Drop your ambivalence about Brexit, and campaign for a People’s Vote and for Remain vote in a new referendum. Fight for working-class unity all across Europe. Time is very short now.
Full open letter: bit.ly/jc-ol.