April 18, 2017


An Open Letter to Jeremy Corbyn MP, Leader of the Labour Party

Dear Mr Corbyn

You are the leader of the Labour Party, which has been the United Kingdom’s cherished home of the centre-left for over a century, creating and defending our Post War Social Compact and Welfare State. I am proud to be a member of the Labour Party. It is my political home.  

However, in all honesty, I have not supported your leadership. But Leader of the Labour Party and Her Majesty’s Opposition you are for now – and it is in that capacity that I write to you.

The General Election called by the Prime Minister is unlike any other in our lifetime. It is about Country Before Party. 

The campaign is only now starting, but the one thing we can be sure of is that our United Kingdom will not continue in its current state afterwards. Will Scotland secede? Will Northern Ireland pursue separate arrangements with the Republic of Ireland to protect the The Good Friday Agreement?  Will the remaining rump of our Union pursue a hard or soft Brexit, or more optimistically, step back from the brink?

You have rightly argued that the concerns of many traditional Labour supporters who voted for Brexit in the referendum must be respected. I fully agree, and the most important service you can do for them is to shine light on how heinously they were lied to: Brexit can never provide the improved prosperity and security they seek. In this increasingly connected global community – prosperity and security can only be achieved through partnership and collaboration - specifically with our neighbours with whom we share so many values and history.

So I urge you to embrace the unique historical challenge of this General Election.  Specifically, I urge you to:

  • Fight for our continued membership of the EU and commit reformed and strengthen it.

  • Argue passionately that the social protections you rightly promote can only be secured if we are part of the collective family of European nations – and argue equally passionately, that they are at unprecedented risk if we go it alone.

If you are not able to do this, I urge you to resign and let Labour choose a leader who will speak truth to power.

If you are not willing to do this, I urge you – at the very least – not to prohibit your MPs from defending and promoting our place in Europe.  Do not demand absolute loyalty to you, a loyalty you were unable to provide generations of Labour leaders in your decades as a protest MP.

Labour is at risk of performing as dismally as it did in the early eighties. Yet, as in the eighties, it is also a time when the unique genius of Labour as a broad church of centre-left thinking is more needed than ever.

Furthermore, I am encouraged that many of Labour’s natural supporters refuse to make the same mistakes that allowed Thatcherism to devastate our country, unopposed.   Given the stark choices we face, we are looking outwards, not inwards. We are part of a groundswell seeking collaboration with with those Tories, Liberal Democrats and others who understand that this is the fight of our generation –  that Country Comes Before Party for our collective future wellbeing and that of our children’s – and that we best serve that future by tactically voting for the candidate most likely to support Britain’s place in Europe.

I invite you – as others will undoubtedly invite their leaders – to join us, but also to assure you that you will not stop us.

Leadership is about making hard choices, and taking tough decisions.  Yes, you are in an incredibly tough spot – that is leadership’s price. You have the responsibility and opportunity to do the right thing. Do not let this pass.

Yours sincerely

Ben Plumley