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Dear Labour MPs

Paul Mason26 June 2016

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Were living through a massive and complex historic moment. Brexit signals, at the very least, the high watermark of globalisation. I didn't vote for it and I don't relish dealing with it.

But this is not Labour's defeat. We did not call the referendum; even those of you who chose to take part in the government-led campaign were not its leaders. This is the Tories' catastrophe.

The exit polling shows Labour persuaded 2/3 of its supporters to vote Remain. I think that is an achievement. And in part it is an achievement for Corbyn and Mcdonnell. Without the "remain and reform" demand I think even more of our own people would have voted out.

The Tories are in turmoil. There is a swing of former No voters in Scotland towards independence. The constitutional crisis means PLP members will be required to act as parliamentarians first, party members second in the next days.

Our party activists on the ground need to be getting ready for a general election; reassuring migrant communities; facing down the wave of racism that's been triggered. The party conference needs to be re-engineered so we can discuss Labour policy for the post-EU situation.

This is not the time to spend two months re-running last year's leadership election.

Our strategic problem is to reconnect not only with the Labour core voters who backed Brexit but with those who have drifted to UKIP.

I don't know whether the present leadership can do that; I do know all the previous leaderships failed to do it. We need to work out a plan and try.

Maybe in challenging Corbyn some of you are really preparing to split the Labour movement and form some new centrist party with Vince Cable and co? Say it openly then and get on with it. You will guarantee Tory rule for a decade but it's your right.

But if so, please stop trying to sabotage this party - a historic creation of the British working class, and the only resilient institution for social justice and democracy we have.

Is Corbyn the ideal leader? It's impossible to tell what an ideal leader is. For the historic period that's opened up, with populist politics and nationalist rhetoric corroding the power of reason - I really don't know what kind of leadership we will need. He'll be tested, for sure, and in any case we have to find a new generation prepared to redefine Labour politics for an era of uncertainty.

But one thing I do know: Corbyn is incapable of lying to the British people; he is immured to elite politics; he didn't spend his entire life in a Machievellean project to gain power and an invite to Oleg Deripaska's yacht.

That's why I voted for him and will do so again if you trigger a leadership vote.

I disagree with Corbyn on Trident, on Syria and I would have liked him to demand stronger reforms from Europe. I disagreed with Miliband on a lot more - but I respected him as a politician of principle and the elected leader.

In your minds I suspect some of you crave the emergence of a less slick, more plebeian Blair. Somebody to fight populism with populism. The referendum was won by clowns: Johnson and Farage. If we in Labour want to summon up our own populist clown let's think hard before doing so.

We need a careful process of analysis and rebuilding, based on evidence not hysteria.

As I write some shadow cabinet members are resigning, claiming Corbyn is ineffective. Yet he delivered what Cameron could not - 2/3 of his voters, against the combined might of Fleet St.

They are saying we can't win an election with Corbyn. We're on 32% - neck and neck with the Tories.

I'm certain we cannot win with yet another establishment technocrat. If a single member of the right of Labour had an analysis of what went wrong that goes beyond"we don't like Corbyn's style" I'd listen. It's not there.

Corbyn needs to form a new shadow cabinet of people who actually want to represent the workers, youth and minorities of this country and understand the first principle of our movement - stick together.

Filed under: brexit, labour