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Labour, If There Was Ever a Time for New Leadership, It's Now

28/06/2016 10:47 | Updated 28 June 2016

After months of brutal campaigning, the UK has voted for Brexit, with almost 52% voting to leave. I'm all for democracy, and of course we must accept the decision of the people and implement it in the coming months and years.

Still, everyone will walk away from this referendum with frustrations. I live in Edinburgh, where since the Scottish Independence referendum of 2014, Scottish Labour have been all but decimated by the populist Scottish National Party. Without a radical change in approach and direction the same thing will happen in Westminster, and members can simply not afford to sit back and watch the Party self-destruct.

Labour, the Party I love, deserve a significant proportion of the blame for this result. They failed to make the positive case for Europe. They failed to address the issue of immigration to voters without either buying into the racist rhetoric, or simply dismissing the issue. And when we looked to the media for a strong Labour voice there was silence.

I've seen Nigel Farage in the papers and on TV every day during the campaign, and Jeremy Corbyn a mere handful of times. Farage is the leader of a party with just one MP in the House of Commons, while Corbyn is the Leader of the Opposition, a powerful platform for lobbying against the government's rashest decisions and most dangerous policies. It is ludicrous. But the right-wing press gave an unreasonable platform to Farage, I hear you cry - yet the few times Corbyn did appear he was so lacklustre, as if he was being forced to toe the party line, rather than setting it.

As you may have guessed by now, I didn't vote for Jeremy Corbyn in the leadership election, but I was satisfied to accept that he was elected with a huge mandate. He brought many young people into politics, and stimulated a dramatic increase in party membership by promising 'a new kind of politics'. Initially I welcomed this, and defended him to New Labour friends and critics. Along with the rest of the country I cringed as factions divided the party and MPs attacked one another on Twitter, forcing myself to think 'he was elected by party members, let's give him a chance at least.'

And it's not all doom and gloom, despite losing council seats overall in the May elections, and the aforementioned Scottish wipe-out, there have been some highlights. Kezia Dugdale is doing astonishing work in Scotland to rebuild what has been lost, and we elected Sadiq Khan as Mayor of London. But these successes were I believe a testament to those individuals, and not to the leadership or to the party as a whole.

Today, Corbyn's initial mandate of 200,000 votes has been completely and utterly undermined. The EU referendum debacle is all the proof we need that Corbyn's elite London left Labour is a million miles away from the electorate. Take the North East as the prime example. The phrase 'traditional Labour heartlands' was still used by the BBC today, but in reality those areas stopped looking to us for leadership long ago, and voted most emphatically to leave. Far from a new kind of politics, we are becoming a party that dismisses concerns instead of addressing them.

The Prime Minister has just announced that he will step down by October, and the UK has voted to leave the EU. As a nation we are marching into the unknown with little confidence in the Government and we need a strong opposition now more than ever.

Like many of the 74% of under 25s who voted remain, I'm craving the best things about politics: to be inspired and reassured that things will get better. Under the current leadership I have little hope of finding those things in Labour, so it is vital that the MPs see the vote of no-confidence as an opportunity for the party to find its feet again, a real alternative to a government run without their electorate's best interests at heart.

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