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MORE than 70,000 people have backed a petition demanding the whip is restored to Jeremy Corbyn and to let Labour members decide who should represent them in the general election.
The petition by Labour Assembly Against Austerity (LAAA) and Arise, and supported by campaign groups and labour movement bodies, reads: “We support Jeremy Corbyn’s reinstatement into the Labour Party and call for the Parliamentary Labour Party whip to be restored.
“We also support the right of Islington North CLP [Constituency Labour Party] members to select their own candidate for the general election.”
The Islington North MP and former Labour leader had the party whip withdrawn after saying anti-semitism within Labour had been “overstated for political reasons” and was blocked from representing Labour in the next general election earlier this year by an unrelated motion to the NEC claiming he would undermine Labour’s chances of forming a government because he led it to defeat in 2019.
LAAA national organiser Matt Willgress criticised Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer for breaching a campaign promise that local party members should select their candidates for every election.
“Yet this is exactly what has been denied to members and affiliates in Islington North. Let the members decide,” he said.
“In recent months, hundreds of thousands of workers have taken industrial action against the Tory offensive on our jobs and livelihoods.
“Jeremy Corbyn has done what a Labour MP should be doing — standing with them on the picket lines, and yet again representing the interests of the people of Islington North as he has done tirelessly for 40 years.”
Young Labour activist and Arise volunteer Fraser McGuire said it is clear that many Labour members and supporters want to protect party democracy and allow Islington North CLP members to select their own candidate.
He said this would “undoubtedly” be Mr Corbyn.
Local Labour members overwhelmingly voted in favour of thanking Mr Corbyn for his commitment to the people of his constituency earlier this week.
Campaigners have welcomed the growing level of support for Mr Corbyn, with Labour national executive committee member Gemma Bolton saying it shows the “growing anger there is across our movement at the attacks on the right of local Labour parties to select their own parliamentary candidates.”
She said: “Supporters of democracy and members’ rights throughout our movement must raise our voices loudly and keep campaigning not only for Islington North to be able to select its own candidate, but for all CLPs to do so.”
Campaign for Labour Party Democracy co-chairwoman Rachel Garnham said it was unsurprising that tens of thousands feel “aggrieved by Starmer’s hypocrisy and top-down approach to candidate selection.”
She said: “Just a few years ago, Jeremy Corbyn inspired a mass movement against austerity, engaging thousands of people, especially young people, in the political process for the first time.
“The establishment is determined to prevent this threat to the status quo recurring and is desperate to drum Jeremy out of politics. It is good to see those who believe in a better future fighting back.”
Momentum co-chairwoman Kate Dove said the milestone “reflects the mass movement Jeremy’s leadership inspired.”
She said: “By attacking Jeremy and the democratic rights of party members in Islington North, Keir Starmer is undermining Labour’s campaigning strength, alienating our own activists and destroying the unity he once professed.”
An Islington Friends of Corbyn spokesperson said people are “angrier than ever about the continuing injustice” against Mr Corbyn and the constituency.
They said the signatories were fighting so that he can “do the job he was elected to do, unhindered by his own party,” and urged more people to sign.
Young Labour chairwoman Nabeela Mowlana said there is a “clear strength of feeling” that Islington CLP members should be allowed to choose their own representative, adding: “Democracy is core to the functioning of the Labour Party.”
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