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LABOUR “does not belong to one man but to its members,” campaigners declared today after Sir Keir Starmer vowed Jeremy Corbyn would never again be a Labour MP and told critics of his leadership to quit the party.
The increasingly right-wing Labour leader, who expelled his predecessor from the parliamentary party in 2020, claimed the party he took over nearly three years ago is “unrecognisable and we are not going back.”
In a speech in east London, Sir Keir hailed a decision by watchdog the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) to lift Labour out of two years of special measures over its “past failings” on anti-semitism.
But Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL) slammed the “alarming news,” stressing: “Jews like us do not feel safe in Keir Starmer’s Labour Party.”
The socialist group said its research shows that Jews have been “at least 37 times more likely to be investigated for anti-semitism than an average Labour Party member” since the former shadow Brexit secretary took the reins in April 2020.
Sir Keir, who previously only hinted that Mr Corbyn would continue to be forced to sit as an independent MP, said: “Let me be very clear, Jeremy Corbyn will not stand at the next general election as a Labour Party candidate.
“The party is unrecognisable from 2019 and it will never go back.
“If you don’t like that, if you don’t like the changes we’ve made, I say the door is open and you can leave.”
Grassroots group Momentum hit back in defence of the Islington North MP and the party’s left, saying in a statement: “Labour is a democratic socialist party – it’s written on our membership cards.
“This party does not belong to one man alone, it belongs to its members and trade unions.
“It should be for Labour members in Islington North to decide their candidate – that is their democratic right.”
JVL, a key supporter of Mr Corbyn’s leadership, said it had informed the EHRC about the “relentless campaign against it.”
But the equalities watchdog, which had been monitoring Labour since ruling in 2020 that it was responsible for “unlawful acts of harassment and discrimination” during the previous five years under Mr Corbyn, judged that Labour has now improved its complaints and training procedures to protect members.
Mr Corbyn, who won the party its largest vote share increase since 1945 at the 2017 general election, was suspended from the parliamentary party over his response to EHRC’s report and has since sat as an independent MP.
If the unashamed socialist decides to run against Labour at the next poll, due next year, the party would come up against his sky high popularity in his London seat, which the 73-year-old has represented for 40 years.
JVL, formed in 2017 to represent left-wing Jews in Labour, stressed it is “currently aware of 60 Jewish members being targeted” by the party, which expelled three prominent Jewish members – including newly elected national executive committee member Naomi Wimborne Idrissi – last year.
In a statement, the group said: “Jewish members investigated or sanctioned over anti-semitism find the experience profoundly oppressive.
“Indeed, it feels much like anti-semitism itself – we feel hated.”
Most Jewish members accused of anti-Jewish hatred are targeted after criticising the political ideology of zionism or the state of Israel, but Jews “have long disagreed with each other” on this topic, thr group stressed.
“It is abhorrent for the Labour Party to effectively designate progressive or socialist Jewish political traditions as anti-semitic, with the EHRC’s apparent stamp of approval,” the group charged.
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