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Corbyn stands for peace and socialism

PEACE and socialism will be on the ballot paper in Islington North as Jeremy Corbyn confirmed today that he will stand in the general election.

Mr Corbyn will contest the constituency he has represented since 1983 as an independent candidate on a platform resonant with the popular policies he championed as Labour leader.

Sir Keir Starmer’s leadership has barred him from standing as a Labour candidate and excluded him from the party altogether in the light of his announcement.

It also moved to impose private health entrepreneur Praful Nargund on a deeply split local party as Labour’s candidate, terminating even the limited selection procedure it had put in place.

This latest affront to democracy will doubtless deepen Mr Corbyn’s already-powerful backing in the local party, which had voted to keep him as a candidate, and make Labour’s drive to unseat him harder still.

That is further impeded by Mr Nargund’s strategy to date of saying nothing in public and ignoring local newspaper questions.

In his announcement, Mr Corbyn, whose enormous local popularity is acknowledged even by his opponents and who won a majority of more than 26,000 in 2019, said: “Local Labour Party members in Islington North have been prevented from choosing their own candidate, which has disempowered everyone in the community.

“I am appalled at the way local people have been treated. We have to stand up and defend our rights.

“That is why I am standing to be an independent candidate for the people of Islington North.

“I hope people who have always supported Labour will understand why I have taken this decision.

“I am here to represent the people of Islington North on exactly the same principles that I’ve stood by my whole life: social justice, human rights and peace.”

He also outlined his pitch, and it is a mile away from the bland programme and minimal policies of Sir Keir’s Labour.

Mr Corbyn told his voters: “One, for a more equal society. We must scrap the two-child benefits cap, and introduce a wealth tax to fund decent pay rises for all, and rebuild our crumbling public services.

“Two, for housing justice. We need rent controls, a massive council-house-building programme, and urgent leasehold reform.

“Three, I will be a local voice for a global Green New Deal that puts people before profit. Stop bailing out failing companies and bring water and energy into public ownership.

“Four, for a fully public, fully funded NHS. Austerity and privatisation are the causes, not the solution, to the crisis in our NHS. I will never take donations from private healthcare.

“And finally, we will campaign for an alternative to endless war. I will continue to defend human rights for everybody and speak up for a world of peace.”

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch offered union backing following the long-anticipated declaration.

“We are supporting Jeremy Corbyn because his track record of supporting RMT members, being a friend of our union and having strong traditional Labour values is second to none,” he said.

The bakers’ union also retweeted support for Corbyn.

Fellow socialist independent candidate Leanne Mohammed, who will contest Ilford North, said: “We need to break free from this two-party nightmare.

“Jeremy is not only a principled politician who has fought for justice for Palestinians, but he also continues to fight for a free NHS, affordable housing, against the demonisation of foreigners, and an equitable economic system. “

Labour MPs and affiliated unions would risk exclusion from the party if they indicated any support for Mr Corbyn, but there is no doubt that many are quietly cheering him on.

Momentum chairwoman Kate Dove pointed out that “this is an almighty mess for Labour and Keir Starmer alone bears responsibility.”

She said that the Labour leader’s “attacks on Jeremy were never just about one man — they were about driving out the socialist politics he represented, in favour of elite interests.”

Ms Dove said: “Jeremy Corbyn has loyally served the people of Islington North as their Labour MP for over 40 years.

“He wanted to run again as the Labour candidate and the local party backed him too. But Starmer and his Westminster clique again denied local people the chance to choose their own candidate and blocked Jeremy.

“Starmer has treated the people of Islington with contempt, setting the stage for a divisive and distracting election campaign.

“We will not allow Labour’s founding socialist values to be driven out of the party.

“Momentum will continue to stand up for real Labour values within the party, while campaigning for socialist and trade unionist Labour candidates in the coming election.”

The campaign group also urged Sir Keir not to repeat the blunder by blocking Diane Abbott from standing in Hackney North, where members have voted unanimously to have the whipless MP as their candidate.

Sir Keir said today that the purportedly independent investigation would conclude its 13-month probe into Ms Abbott next week, notionally opening up the possibility that she could stand for the party.

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