SIR KEIR STARMER’S decision to ignore his own party’s disciplinary process and withhold the Labour whip from Jeremy Corbyn is brazen hypocrisy.
If there is still anyone on the left who thinks that some compromise position can be negotiated in good faith, they need to wake up now.
Concessions can be forced from the right — but forced is the operative word, and the left needs urgently to marshal its considerable strength in the Labour Party and wider movement in Corbyn’s defence.
Starmer’s attempt to excuse his behaviour with references to the supposed feelings of “the Jewish community” should not go unchallenged: he has consistently ignored the many Jewish voices raised in solidarity with Corbyn and failed to acknowledge the concerns of Jewish members of Corbyn’s own constituency party.
His is a political intervention, when this is explicitly condemned in the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) report on Labour’s handling of anti-semitism.
But this has always been political, and the anti-Corbyn brigade have consistently intervened politically in alleged anti-semitism cases.
Was the troop of white MPs who marched on the hearing of black rights activist Marc Wadsworth — whose 2016 remark that an individual MP was “working hand in hand” with the Daily Telegraph was ludicrously spun into an anti-semitic trope about Jewish influence over the media — not a political intervention?
What about the revolt by MPs after a disciplinary panel restored the whip to Chris Williamson in June 2019, resulting in his resuspension two days later?
So pointing to Starmer’s flouting of EHRC recommendations won’t cut it. The actual content of these reports is a matter of indifference to the right.
That is why so many of the same commentators who slammed Shami Chakrabarti’s 2016 probe as a whitewash claim total agreement with their version of the EHRC report, which praises Chakrabarti’s.
A coherent fightback requires an understanding of why this is happening.
For five years the cosy oligarchy that runs our rigged political and economic system felt threatened: one of the two main parties of government stood for actual redistribution of wealth and power.
It attracted a very large and active membership — itself a threat to politics as usual — and its programme forced long-suppressed questions about the ownership and control of our economy onto the agenda.
That terrified the Establishment within Labour as well as outside it.
As the Labour leadership contest — which Starmer had to affect left-wing principles in order to win — and the recent elections to Labour’s national executive showed, that movement continues to command wide support.
It raises questions millions are asking. Britain’s political consensus is broken. Its political class has seldom been held in such universal contempt. People recognise that the system is unjust, unsustainable and irredeemably corrupt.
So perhaps the most insightful “political intervention” today was from a former MP. David Drew, who represented Stroud until last year, tweeted that “the PLP is not fit for purpose. It is totally undemocratic and unrepresentative of the wider labour movement.”
The parliamentary party played a key role in sabotaging the Corbyn movement. Today’s events show it remains the wing of the party most hostile to the left and where our influence is weakest.
It is the left’s task to ensure the movement for democratic and socialist renewal holds together and continues to organise for its demands while putting pressure on MPs and Labour authorities and decision-making bodies at every level to fight back.
That means, first of all, unity against the disgusting and dishonest attempts to turn Corbyn into a bogeyman and silence his supporters, including by continuing to treat him as a leading figure in our movement on union, party and public platforms.
The trade union and labour movement must make it clear that “Corbynism” was not an aberration and is not going away. Britain needs socialism, and socialists can see through these cynical attacks.
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