30 October 2020 14:35
Labour anti-Semitism report: row over Jeremy Corbyn's suspension is not yet enough to lead to full civil war For all the shouted warnings about resistance within the party, the rebellion seems to be all mouth and no trousers The row over the Labour suspension of former leader Jeremy Corbyn is threatening the new-found peace in the party carefully constructed in the first months of Sir Keir Starmer's reign. Splits began to emerge on Thursday evening and into Friday as the left-wing faction of the party threw their backing behind Mr Corbyn, calling for him to have the party whip restored. The battle lines were drawn as Mr Corbyn's allies warned that the decision could cause a potential split across the party. The i politics newsletter cut through the noise Email address is invalid Email address is invalid Thank you for subscribing! Sorry, there was a problem with your subscription.
But, whilst some activists relinquished their Labour memberships and grassroots campaign body Momentum organised a pro-Corbyn rally, the backlash against the suspension remains largely muted. Allies fall in behind Corbyn Even those closest to Mr Corbyn – indeed, even Mr Corbyn himself – are pushing for a united approach to the crisis. Some members have announced their intention to leave the party in solidarity with suspended former leader Jeremy Corbyn. (Photo: PA) The head of the powerful Unite union – a significant financial backer of the party – said the decision to suspend Mr Corbyn was a "grave act of injustice" which could "create chaos" in the party. Len McCluskey said such a split could put any future chance of election success in jeopardy, adding: "A split party will be doomed to defeat." A handful of Mr Corbyn's high profile allies from his time as leader also jumped to his defence, with ex-shadow chancellor John McDonnell describing the suspension as "profoundly wrong" and former shadow home secretary Diane Abbott saying she opposed the decision. I urge all party members to stay calm as that is the best way to support Jeremy and each other. Let's all call upon the leadership to lift this suspension. — John McDonnell MP (@johnmcdonnellMP) October 29, 2020 Divided parties don't win elections. I oppose the decision to suspend Jeremy Corbyn from the Labour Party and will work for his reinstatement. For us the fight against antisemitism and all forms of racism is central to the struggle for better world. — Diane Abbott MP (@HackneyAbbott) October 29, 2020 Muted resistence Mr Corbyn also received support from a handful of the 2019 Labour take, with Bell Ribeiro-Addy, Zarah Sultana, Claudia Webbe and Nadia Whittome – all of whom won their seats under his regime – publicly backing him. But, even as hints of party divisions came thick and fast, many of Mr Corbyn's backers seemed to be more preoccupied with preserving peace in the party moving forward. I have been in touch with Jeremy Corbyn to offer my solidarity. I know Jeremy as someone who deeply cares for working class people and marginalised groups. I hope the situation can be swiftly resolved so that we can focus on implementing the recommendations the EHRC report. pic.twitter.com/bqHelNchjv — Nadia Whittome MP (@NadiaWhittomeMP) October 30, 2020 Solidarity to @jeremycorbyn, a kind, decent and truly principled man. He should be reinstated immediately. — Zarah Sultana MP (@zarahsultana) October 29, 2020 Even the former leader himself took a somewhat consolatory tone. Despite vowing to contest the decision in a statement, Mr Corbyn urged members to "stay" in the party to fight the Tories and resolve the issue "amicably". It seems that, in the face of a Tory majority in Government and the many pressing issues causing real concern for voters – the looming employment crisis and public health concerns – the party is more concerned with healing divisions efficiently and moving forward. Possibly in the wake of the its 2019 election defeat, a more self-reflective Labour has learnt it is not worth tearing itself apart for months on end and, in the process, gifting the Tories even longer in power. For all the shouted warnings about resistance within the party, the rebellion seems – at this stage – to be all mouth and no trousers.