John Connolly

Keir Starmer has declared war on the left of the party

Keir Starmer has declared war on the left of the party
Jeremy Corbyn (photo: Getty)
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Jeremy Corbyn, the former leader of Labour, has been suspended from his own party and had the whip removed. The move to oust him was taken by the party after Corbyn commented on a report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, published today, into anti-Semitism in the Labour party.

Earlier today Corbyn released a statement in response to the report, claiming that he rejected some of its findings and arguing that the scale of Labour's anti-Semitism problem had been 'dramatically overstated' for political reasons – which he also blamed on the media. 

In response, the Labour party acted to remove Corbyn from the party, while it investigates his comments. In a statement, a spokesperson from the Labour party said:

'In light of his comments made today and his failure to retract them subsequently, the Labour Party has suspended Jeremy Corbyn pending investigation. He has also had the whip removed from the Parliamentary Labour Party.'

In turn, Jeremy Corbyn has described his suspension as a 'political intervention' and promised to strongly contest his removal from the party.

The EHRC report found the party breached the Equality Act in three areas in its handling of anti-Semitism complaints, and said there had been 'political interference' in the complaints process. In several of these cases, the report found, the Leader's Office had sought to influence the process. Although the EHRC report did not specifically blame the former Labour leader for the party's failings, following the report's release, the lead EHRC board investigator, Alasdair Henderson, commented that Corbyn had 'responsibility ultimately'.

There had been growing pressure on Keir Starmer to act on the report and to remove the whip from Corbyn. Earlier this year Starmer had pledged to implement all of the report's recommendations when it was published. As Katy reports, Starmer had indicated that he would not take action against Corbyn, but said that he had not yet read his latest statement.  

By acting now, Keir Starmer has effectively declared war on the left-wing of his party. Already former Chancellor John McDonnell has called on the party leadership to reconsider the suspension. But a war is exactly what the Labour leader appears to want. When he was elected Labour leader, Keir Starmer sought to distinguish himself from his predecessor and point out that the Labour party was under new management. Deposing Corbyn is the clearest signal Starmer could give to the electorate that things have changed in his party. 

At the beginning of the day, the Labour leader argued that when it comes to anti-Semitism, 'those who deny there's a problem are part of the problem'. It appears that the Labour party has finally decided that Jeremy Corbyn is part of the problem.

Written byJohn Connolly

John Connolly is News Editor of The Spectator

Topics in this articlePolitics