In suspending Jeremy Corbyn, Keir Starmer has shown necessary brutalityby Rachel Sylvester / October 29, 2020 / Leave a comment
Sometimes leaders have to define themselves by their brutality. That is exactly what Keir Starmer has done today, with his ruthless suspension of Jeremy Corbyn from the Labour Party in the wake of the new report into his handling of the anti-semitism scandal when leader.
Starmer has proved once and for all that Labour is under “A New Leadership”—the slogan on his recent conference speech podium. And it came over a deeply symbolic issue on what he himself described as “a day of shame” for the party. Starmer has demonstrated his commitment to the future by making a definitive and merciless break with the moral disgrace of the past.
The rise of anti-semitism under Corbyn—that saw Jewish MPs effectively bullied out of the party—was one of the most appalling spectacles in politics in recent years. I will never forget interviewing Luciana Berger for the Times in March last year, shortly after she left Labour to join The Independent Group following fierce attempts to deselect her as an MP. It was the most shocking interview I have ever conducted—heavily pregnant, she described a toxic political culture in the Labour Party including appalling anti-semitic abuse and death threats, much of it from Corbyn’s supporters on the hard left. She had even had what she described as “a threat to my unborn child” from a former Labour Party member. There had, though, been no true support from the leadership and she had not met Corbyn formally for over a year.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission found that Labour had overseen “unlawful” harassment and discrimination during Corbyn’s years in charge. Corbyn weakly voiced “regret” that it took too long to get a grip on the problem, adding: “Jewish members of our party and the wider community were right to expect us to deal with it.” Yet just as when he was leader, he couldn’t help playing the victim, claiming the issue had been “dramatically overstated for political reasons by our opponents inside and outside the party, as well as by much of the media.” Even now he is too blinded by his own self-righteousness to truly accept blame for mistakes that were made. His refusal to retract was the final straw.
The independent investigation found evidence of 23 instances of “inappropriate involvement” in the complaints process by…