The leader has refused Corbyn readmission to the parliamentary fold. Good.by Rachel Sylvester / November 18, 2020 / Leave a comment
Keir Starmer wasted no time in declaring that Jeremy Corbyn would not have the Labour whip restored today—ensuring the announcement was made before he could be goaded on the issue of antisemitism by Boris Johnson at Prime Minister’s Questions. The Labour leader was quick and decisive in refusing to let his predecessor back into the parliamentary fold even though the party’s ruling body had ended Corbyn’s suspension from party membership. He was also right.
This is not just a question of process, although the disciplinary procedures are still caught up in the toxic politics of the Labour Party. It is also one of morality. Starmer has promised that Labour is under “A New Leadership” and his handling of antisemitism needs to demonstrate a change in values as well as style. He struck the right tone when he described the publication of the Equality and Human Rights Commission report—which found that Labour had overseen “unlawful” harassment and discrimination during Corbyn’s years in charge—as a “day of shame.” The party that is supposed to champion fairness allowed a form of prejudice that had been pushed to the fringes of society back into the mainstream of politics, with appalling consequences. Jewish MPs were effectively bullied out and Jewish voters left feeling genuinely frightened at the last general election about the prospect of a Labour government.
Yet Corbyn claimed the issue had been “dramatically overstated for political reasons by our opponents inside and outside the party.” This week the former leader suggested he had not wanted to “belittle concerns” about antisemitism and insisted he regretted “the pain this issue has caused the Jewish community.” But he did not apologise or accept any real responsibility for the prejudice that had been allowed to flourish on his watch. The Jewish Labour Movement described Corbyn’s statement as “insincere and totally inadequate” and warned that the decision to allow him back into the party would “embolden” those who agree with his “grossly offensive” remarks 19 days ago.
Starmer said Corbyn’s response “set back our work in restoring trust and confidence in the Labour Party’s ability to tackle antisemitism,” and that the disciplinary process “does not have the confidence of the Jewish community.” This is not surprising when the decision to lift the suspension was made by a panel of the party’s own ruling National…