Leftist and progressive sections across the UK expressed shock and outrage at the expulsion of veteran socialist and filmmaker Ken Loach from the Labour Party. On Saturday, August 14, Loach tweeted about his expulsion from the party. Left-wing sections denounced the Labour leadership’s decision to expel socialists like Loach. Thousands, including MP Jeremy Corbyn, extended support and solidarity to Loach.
According to reports, Loach’s expulsion is part of an ongoing internal purge of leftists from within the Labour Party under the leadership of Keir Starmer. Along with several others, Loach had protested this purge and supported the leftists and progressives expelled from the party.
Loach, director of many popular movies on various social issues, joined the Labour Party in the 1960s. This streak of association continued till the 1990s, when Loach opted to cooperate with radical left-wing political platforms. Later, Loach supported Corbyn’s bid for Labour Party leadership in 2015 and actively supported the policies pursued by the party under his leadership. Loach has been an avid supporter of the Palestine cause and has backed the Palestine Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI).
After facing setbacks in the 2019 general elections, Corbyn stepped down from the Labour Party leadership. The right-wing section within the party tightened its grip after Keir Starmer became the Labour leader in April 2020. The policies pursued by Starmer intend to take the party more towards the right. Corbyn was one of the first victims of this right-ward shift after he was suspended from the party in October 2020. He was suspended after he challenged the report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) on anti-Semitism in the Labour Party during his tenure as leader. The suspension deepened existing divides within the party between the left-leaning, pro-Corbyn sections and the more conservative sections.
Following this, the party initiated an all-out purge of the leftists and supporters of Corbyn within the party. Last month, the Labor National Executive decided to prohibit its members from associating with leftist support groups of the Labour Party including the Socialist Appeal, Resist, Labour Against the Witchhunt, and Labour in Exile Network. Progressives, leftists and trade unions have protested this ongoing purge and warned of the dire consequences of such self-humiliating policies from the Labour leadership.
On Saturday, Ken Loach tweeted that “Labour HQ finally decided I’m not fit to be a member of their party, as I will not disown those already expelled.”
“I am proud to stand with the good friends and comrades victimized by the purge. There is indeed a witch hunt. Starmer and his clique will never lead a party of the people. We are many, they are few,” he added.
Extending solidarity to Loach, Corbyn tweeted, “Ken Loach has made outstanding films from Cathy Come Home to I Daniel Blake, directed brilliant broadcasts for Labour, and has always stood with the oppressed. He deserves our respect and solidarity.”
Labour Against the Witchhunt, one among the four leftist groups shunned by the party leadership, extended solidarity with Loach and all those unjustly expelled and suspended. The group stated that “Ken was expelled, because as patron of Labour Against the Witchhunt, he dared to stand shoulder to shoulder with those who were smeared by the right.”