On February 15, Labour Party leader Keir Starmer banned long-time Parliament member and leftist Jeremy Corbyn from ever running again as a Labour Party candidate. Corbyn argued that Starmer’s move is an attack on democracy, stating, “it is up to [voters]—not party leaders—to decide who their candidate should be.”
In a speech announcing Corbyn’s ban from the party, Starmer said, “the Labour Party is unrecognizable from 2019 and it will never go back.” Starmer is referring to the year that Corbyn ran for Prime Minister as a Labour Party candidate. “If you don’t like that, if you don’t like the changes we’ve made, I say the door is open and you can leave,” Starmer told anyone who would be critical of the move.
“Any attempt to block my candidacy is a denial of due process, and should be opposed by anybody who believes in the value of democracy,” Corbyn responded in his statement.
Starmer justified his move by referencing accusations of antisemitism made against the Labour Party under Corbyn’s leadership. He praised a decision made by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), which had recently lifted Labour out of special measures it instituted in late 2020 after making accusations of antisemitism.
Following EHRC’s accusations, which Corbyn challenged, he was suspended from the Labour Party pending investigation. Starmer’s most recent ban on Corbyn is the most recent blow of the long campaign against him. Many believe that the accusations of antisemitism are a thin cover for pushing out anyone who is critical of Israel, supportive of the Palestinian struggle for liberation, or has any socialist leanings.
According to research by Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL), under Starmer’s leadership, Jewish members of the Labour Party are, on average, 37% more likely to be investigated for antisemitism than non-Jewish members.
The Labour Party also ejected three prominent Jewish members last year. “It is abhorrent for the Labour Party to effectively designate progressive or socialist Jewish political traditions as antisemitic, with the EHRC’s apparent stamp of approval,” wrote JVL in a statement.