The Labour Party National Executive Council’s (NEC) decided on March 28 to not endorse its former leader and current MP Jeremy Corbyn as a party candidate in the upcoming general elections. A motion pushed by Labour Party leader Keir Starmer was approved with the support of 22 against 12 at the NEC. Supporters of Corbyn within the party and in affiliated organizations and trade unions have strongly condemned the NEC’s decision and stated that such a move weakens the Labour Party’s fight against the Tory government and derails the British working class’s pursuit of social justice. Corbyn has served as the Labour MP for Islington North for the last 40 years.
Starmer had announced his plans to deny Corbyn a party ticket earlier in February. Starmer has been using accusations of anti-semitism made by mainstream pro-government media against Corbyn to sideline him and his supporters within the party, and to give the party a ‘business friendly’ face.
In October 2020, Corbyn was suspended from the party when he challenged the report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) on antisemitism inside the Labour Party during his tenure as leader. Even though the party decided to reinstate him after three weeks, Starmer never reinstated the party whip to Corbyn. Many in the party and outside believe that the accusations of antisemitism are a thin cover for pushing out anyone who is critical of Israel and supportive of the Palestinian struggle for liberation, or has any socialist leanings.
On March 28, in response to the NEC’s decision, Corbyn said on Twitter: “I have spent my life fighting for a fairer society on behalf of the people of Islington North, and I have no intention of stopping now.”
Corbyn stated that “the NEC’s decision to block my candidacy for Islington North is a shameful attack on party democracy, party members and natural justice. When I was leader of the Labour Party, I was determined to build a member-led movement that gave hope to a new generation. Today’s disgraceful move shows contempt for the millions of people who voted for our Party in 2017 and 2019, and will demotivate those who still believe in the importance of a transformative Labour government.”
“Now, more than ever, we should be offering a bold alternative to the government’s program of poverty, division and repression. Keir Starmer has instead launched an assault on the rights of his own Labour members, breaking his pledge to build a united and democratic Party that advances social, economic and climate justice,” he added.
Morning Star reported that representatives of trade unions including the Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen (ASLEF), Communication Workers Union (CWU), Fire Brigades Union (FBU), Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA), and Unite the Union voted against the ban on Corbyn in the Labour Party NEC .
On Tuesday, Nadia Whittome, a young MP from the Labour Party, said that “it should be up to local members in Islington North to decide who represents them. The motion to ban Jeremy Corbyn from restanding is divisive, an attack on party democracy and a distraction from the vital task of getting the Tories out. I hope it’s withdrawn or rejected.”