High-profile supporters of former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn have called for members to remain in the party.
Former Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell and the leader of the union ‘Unite’, Len McCluskey, have told angry Corbyn supporters that “civil war” would not help the party, saying that they should stay and fight Corbyn’s suspension.
Jeremy Corbyn was suspended by the new Labour Leader, Sir Keir Starmer, following Corbyn’s reaction to the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s report into anti-Semitism within the party during his tenure. The report found that there was political interference in the handling anti-Semitism complaints, harassment of Jewish people in the Party and a failure to train the handlers of the complaints under Corbyn’s leadership.
Corbyn reacted to the report by saying: “The scale of the problem was also dramatically overstated for political reasons by our opponents inside and outside the party, as well as by much of the media.”
The Labour Party then released a statement suspending Corbyn: “In light of his comments made today and his failure to retract them subsequently, the Labour Party has suspended Jeremy Corbyn pending investigation.”
Unite leader Len McCluskey said last week:
“This is a sensitive time. I thought it was wrong, what happened, but now is the time for some calmness, so we can see if we can resolve this. Yesterday should have been about moving on from anti-Semitism and embracing what the EHRC said, which Keir did. And now unfortunately we have been knocked off the rails a bit by Jeremy’s suspension. I think it was unjust and hopefully, with discussions that take place, we can resolve it and move on.
“I am hoping that we will be able to resolve the matter and my message, really, to literally hundreds of thousands of our members who are already expressing their anger, is to stay in the party – we need the party to be united.”
On a Friday zoom call organised by Momentum, John McDonnell echoed McCluskey’s message, saying the decision “must be reversed” and the way to do that is to “stay in the Labour Party”.
In early October, Unite had decided to cut its Labour funding by about 10%, following Labour’s decision to compensate former staffers who appeared on a BBC Panorama documentary on anti-Semitism in the Labour Party. McCluskey opposed the decision, saying it was wrong “to pay out huge sums of money to individuals who were suing the Labour Party based on the Panorama programme, when Labour’s own legal people were saying that they would lose that case if it went to court. So we shouldn’t have paid them anything”.