Labour’s leaders have threatened to purge “thousands and thousands” of their own members from the party in a campaign to smash the left.
Deputy leader Angela Rayner told a conference of pro-Israel organisations that she and leader Keir Starmer were working to stamp out solidarity with Jeremy Corbyn. “If I have to suspend thousands and thousands of members, we will do that,” she said.
Increasing numbers of Labour members are already being suspended for passing motions in support of Corbyn at their local meetings.
Party general secretary David Evans—backed by Starmer—has banned members from even discussing Corbyn’s suspension as a Labour MP.
Several elected officials of Constituency Labour Parties (CLPs) have already been suspended.
They include NEU union officer Louise Regan—suspended within hours of allowing a motion to be discussed as chair of Nottingham East CLP last Friday.
The right want Corbyn to agree that his left wing politics—and in particular his support for Palestinians—is to blame for antisemitism.
He has been suspended as a Labour MP for correctly saying the scale of antisemitism inside the party has been exaggerated for political reasons. Starmer is demanding that he apologises before he will be allowed to sit as a Labour MP again.
Rayner was speaking at a conference of the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM), which sees support for Israel as central to its work. It was hosted in partnership with Labour Friends of Israel.
Starmer told the same conference that right wing MPs who quit the party in a bid to sabotage Corbyn’s leadership would be welcomed back.
The right’s assault lays down a challenge to left wing MPs who say they support Corbyn. MPs including John McDonnell, Diane Abbott and Richard Burgon spoke at an online meeting in support of Corbyn last Saturday evening.
Some trade union leaders have also hit out at Starmer.
Yet so far those MPs and union leaders have encouraged Corbyn to accept the findings of the EHRC report, and to make apologies.
They have encouraged Corbyn to deal with the attacks on him through legal challenges—not to take them on politically. And they refuse to rebel against Starmer’s leadership, instead pleading with him for “unity”.
Yet the right clearly aren’t interested in unity.
As a token of unity with the right, left group Momentum chose to back Rayner over Burgon to be elected deputy leader earlier this year.
She has now turned on them—and Labour members are paying the price.
Left Labour MPs and Momentum have pledged support for suspended Labour members. The least they could do is drop the calls for “unity,” resign the Labour whip in parliament—and rebel against Starmer.
Stand with Palestine
At the heart of the attack on the left is an attack on solidarity with the Palestinian people.
The right want to smear the left by claiming criticism of Israel is motivated by antisemitism.
They want to link support for Israel with Jewish identity—despite the fact that many Jews stand in solidarity with Palestinians.
The latest round of assaults came at the start of the international week of solidarity with Palestine.
The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) held an online day of action last Saturday.
PSC director Ben Jamal spoke at an online rally the evening before.
He said the attacks on the Labour left were linked to a bigger attempt to discredit opposition to Israel.
The attacks—and the retreats of left MPs—show it is increasingly impossible for left wing activists to do that inside Labour. The best place to fight for Palestine is outside.