By Nick Clark
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Starmer ramps up his war on beleaguered Labour left

This article is over 3 years, 7 months old
Issue 2731
 Jeremy Corbyn draws big crowds at a rally in Bristol last year. Party bureaucrats suspended members in the city for demanding his reinstatement
Jeremy Corbyn draws big crowds at a rally in Bristol last year. Party bureaucrats suspended members in the city for demanding his reinstatement (Pic: Jeremy Corbyn on Twitter )

The Labour Party upped its crackdown on its own activists last week, suspending leading members in Bristol for supporting former leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Party bosses suspended Bristol West Constituency Labour Party (CLP) chair Hannah Little and secretary Paul Tasman. They acted just hours after members of the CLP passed a motion ­demanding Corbyn’s ­reinstatement.

Party members are banned from supporting Corbyn—or even discussing his suspension—by order of Labour ­general secretary David Evans.

Little and Tasman were suspended for defying this order and organising a ­meeting to vote on the motion last Friday. The motion said Corbyn’s suspension was a “politically motivated attack against the left of the Labour Party by the leadership.”

Labour leader Keir Starmer and his allies in the party machine launched an assault on left wing members under the guise of cracking down on antisemitism.

An Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) report published last month said the party had committed unlawful acts in its handling of antisemitism allegations. 

It was the culmination of years of attempts to discredit Corbyn’s leadership by claiming the left’s opposition to Israel was based on hatred of Jews.

Corbyn responded by saying he did not accept all of the report’s findings. He also said—factually—that the scale of antisemitism inside the party had been “overstated for political reasons”.

He was suspended that day.


The right use the EHRC report as proof that Corbyn’s leadership—and his support for Palestinians against Israel—was antisemitic. The Labour left’s response has focussed on claiming the report shows antisemitism existed as a problem before Corbyn’s leadership. 

They also say it allows people to “question the scale of antisemitism in the party”. Yet this is only allowed “based on their own ­experience”—meaning people cannot challenge the overall accusation politically.

Accepting the report also means accepting its claim that “illegitimate” criticism of Israel is antisemitic.

Activists speak out—the left’s hope lies outside Labour
Activists speak out—the left’s hope lies outside Labour
  Read More

Some leading figures—such as MP John McDonnell—want the left to go further and apologise to the right. 

Momentum founder Jon Lansman, said he “wasn’t happy” with Corbyn for disagreeing with the report, even though he was “technically right.”

The group has encouraged members to oppose Corbyn’s suspension by passing motions and lobbying MPs. 

But the Labour’s leadership wants to make this impossible. And results of elections to Labour’s national executive last week strengthened the right’s grip on the party. 

Right wing candidates increased their number on the body, with Luke Akehurst—director of We Believe in Israel—getting most votes.

The only way to fight back is to challenge the accusations, and defend the right to criticise Israel and support Palestine. That’s not possible inside the Labour Party.

Labour’s Islamophobia crisis

More than half of Muslim members of the Labour Party do not trust Keir Starmer to tackle Islamophobia.

That’s according to a report published by Labour Muslim Network last week.

A survey of Muslim members found 55 percent of respondents did not “trust the leadership of the Labour party to tackle Islamophobia effectively”.

The report also said that more than a quarter of Muslim members had experienced Islamophobia within the ranks of the party. It said Muslim members had been subject to stereotypes of “grooming gangs”, called “terrorists” and “foreigners”, and expected to condemn violence they had no part in.

People who responded to the survey linked this to Labour’s past support for the “war on terror”—and its continued support for the Prevent programme. This encourages public sector workers, such as teachers, to report students and colleagues for signs of “extremism”.

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