UK Labour formally bans Corbyn from running as a candidate in elections

Ex-party leader issues defiant statement indicating he may run as an independent, won’t be intimidated; his local Labor constituency leaders reject ruling as ‘undue interference’

Former Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn speaks during a protest outside the gates of Downing Street against the increase of the cost of living, in London, Saturday, April 2, 2022 (AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali)
Former Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn speaks during a protest outside the gates of Downing Street against the increase of the cost of living, in London, Saturday, April 2, 2022 (AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali)

The UK Labour party on Tuesday formally banned past leader MK Jeremy Corbyn from running as a candidate of the party in the next elections.

Corbyn, who faced claims of ignoring party antisemitism when he was chief, responded by rejecting the ruling and indicating he would run in the elections as an independent. His Islington North constituency Labour party branch also dismissed the ban.

Labour’s current leader MK Keir Starmer had brought to the party’s National Executive Committee a motion to ban Corbyn, which was approved 22-12. The NEC must approve all candidates on the party’s election slate. The motion did not mention antisemitism but did note that Labour’s chances of winning seats in the next election would be “significantly diminished” if Corbyn were one of its candidates.

“The NEC’s decision to block my candidacy for Islington North is a shameful attack on party democracy, party members and natural justice,” Corbyn said in a statement.

“I will not be intimidated into silence,” he continued. “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.”

Islington North constituency Labour party (CLP) also denounced the ban on Corbyn, saying in a statement that voters “deserve a free and fair vote on who gets to represent them. Therefore, we reject the NEC’s undue interference in Islington North, which undermines our goal of defeating the Conservatives and working with our communities for social justice.”

Keir Starmer, leader of the UK’s Labour party, speaks at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland January 19, 2023. (Markus Schreiber/AP)

There was more criticism from Jon Lansman, a Jewish political activist and founder of the Momentum organization, which played a pivotal role in Corbyn’s election as Labour leader. He told Times Radio that Starmer was “behaving like some kind of Putin of the Labour party,” according to a report from the UK’s Guardian newspaper.

Momentum issued a statement saying the ban was an “anti-democratic stitch-up,” the newspaper reported.

A landmark October 2020 report by the UK’s Equality and Human Rights Commission ruled that Labour under Corbyn had broken the law in its “inexcusable” handling of complaints about antisemitism.

The period saw Jewish members and lawmakers leave the party in droves as criticism of Israel and Zionism veered into toxic antisemitism from Corbyn supporters.

The party suspended Corbyn in 2020 after he claimed opponents had exaggerated the scale of antisemitism in Labour for “political reasons.” He had represented Labour in parliament since 1983 and now sits as an independent lawmaker.

Britain’s Jewish Chronicle newspaper, reporting on the ban against Corbyn, cited a recent poll that found 55 percent of potential voters believed Starmer was doing the right thing by pursuing a ban while 23% felt it was wrong.

Opinion polls currently indicate that Labour under Starmer is on course to seize power from Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s Conservatives in a general election expected next year, after more than a decade in opposition.

Since 2019, Starmer has restored the party’s standing after taking over from the far-left Corbyn.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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