Saturday, 28 Nov 2020

Owen Jones savages Jeremy Corbyn ‘psychodrama’ as Labour Party faces total meltdown

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Guardian columnist, Owen Jones, said while he supports the reinstatement of Jeremy Corbyn into the Labour Party he thinks the party itself is in a “mess”. Mr Corbyn was reinstated as a Labour member by the National Executive Committee on Tuesday, three weeks after he was suspended over his response to a damning Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) report. Speaking on the Jeremy Vine show, Mr Jones said: “I certainly agree about the hurt that causes to Jewish people by the existence of anti-Semitism.

“I think the problem with Labour at the moment, they’ve got themselves in this mess where the EHRC report should have been a time to unite around implementing the recommendations of the EHRC report.

“Instead it’s ended up becoming this psychodrama around Jeremy Corbyn.

“I don’t support his suspension but I do think he should be re-admitted.

“But I do think that’s part of a process of accepting the hurt and distress that has been caused to Jewish people by the presence of anti-Semitism.”

Since his comments, Sir Keir Starmer has sparked a furious backlash from supporters of Jeremy Corbyn as he blocked him from sitting as a Labour MP despite his readmission as a party member.

The Labour leader said his predecessor had “undermined” work to restore trust and confidence in the party’s ability to tackle anti-Semitism as he declined to restore the whip.

Sir Keir said on Wednesday morning that he would not restore the whip, meaning Mr Corbyn will continue to sit as an independent MP and will not be part of the Parliamentary Labour Party.

The Labour leader said in a statement: “Jeremy Corbyn’s actions in response to the EHRC report undermined and set back our work in restoring trust and confidence in the Labour Party’s ability to tackle anti-Semitism.

“In those circumstances, I have taken the decision not to restore the whip to Jeremy Corbyn. I will keep this situation under review.”

Sir Keir’s decision was welcomed by those who hoped to draw a line under the Corbyn era, but prompted an angry response from members who remain loyal to the former leader.

Former Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said the action was “just plain wrong” and would cause “more division and disunity in the party”.

Diane Abbott, who served as Shadow Home Secretary under Mr Corbyn, said removing the whip “raises serious questions of due process”.

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Fellow former shadow cabinet minister Richard Burgon said: “Jeremy should immediately have the whip restored. At a time of national crisis, division in the Labour party serves nobody but the Tory Gov’t.”

Andrew Scattergood, chairman of the Corbyn-supporting grassroots activist movement Momentum, accused Sir Keir of “making it up as he goes along”, describing the decision as a “blatant political attack on the left”.

Momentum founder Jon Lansman said the move not to restore the whip had “driven a coach and horses through the party’s disciplinary process, making it subservient to the parliamentary party and embedding “political interference”.

But Sir Keir’s action was welcomed by veteran Jewish Labour MP Dame Margaret Hodge, who said: “Yesterday has shown once again just how broken and unjust the existing complaints system is.”

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