SUPPORTERS across the country face suspension from the Labour Party under a new crackdown that bans local discussions about the former leader’s reinstatement as a Labour MP reports The Huffington Post.
In a letter to all local party chairs, MPs and MSPs, general secretary David Evans warned that any motions about Keir Starmer’s decision to withhold the parliamentary whip from Corbyn would be ruled “out of order”.
Any “expressions of solidarity” with Corbyn would also fall foul of tough new guidance, which strengthens existing rules that prevent discussion of ongoing disciplinary cases.
MPs believe that the crackdown could spark the wider suspension of entire local constituency Labour parties (CLPs) where activists have been most vociferous in their condemnation of Corbyn’s treatment.
Some 60 local parties are estimated to have passed motions of support for the former leader and around 100 were due to take place on Thursday night. It remains unclear if suspensions will be automatic for party officials who allow such motions to be discussed.
Evans has already suspended the chair and other activists in Bristol West after they held a Zoom meeting that discussed a motion critical of the whipping decision, although insiders say a raft of other allegations prompted the action.
Several constituencies in London and other cities are expected to see members suspended as part of the process.
One senior party source told HuffPost UK that the driving reason for the move was concerns that Jewish party members had been made to feel very uncomfortable when such motions were tabled and discussed.
“In his response to the EHRC, Keir vowed to fix the processes. But he also said he would fix the culture. He said ‘I want the Labour party to be a safe place for Jewish people again’. And that’s what this is about. This is about changing the culture and making it a safe place again,” they said.
“Because we all know that among some party members, a discussion on a seemingly innocent motion can be designed to trigger a much more frankly nasty discussion.
“Discussions about Jeremy’s status in the parliamentary party or about the EHRC could quickly turn into that, and we are not going to allow that to happen. This also about the Labour party being under new leadership.”
The fresh clampdown came as a new Survation poll of Labour members for the LabourList website found that 48% felt Starmer was “wrong” not to restore the whip to Corbyn. Some 46% think the move was “right”.
Corbyn, who was suspended for suggesting anti-Semitism was “overstated” for factional reasons, was reinstated as a member by a disciplinary panel of the ruling National Executive Committee (NEC).
After a backlash, Starmer withheld the whip and Corbyn has been since ordered to apologise for his remarks.
In his letter, Evans stressed that he is acting with the full authority of the NEC.
“I am aware that..motions (including expressions of solidarity, and matters relating to the internal processes of the PLP) are providing a flashpoint for the expression of views that undermine the Labour Party’s ability to provide a safe and welcoming space for all members, in particular our Jewish members. Therefore, all motions which touch on these issues will also be ruled out of order,” he wrote.
“Please rest assured that when I took up post as General Secretary, I had no desire at all to hamper discussion by our local parties, but until we can improve our culture such restrictions may be required to stay in place.”
The Jewish Labour Movement last week wrote to its members advising them not to put their mental or physical wellbeing at risk if they worried a local party discussion would provide an “unhealthy or discriminatory” environment.
One of the party’s veteran Jewish activists told HuffPost UK: “After five years of pleading, the Labour Party are finally taking this as seriously as they should have from the outset.
“If we had seen this kind of leadership when these issue started arising, the party wouldn’t have been stained with anti-Jewish racism. The EHRC wouldn’t have been necessary and we might have been in Government by now.”