Momentum urges Labour quitters to rejoin party and defend Corbyn

Sienna Rodgers

Momentum has launched a drive urging people who have recently left the Labour Party to rejoin as members and defend Jeremy Corbyn amid reports that the former leader could be sued over his Panorama settlement criticism.

“The Labour right have made their intentions clear. They want to push the left out of the party. But what they don’t realise is that our movement is stronger than their machine,” reads an email sent by Momentum on Wednesday evening.

“In recent days, reports have emerged that Jeremy Corbyn could be sued over his statement criticising the Panorama settlements, and that some former party staff said they would drop their lawsuits against the party if Jeremy is expelled from Labour membership.

“Our movement mobilised to defend Jeremy, raising over £280,000 for a crowdfund, which has been shared over 40,000 times. But Jeremy needs more than money – he needs allies. If you’ve left the party, now is the time to rejoin.”

Labour apologised last week to seven former Labour staffers and BBC journalist John Ware, and agreed to pay “substantial damages”, for its response to a documentary last year on antisemitism within the party.

The settlement is believed to have cost the party between £600,000 and £750,000, with around £200,000 in damages agreed for the eight individuals. It has been reported that Corbynite figures are considering a challenge to the settlement.

Corbyn said the moves last week amounted to a “political decision, not a legal one”, described them as “disappointing”, and said Labour received legal advice indicating it had a strong defence in the Panorama libel case.

After it was reported that BBC journalist John Ware was planning to take legal action against Corbyn following these criticisms, a GoFundMe page was set up. It has received over £305,000 in donations so far.

Although Momentum cites reports that the ex-staffers said they would drop their lawsuits if Corbyn were expelled, journalist Lee Harpin tweeted that a source close to them commented this “isn’t true” and “isn’t helpful”.

The email to Momentum members argues: “Leaving the party now would not only undo the great strides we have made in the last five years, it would gift the party back to the Labour right at a time when our country needs a left-wing Labour Party more than ever.”
The campaign group, which last month was taken over by a newly elected leadership, is also promoting its slate of national executive committee (NEC) candidates – collectively called ‘Grassroots Voice’ – in the summer elections.

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