Momentum rally: “We can get Corbyn reinstated”

Andrew Kersley

Jon Trickett has declared at a Momentum rally that he is “convinced” left-wing activists can get Jeremy Corbyn reinstated after his suspension from the Labour Party on Thursday.

Corbyn suggested after the release of Equality and Human Rights Commission report that the scale of antisemitism had been “dramatically overstated for political reasons”, which led to his suspension from the party.

Speaking at a virtual Momentum rally this evening, former shadow cabinet member Jon Trickett said activists had the “strength of numbers” and “strength of argument” to convince the party to end Corbyn’s suspension.

The online event, which was titled ‘Stand with Corbyn’, called for the immediate reinstatement of the former leader and featured a variety of Labour Party politicians, trade union figures and left-wing activists.

Referring to the last leadership’s failures on antisemitism at the event, Trickett said: “Did we make mistakes? Of course, we made mistakes, it’s part of the human condition. The thing is to try and learn from them…

“The question is: is the left a part of the problem or a part of the solution? I think it’s clear: we are a part of the solution. Because whenever you look at any struggle against antisemitism for fascism anywhere, there is the left standing firm.”

Trickett added: “I was speaking to him [Corbyn] yesterday. He told me he joined the party in 1966, I joined in 1969. So he’s done 54 years. And in that time, whenever people were in difficulty, he had their back.

“Now we need to have his back. And I’m convinced we can get him reinstated. We can get him reinstated not simply because of our strength of numbers but because of our strength of argument.”

The EHRC concluded on Thursday that Labour is responsible for three breaches of the Equality Act – relating to political interference in antisemitism complaints; failure to provide adequate training to those handling them; and harassment.

Corbyn issued a statement in response to the report, which claimed the “the scale of the [antisemitism] problem was also dramatically overstated for political reasons by our opponents inside and outside the party”.

A Labour spokesperson subsequently announced that Corbyn had been suspended, and the Parliamentary Labour Party whip removed from the Labour MP, “in light of his comments made today and his failure to retract them”.

Trickett appeared at the Momentum event tonight alongside Richard Burgon, John McDonnell and Diane Abbott, all of whom are Socialist Campaign Group MPs and former shadow cabinet members under Corbyn.

McDonnell told the event: “I’m going to read much of what I’ll say because we have to be careful in our language at the moment. We don’t want to give any hostages to fortune to any who would use our words, distort them and use them against the left.

“So let me make it clear. I’m here in solidarity with my longstanding comrade Jeremy Corbyn. What happened to him yesterday – his suspension – was profoundly wrong. That’s the bottom line. It was profoundly wrong and must be reversed.”

On Corbyn’s comments in the aftermath of the EHRC report, the former Shadow Chancellor added: “It’s true, as well, that political opponents have attacked us over the issue of antisemitism.

“Time and time again the Tories raised this in parliament, but without once criticising the racist and antisemitic behaviour of Boris Johnson their own leader. I even had antisemitism raised in Treasury questions by the Tories.

“But this does not mean that the evidence of antisemitism in our party doesn’t and didn’t exist, or was trumped up, and it doesn’t excuse not acknowledging its existence and stopping it.

“But the acknowledgement made by us all of the horrendous nature of antisemitism and its existence in our party and our society is something that should bring us together not divide us… to ensure we fight against this evil.

“That’s what I want, and that’s what Jeremy wants. My appeal is not the launch of some civil war or for members to leave the party and set up some other party. My appeal is for unity.”

Former Shadow Justice Secretary and secretary of the Socialist Campaign Group Richard Burgon told the event: “People are not going to sit idly by while the former leader of the Labour Party is expelled…

“It will be an uphill fight for Keir to become Prime Minister, which is what I want to see. I want to see Keir as Prime Minister, I want to see that Labour government for the good of my community and the good of all communities.”

The former Shadow Justice Secretary concluded: “Keir shouldn’t have that fight with one hand tied behind his back. So the way forward is clear. Readmit Jeremy. Unite to take the fight to the Tories.”

Other members of the Socialist Campaign Group believe both that Corbyn’s statement and his suspension were wrong. Nadia Whittome has said she is “saddened by the suspension” but “cannot agree” with Corbyn’s statement on the EHRC report.

Posting on social media this morning, the Labour left MP wrote that she is “concerned that the decision to suspend Jeremy and remove the whip appears unjust and does more harm than good”.

But Whittome also argued that the Islington MP was “wrong” to have issued the statement he did in response to the release of the 128-page document on the handling of antisemitism complaints during his time as leader.

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