18 Socialist Campaign Group MPs in parliament have signed a statement declaring that they oppose the suspension of Jeremy Corbyn and calling for the disciplinary action to be “quickly reversed”.
In a document shared following a meeting of the group on Wednesday evening, the left Labour MPs urged members “dismayed” by the suspension to “stay and fight for his reinstatement and for the policies for the many not the few”.
The MPs wrote: “The Equality and Human Rights Commision report ought to have been an important moment for the Labour Party to reflect and move forward together in battle against antisemitism. Instead, we now face chaos and division.”
The EHRC report published last week found Labour 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.
The statement referred to the “views of the leaders of seven trade unions”, in which the heads of the Labour-affiliated organisations expressed “serious concerns about the manner of and rationale for suspension of the former party leader”.
The SCG MPs called for the party to unite “behind the implementation of the EHRC’s recommendations”, and stressed the importance of the labour movement coming together to “take the fight to the Tories” in the face of the pandemic.
Corbyn had issued a response to the EHRC report into antisemitism within the Labour Party, in which he argued “the scale of the [antisemitism] problem was also dramatically overstated for political reasons by our opponents”.
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”.
Several MPs and groups within the Labour Party, as well as trade union Unite leader Len McCluskey, have since argued that the suspension is wrong, and called on the Labour leader to reverse the disciplinary action.
16 members of the left-wing parliamentary group did not sign the statement last night, including Nadia Whittome MP who had said she was “saddened by the suspension” but “cannot agree” with Corbyn’s statement on the report.
Also not on the list was Clive Lewis MP, who last week appeared to agree with journalist Rachel Shabi that Corbyn’s comments were “ill-advised, to put it mildly” and that it is “beyond frustrating to see Labour yet again descend into factionalism over this [antisemitism] issue and thus torpedo the EHRC report”.
The SCG statement comes as Keir Starmer heard warnings at a meeting with Jewish community groups on Wednesday that the actions of leading figures on the left and within the trade union movement risked hindering his attempt to win back trust.
Starmer attended the talks with reps from the Board of Deputies, the Jewish Labour Movement, the Jewish Leadership Council and the Community Security Trust alongside deputy leader Angela Rayner and general secretary David Evans.
JLM national secretary Peter Mason argued in a piece for LabourList yesterday that the EHRC report was supposed to “offer us some closure” on antisemitism, but that “it doesn’t appear to be arriving anytime soon”.
He wrote: “Thanks to the intervention of one man who could have avoided his inevitable suspension for denialism and questioning the report’s legally enforceable findings, we are discussing him and not the impact on us.”
Labour has been served with an unlawful act notice on the basis of the investigation by the EHRC. The party now has six weeks – until December 10th – to produce an action plan to the EHRC in response to the findings and recommendations.
All candidates in the Labour leadership election earlier this year pledged to implement an independent process, and this is a compulsory move following the publication of the final EHRC report on Labour antisemitism.
SCG MPs who did not sign the statement released on Wednesday: Paula Barker; Olivia Blake; Dan Carden; Marsha de Cordova; Rachel Hopkins; Imran Hussain; Kim Johnson; Lewis; Rachael Maskell; Andy McDonald; Nav Mishra; Charlotte Nichols; Kate Osamor; Lloyd Russell Moyle; Sam Tarry; and Whittome.
Whittome has since posted on social media to say that she missed the meeting and added that she “absolutely support the spirit” of the statement signed on Wednesday evening by other SCG MPs.
The Nottingham East MP explained: “The grounds for Jeremy’s suspension remain unclear. He should be reinstated as soon as possible so we can focus on implementing the EHRC recommendations.”
Jeremy must be reinstated.
Statement following tonight’s meeting of the Socialist Campaign Group of Labour MPs. pic.twitter.com/qhuovdGVSI
— Socialist Campaign Group (@socialistcam) November 4, 2020
Below is the full list of signatories
Diane Abbott MP
Tahir Ali MP
Apsana Begum MP
Richard Burgon MP
Ian Byrne MP
Mary Foy MP
Ian Lavery MP
Rebecca Long-Bailey MP
John McDonnell MP
Ian Mearns MP
Grahame Morris MP
Kate Osborne MP
Bell Ribeiro-Addy MP
Zarah Sultana MP
Jon Trickett MP
Claudia Webbe MP
Mick Whitley MP
Beth Winter MP