WATCH: Decision not to restore whip to Corbyn a “witch-hunt”, says McCluskey

Elliot Chappell

Len McCluskey has described the decision taken by Keir Starmer not to restore the whip to Jeremy Corbyn following the lifting of the former Labour leader’s suspension as a “witch-hunt and persecution of a decent man”.

In an interview this morning, the general secretary of Unite the Union said Starmer “disregarded process” by not restoring the whip after a panel of five national executive committee (NEC) members readmitted Corbyn to the party.

He said: “An NEC panel, a unanimous NEC panel of five individuals, made a decision. And let me just make this clear, out of the five – in case there’s any dubiety – there are only two out of those five who could be described as Corbyn supporters.

“And yet it was a unanimous decision and now Keir seems to have disregarded process and stepped in with this extraordinary decisions. It looks to me very much like a witch-hunt and persecution of a decent man.

“You know, people can disagree with Corbyn on a whole host of things but I think mst people regard him as a decent, honest individual and to be persecuted and witch-hunted in this way is not the Labour Party way of doing things.”

Corbyn was suspended nearly three weeks ago after claiming that “the scale of the problem was also dramatically overstated for political reasons by our opponents” in his response to the Equality and Human Rights Commission report.

The report, examining antisemitism within the Labour Party, had found the party responsible for “unlawful acts of harassment and discrimination” and “serious failings in leadership” during the time that Corbyn was in charge.

Corbyn was readmitted to the party after a meeting of a panel of five NEC members on Tuesday evening. But Starmer declared on Wednesday that his predecessor would not have the Labour whip restored.

Announcing his decision, Starmer said: “Since I was elected Labour leader, I have made it my mission to root out antisemitism from the Labour Party. I know that I will judged on my actions, not my words.

“The disciplinary process does not have the confidence of the Jewish community. That became clear once again yesterday.

“It is the task of my leadership to fix what I have inherited. That is what I am resolute in doing and I have asked for an independent process to be established as soon as possible.

“I’m the leader of the Labour Party, but I’m also the leader of the Parliamentary Labour Party.

“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 antisemitism.

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

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