Labour NEC set to discuss motion urging party to restore whip to Corbyn

Sienna Rodgers
© Alexandros Michailidis/Shutterstock.com

Labour’s ruling national executive committee is set to discuss at its next meeting a motion that describes the suspension of the party whip from former leader Jeremy Corbyn as “deeply divisive” and “disrespectful”.

FBU representative Ian Murray and local party representative Nadia Jama, two NEC members on the party’s left, have submitted a motion urging Labour’s chief whip Alan Campbell to restore the parliamentary whip to Corbyn.

LabourList sources say assurance has been given that the motion will be included on the agenda. NEC members have also asked for the chief whip to attend the meeting, but there has been no confirmation so far that this will happen.

Corbyn has been a Labour member but not a Labour MP since November 2020, when Keir Starmer announced that he would not be restoring the whip although the former leader had just been readmitted to the party.

Explaining the move at the time, Starmer said: “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.”

Corbyn’s original suspension took place after he reacted to the Equality and Human Rights Commission report by claiming that “the scale of the problem was also dramatically overstated for political reasons by our opponents”.

The new NEC motion on Corbyn’s whip follows a Telegraph report that the Independent MP has privately given up hope of being let back into the parliamentary party and may be considering setting up his own political party.

According to the story, the new party could take the name of the Peace and Justice Project, which was founded by the Islington North MP at the end of 2020 as a “political hub for socialists, community activists and trade unionists”.

Left-wing Labour North of Tyne mayor Jamie Driscoll dismissed reports of a new party in a conversation with LabourList on Wednesday, saying: “I think it’s someone stirring mischief against the Labour Party, to be honest.”

NEC members are also expecting to be given sight of the Forde Report – or at least the parts of the report not affected by the Information Commissioner’s Office investigation – at the next full meeting of the ruling body on Tuesday 25th January.

It is understood that Forde will be on the agenda, but NEC sources do not know whether the inquiry chair Martin Forde QC will join the meeting as requested by some members. It is unclear when the report will be published.

“We’ve paid a lot of money for this. Members should see it,” one NEC member told LabourList. NEC members receive their papers seven days before meetings, but it is unclear whether the report will be included then, only provided on the day of the meeting, or published.

The release of the report commissioned by Starmer has been delayed indefinitely since it was announced in February that the inquiry had been “made aware” that the ICO was investigating the same leaks as those looked at by Forde.

The Forde Report is the result of an inquiry looking into the so-called ‘Labour leaks’ report, an internal document leaked online in 2020 that explored Labour’s handling of antisemitism complaints and made allegations about former party staff.

Written by party staff amid the EHRC probe into Labour antisemitism, but not ultimately sent to the EHRC, the report denied that antisemitism cases were treated differently by the party than others and described toxic factionalism in Labour HQ.

Since the unredacted report was distributed online in April 2020, the party has been subject to legal action by people named in it – including ex-staffers such as Emilie Oldknow, Labour’s former director of governance.

The names of the ex-staffers accused by Labour of leaking the report – Seumas Milne, Karie Murphy, Georgie Robertson, Harry Hayball and Laura Murray – were revealed by LabourList in October. All five strenuously deny leaking it.

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