A motion proposed by Keir Starmer to block Jeremy Corbyn standing as a Labour candidate at the next general election has been passed by members of Labour’s ruling national executive committee by 22 votes to 12.
The motion, passed by the NEC this afternoon, states that the party’s “standing with the electorate in the country, and its electoral prospects in seats it is required to win in order to secure a parliamentary majority and/or win the next general election, are both significantly diminished should Mr Corbyn be endorsed”.
The motion argues that the “Labour Party’s interests, and its political interests at the next general election, are not well served by Mr Corbyn running as a Labour Party candidate”.
Update, Tuesday 5:45pm: The former Labour leader said in a statement: “The NEC’s decision to block my candidacy for Islington North is a shameful attack on party democracy, party members and natural justice.”
Corbyn argued that Starmer has “launched an assault on the rights of his own Labour Party members”. He continued: “I will not be intimidated into silence. I have spent my life fighting for a fairer society on behalf of the people of Islington North, and I have no intention of stopping now.”
NEC members Jessica Barnard and Mish Rahman – both of whom were elected to the governing body with the backing of Momentum – said in advance of the meeting that they would not be supporting the motion. Luke Akehurst – who was backed by Labour to Win – confirmed that he would be voting in favour.
In a statement on Monday following reports on the motion, the former Labour leader accused his successor of having “denigrated the democratic foundations of our party”. Corbyn declared: “Our message is clear: we are not going anywhere. Neither is our determination to stand up for a better world.”
A senior Labour source said on Monday: “The Labour Party now is unrecognisable from the one that lost in 2019. Tuesday’s vote will confirm this and ensure we can focus on our five missions to build a better Britain.”
In a joint statement issued ahead of this afternoon’s meeting, Islington North Constituency Labour Party officers said: “We believe in the democratic right of all constituency parties to choose their prospective parliamentary candidate.
“Therefore we reject the NEC’s undue interference in Islington North, which undermines our goal of defeating the Conservatives and working with our communities for social justice.”
According to the i newspaper, the motion’s seconder Shabana Mahmood told the meeting that Corbyn is a “barrier to winning elections” and that “his behaviour since resigning as leader in the aftermath of one of our worst ever election defeats is a threat to winning”.
Labour’s national campaign coordinator raised Corbyn’s statements on the Equalities and Human Rights Commission’s (EHRC) investigation into allegations of antisemitism in the Labour Party, saying Corbyn “has failed to move one inch from the position that brought about his suspension”.
The former party leader had the whip suspended in October 2020 following his response to the publication of the EHRC’s report, which found Labour was responsible for “unlawful acts”.
The MP for Islington North claimed that “the scale of the problem was also dramatically overstated for political reasons by our opponents”.
Starmer said in February Corbyn would not stand for Labour, following the Labour leader’s speech on the EHRC’s announcement that it had concluded its monitoring of the party, which began after the equality regulator’s investigation.
The Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) welcomed the news that today’s motion had passed. They said the NEC vote “further demonstrates Keir Starmer’s unwavering commitment to zero tolerance on antisemitism and to making the change he has brought permanent, fundamental and irrevocable”.