‘Antisemitism is An Evil:’ UK Labour Party Bans Former Leader Jeremy Corbyn From Running As Election Candidate
by Ben Cohen
The former leader of the British Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn — whose five year term at its helm was marked by a succession of scandals involving antisemitism — has been banned by the party’s national executive from standing as its representative at the next general election.
Labour’s National Executive Committee on Tuesday voted 22-12 in favor of a motion submitted by the party’s leader, Sir Keir Starmer, to eject Corbyn from the party’s roster of election candidates. The decision means that if Corbyn wishes to run again in Islington North, the London parliamentary constituency he has represented since 1983, he would have to do so as an independent candidate.
Speaking after Tuesday’s vote, Starmer said that it was “an important moment in the history of the Labour Party,” pledging “zero tolerance” for racism and antisemitism.
“Antisemitism is an evil and any political party that cultivates it does not deserve power,” Starmer declared.
During Corbyn’s term as leader, antisemitic rhetoric, much of it targeting Zionism and supporters of Israel, became rife within the party, leading to mass resignations of Jewish members and reports from Jewish Labour MPs of harassment both online and in the real world. In 2018, three years after Corbyn was elected, Sir David Garrard, one of the party’s leading donors, announced that he was withdrawing his support, asserting that Labour under Corbyn “has supported and endorsed the most blatant acts of antisemitism, and yet it has failed to expel many of those who have engaged in the grossest derogatory fantasies about Jewish/Zionist conspiracies – and Jewish characterizations and accusations which conjure up the very kind of antisemitic attacks that led to such unbearable consequences for innocent millions in the past.”
Corbyn’s term came to an end in 2020, a few months after Labour suffered an ignominious defeat in the UK General Election. In October that same year, Starmer removed the party’s parliamentary whip from his predecessor after Corbyn denounced a report into Labour antisemitism from the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) — the UK’s national equality body — as “dramatically overstated.” The report concluded that Labour had been responsible for “unlawful” acts of harassment and discrimination during Corbyn’s tenure.
Asked by reporters on Tuesday whether he would “categorically” rule out a Corbyn candidacy, Starmer replied,”Let me be very clear about that: Jeremy Corbyn will not stand for Labour at the next general election, as a Labour party candidate.”
He continued: “What I said about the party changing, I meant, and we are not going back, and that is why Jeremy Corbyn will not stand as a Labour candidate at the next general election.”
In a furious response to the NEC’s decision, Corbyn said that Tuesday’s “disgraceful move shows contempt for the millions of people who voted for our party in 2017 and 2019, and will demotivate those who still believe in the importance of a transformative Labour government.”
Intimating that he may run as an independent, Corbyn said that he would “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.”