‘How desperate the hard left is!’ Jeremy Corbyn’s new party tantrum a boon for Sir Keir
Keir Starmer tests positive for Covid
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Former Labour MP Tom Harris believes that ridding Labour of its hard-left faction headed by Mr Corbyn would provide welcome relief for its embattled leader. This side of the party is at odds with the current leadership’s centre-left ethos on everything from defence to taxation.
Writing in the Telegraph, Mr Harris – who spearheaded Scotland’s Brexit campaign – said that the splinter group is unlikely to break away unless there is electoral reform.
This is because “the current electoral system is guaranteed to kill any splinter group, either immediately or within a very few years”.
He claimed this is “why so many on the hard Left are advocates of electoral reform, which they hope would guarantee at least some representation for a committed Marxist faction”.
Mr Harris’ comments came after it was reported that Mr Corbyn – the MP for Islington North – is reportedly considering turning his recently launched Peace and Justice Project into a political party.
It comes as he continues to have the whip withdrawn after criticising the party’s investigation into anti-Semitism during his tenure.
Sir Keir has said that he will only reinstate him as a Labour MP if he apologises for the comments.
This currently seems unlikely to happen – leading to speculation that he could head a splinter group which would undoubtedly attract legions of Corbynistas.
Mr Harris said: “There’s no escaping the fact that a new party emerging from Corbyn’s recently launched Peace and Justice Project would pose some organisational and presentational difficulties for Starmer.
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“But there is far more to be gained from such a split, and those who want to see a Labour government in our lifetime should keep their fingers crossed that the rumour mill, on this occasion, is accurate.
“The root of Corbyn’s grievance is obvious: any MP deprived of the party whip cannot be considered by his or her local party as an official candidate.
“Naturally, Starmer wants rid of Corbyn from the Parliamentary Labour Party, but that simply wasn’t going to happen if he trusted the judgment of local members in Islington North. Pressing the nuclear button of expulsion would provoke a massive backlash, so deprivation of the whip until after the next general election is an effective, unchallengeable tactic that will serve Starmer’s ends.”
He claimed that even if Mr Corbyn stood in his seat as an independent at the next election, it would have “more upsides than downsides for Starmer”.
The former New Labour minister continued: “He needs to show that he is in charge of the party and that his promise of a zero tolerance approach to anti-Semitism is being honoured.
“Corbyn, whose ill-judged comments about the inquiry into anti-Semitism in Labour by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) led directly to his suspension, remains an embarrassment to Labour so long as he sits in Parliament.
“If he is there as an independent with his own mandate, Starmer can legitimately disown all responsibility for his presence.”
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