Jeremy Corbyn has been readmitted into the Labour party just 19 days after he was suspended for saying that anti-Semitism had been ‘dramatically overstated for political reasons’. The party’s ruling National Executive Committee this evening decided that a statement issued earlier today by the former Labour leader was sufficient to merit no further action.
Corbyn’s statement stopped short of a full apology, merely retracting the ‘dramatically overstated’ line and saying:
‘I regret the pain this issue has caused the Jewish community and would wish to do nothing that would exacerbate or prolong it.’
It was also a reiteration of what he had said on the day he was suspended. This went down very badly with Jewish campaigners, with the Campaign Against Antisemitism calling it ‘desperate’ and saying the statement ‘seeks to recast his comments gaslighting the Jewish community when the EHRC’s report into Labour antisemitism was released’.
Meanwhile Marie van der Zyl, president of the Board of Deputies, warned that the party had to consign this statement to the ‘dustbin of history’ and that ‘to do otherwise would be a failure of leadership which would risk the party slipping backwards’.
Sir Keir Starmer plays no part in the NEC disciplinary process, something he was very keen to emphasise when Corbyn was suspended. But as leader he can still say he disagrees with the outcome of that process. He could even demand that the whip be withdrawn as this is a separate matter to Corbyn’s membership. If he doesn’t speak out against what has happened today, he will find that the work he has put in to reassuring the Jewish community that Labour is under new management is now treated with rather less seriousness.
UPDATE: Starmer has now issued a statement in a series of tweets which doesn’t offer a decision on Corbyn’s status in the parliamentary party but does suggest that he does not have faith in way the NEC reached its decision:
I know that this has been another painful day for the Jewish community and those Labour members who have fought so hard to tackle antisemitism.
I know the hurt that has been caused and the trauma people have felt.
— Keir Starmer (@Keir_Starmer) November 17, 2020
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