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TRIBUNE COMMENT: An ill-judged move against the People’s MP

Sir Keir Starmer’s treatment of much liked and admired Jeremy Corbyn will threaten Labour Party unity

20 November, 2020

Islington North’s Jeremy Corbyn is – by any historical comparison – one of the most popular MPs in the land

THE decision by Sir Keir Starmer to disbar Jeremy Corbyn as a working Labour MP will inevitably set in motion an unedifying battle for what could be said to be the soul of the party.

It cannot be compared to Neil Kinnock’s contest with the Militants in the 1980s – they were fewer in number and more inconsequential than Jeremy Corbyn’s followers who probably number at least half of the party’s 500,000 membership.

More than that, Jeremy Corbyn is – by any historical comparison – one of the most popular MPs in the land. Nearly 40 years in the seat. More than a 26,000 majority. If Diana was a People’s Princess, Corbyn is a People’s MP. He is known to thousands of ordinary people in Islington – and much liked and admired as a decent person.

Keir Starmer has been much lauded as an astute jurist though that is a quality that has been known to be absent from many judgments by various chiefs of the Crown Prosecution Service in the past.

All the signs, however, are that Starmer’s moves on the strategic chess board in what, presumably, must have been a planned game, appear to have been poorly thought through. Judging by his public statements, his assumptions were based on a supposed need to eliminate anti-semitism in the Labour Party, and that that alone not only justified his unprecedented denial of the Whip but also would be supported by the vast majority of party members.

We would think, however, that what is on everyone’s mind is the desperate health crisis, the ever-rising number of Covid-linked deaths, and the fearful state of the economy.

He faces a double danger – anger from a very large number of ordinary party members, support for Corbyn from a baffled public, and a growing feeling from those old hands in the party, many of them traditionalists, as well as his direct political enemies that he is less competent than they thought. In the battle of ideas that is part of the natural order of things in society, Starmer’s stubborn move to close the door on Corbyn may lose him support from what is regarded as the establishment.

He has talked much in the past about the need for unity in the party. At the moment, he is creating division, and a peculiar kind of duality of leadership.

Whatever managerial skills he has acquired over the years, they are not what are required in this particular political battle.


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