Corbyn SELF-DESTRUCTION: Starmer had ‘no choice’ but to oust former Labour leader

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Sir Keir acted after Mr Corbyn released a statement in the wake of the publication of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) report which concluded Labour was responsible for “unlawful harassment” over anti-Semitism. Mr Corbyn said the problem was “dramatically overstated” – a claim which prompted Sir Keir’s decision.

I don’t think Keir Starmer intended to suspend his predecessor straight away. But Corbyn gave him a wholly justified excuse to do just that

Ian Hernon

Ian Hernon, a former Labour Party member whose book ‘Anti-Semitism and the Left’ was published by Amberley Publishing last year, told Express.co.uk: “I don’t think Keir Starmer intended to suspend his predecessor straight away.

“But Corbyn gave him a wholly justified excuse to do just that.

“It shows that Starmer, unlike Corbyn, is willing to act decisively to cut out this cancer rather than just mouth empty words.

“Corbyn professed to be surprised at his suspension which says a lot about him.”

Mr Hernon, who told Express.co.uk in the summer he believed Mr Starmer would be forced to act, added: “The report identified ‘serious failings’ in the party leadership’s supposed attempts to tackle anti-Jewish racism.

“Corbyn claims that he speeded up the process rather than hindered it but that is laughable. For four years after he took over, Jewish MPs and activists were abused and intimidated to the point of death threats, but Corbyn continued to share platforms with professed anti-Semites.”

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Speaking after Mr Corbyn’s suspension was confirmed, Sir Keir told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I made it clear the Labour Party I lead will not tolerate anti-Semitism, neither will it tolerate the argument that denies or minimises anti-Semitism in the Labour Party on the basis that it’s exaggerated or a factional row.”

In his statement, Mr Corbyn said: “Antisemitism is absolutely abhorrent, wrong and responsible for some of humanity’s greatest crimes.

“As Leader of the Labour Party I was always determined to eliminate all forms of racism and root out the cancer of antisemitism.”

“I have campaigned in support of Jewish people and communities my entire life and I will continue to do so.”

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He added: “Anyone claiming there is no antisemitism in the Labour Party is wrong.

“Of course there is, as there is throughout society, and sometimes it is voiced by people who think of themselves as on the Left.

“Jewish members of our party and the wider community were right to expect us to deal with it, and I regret that it took longer to deliver that change than it should.

“One anti-Semite is one too many, but the scale of the problem was also dramatically overstated for political reasons by our opponents inside and outside the party, as well as by much of the media. That combination hurt Jewish people and must never be repeated.

“My sincere hope is that relations with Jewish communities can be rebuilt and those fears overcome. While I do not accept all of its findings, I trust its recommendations will be swiftly implemented to help move on from this period.”

Some on the left have criticised Sir Keir’s decision, with Len McCluskey, general secretary of Unite the Union, calling it “an act of grave injustice which, if not reversed, will create chaos within the party and in doing so compromise Labour’s chances of a general election victory”.

However, Dame Margaret Hodge, Labour MP for Barking, said it was the right decision, and showed the party was “finally saying enough is enough, anti-Semitism can never be tolerated”.

In July, Labour agreed to pay “substantial damages” to seven whistleblowers over “defamatory and false allegations” made in a press release issued prior to the screening of a BBC Panorama investigation into anti-Semitism.

In the documentary, whistleblowers Katherine Buckingham, Michael Creighton, Samuel Matthews, Daniel Hogan, Louise Withers Green, Martha Robinson and Benjamin Westerman voiced concerns about “a lack of commitment” by Labour to properly investigate antisemitism.

In the press release, Labour accused all seven of having acted in bad faith during and after their employment.

Mark Henderson, representing Labour, told London’s High Court: “The Labour Party is here today to publicly set the record straight and to apologise to the claimants for the distress and embarrassment that it has caused them.”

Express.co.uk has contacted Mr Corbyn to ask for a response to Mr Hernon’s comments.

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