Time to #restorethewhip to Jeremy Corbyn – Rachel Garnham, Vice Chair, Campaign for Labour Party Democracy

“We need a Labour Party that can promote unity over division & that means we continue to fight for a Party in which Jeremy Corbyn is not just a Labour member & an MP, but is back in the Parliamentary Labour Party where he belongs.”

Rachel Garnham, CLPD Vice-Chair

It is now, unbelievably, a year since the decision to not restore the whip to Jeremy Corbyn despite the conclusion of the disciplinary process that left him still a Labour Party member and still a Member of Parliament. In the meantime he has worked tirelessly, as usual, for peace and justice across Britain and internationally, supporting campaigns, building solidarity and promoting the policies we need to change lives, reduce inequalities and win a transformative Labour government.

In stark contrast, the current Labour leadership has been treating its membership like dirt, unable to provide the necessary opposition to the government’s callous approach to public health in letting Covid rip through our schools, failing to publish the Forde report and limping to a poll lead on the back of the most corrupt governments in living memory.

It appears that the argument given is that Jeremy must apologise for telling the truth – attempting to bully one of the most principled, truthful, authentic MPs in parliament into a dishonesty that will do no-one any favours. But it is obvious that this is just an excuse anyway. The right wing media was clear from the election defeat of 2019 that it expected any incoming Labour leadership to get rid of both Corbyn and any chance of Labour being led by anyone who would back a fundamental shift in the balance of power in this country and genuinely address our increasingly unequal society. This has been the agenda of the Starmerites from the outset – and continues with recent exclusions of candidates with CLP support from shortlists, the ongoing failure to respect our democratically agreed rulebook and further suspensions of left activists on trumped up charges.

And yet the left of the Labour Party stubbornly refuses to go away – knowing as we do, and as we saw in 2017, that only the left has the policies to address the crises of our age, and that can provide a positive agenda for young people on access to decent housing, education and jobs, inspiring non-voters to vote. We know that the place you will find most organised socialists is still in the Labour Party – members who want to defend Labour values, to reduce inequalities and build unity between CLPs and trade unions to change society. This is the agenda that came so close to general election victory in 2017, it is the agenda that Jeremy continues to stand for, and, unbelievably now, it is the agenda on which Keir Starmer won the Labour leadership with his 10 pledges and commitment to integrity, authority and unity – now entirely in tatters.

CLPD supported a rule change to this year’s annual conference to enable political decisions made in relation to the Parliamentary Labour Party to be accountable to our sovereign annual conference. Despite the exclusion of left delegates, the apparent rigging of the debate and the repeated lies told about what the rule change would mean, there was still strong support for restoring the whip via this route. We may have lost the rule change, but the issues remain the same. The quickest way to restore some sense of Party unity, not a Party in crisis at war with itself, would be restore the whip to Jeremy Corbyn and learn some lessons from the past six years that will actually benefit ordinary voters rather than drawing the lesson that the left must be smashed.

Because we desperately want a Labour government that will put serious action to address climate change top of its agenda, that will put people and public health before profit, that will defend our NHS and support public services, that will fight racism and promote peace and justice internationally, we need a Labour Party that can promote unity over division and that means we continue to fight for a Party in which Jeremy Corbyn is not just a Labour member and an MP, but is back in the Parliamentary Labour Party where he belongs.

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