“If the Labour Party is broad enough to welcome Christian Wakeford then it’s certainly broad enough to restore the whip to Jeremy Corbyn.”
By the Labour Outlook team.
Keir Starmer has faced heavy criticism from figures on the left of the Labour Party and wider labour movement for admitting Tory defector Christian Wakeford into the Parliamentary Labour Party while continuing to withdraw the whip from Jeremy Corbyn.
Wakeford has a record of loyally supporting some of the most reactionary Tory legislation such as the Nationality and Borders Bill, the Covert Human Intelligence Sources (or “SpyCops”) Bill, and the Policing Crime Sentencing and Courts Bill. In debates on the latter, he was an outspoken advocate for attacks on the way of life of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities.
During his time on the Education Select Committee, he was also one of six Tory MPs who voted in favour of a report arguing that white working-class boys are being held back specifically because of their ethnicity. The report was so divisive that – unusually for a select committee, which are cross-party and often operate consensually – it was opposed by Labour MPs.
After being welcomed with open arms into the PLP by Starmer, Campaign Group MPs such as Beth Winter, John Trickett, Zarah Sultana, Apsana Begum, and Richard Burgon immediately posted that Corbyn should be readmitted into the party.
In characteristically direct style, Dave Ward, Head of the Communication Workers Union, tweeted ‘welcoming Tory MPs who have slagged off the Labour Party whilst refusing, as you agreed, to reinstate the whip to a person in Jeremy Corbyn, who has devoted his whole life to our movement is unacceptable, Keir Starmer. Sort it out.’
Matt Wrack, leader of the Fire Brigades Union agreed, quoting a tweet from Berry South CLP which pointed to Wakeford’s support for MP’s second jobs.
Members of Labour’s NEC were no less vocal. Gemma Bolton, a member of the “Grassroots 5” on the NEC tweeted ‘Tory MPs should not be welcome in the Labour Party. Disgrace’.
Young Labour were equally damning, saying that ‘Christian Wakeford MP should not be admitted to the Labour Party. He has consistently voted against the interests of working-class people; for the £20 universal credit cut, for the Nationality and Borders Bill and for the Police and Crime Bill. Young Labour does not welcome him.’
Its high time Keir Starmer immediately restored the whip to the former Labour leader. As Ian Lavery wrote: ‘if the Labour Party is broad enough to welcome Christian Wakeford then it’s certainly broad enough to restore the whip to Jeremy Corbyn’.