Opposition grows to Starmer’s block on Corbyn as 70,000 make their voice heard


“People are more angry than ever about the continuing injustice to Jeremy Corbyn and his constituents of arbitrarily withdrawing the whip, and the trashing of democracy this represents.”

Islington Friends of Jeremy Corbyn

By Matt Willgress, Labour Outlook

Campaigners in Islington North and across the country have welcomed the news that over 70,000 people have now added their names to a petition entitled  Restore the whip to Jeremy Corbyn – let Islington North’s members decide their candidate! and initiated by the Labour Assembly Against Austerity and Arise – A Festival of Left Ideas volunteers.

The full text of the petition says “We support Jeremy Corbyn’s reinstatement into the Labour Party and call for the Parliamentary Labour Party whip to be restored. We also support the right of Islington North CLP members to select their own candidate for the General Election.”

Responding to the petition reaching this milestone, an Islington Friends of Corbyn spokesperson said that “far from dissipating, people within and beyond the Labour Party are more angry than ever about the continuing injustice to Jeremy Corbyn and his constituents of arbitrarily withdrawing the whip and the trashing of democracy this represents,” and added that “We are still fighting for him to be reinstated so he can do the job he was elected to do.”

Their comments came days after Islington North Constituency Labour Party passed a motion saying that “This CLP would like to thank our sitting MP J. Corbyn for his commitment and service to the people – and want to express that it should be our democratic right to select our MP locally”, which followed earlier support along similar lines from Islington Trades Union Congress (read in full here) who stated that “Islington TUC supports the Islington North CLP’s rejection of the ‘NEC’s undue interference’ in the party’s democratic processes and its call for others to rally in support.”

National organisations and leading figures on Labour’s left were also keen to comment on the importance of the petition reaching such high levels of support, with Fraser McGuire, Young Labour activist and Arise – A Festival of Left Ideas Volunteer saying that, “It’s great to see this petition reach 70,000 signatures. It’s clear that many Labour members and supporters want to protect party democracy and allow Islington North CLP members to select their own candidate, which would undoubtedly be Jeremy Corby n- after he has represented the constituency and the party members there for decades.”

Rachel Garnham, Campaign for Labour Party Democracy Co-Chair added, “It is no surprise that tens of thousands of people feel aggrieved by Starmer’s hypocrisy and top-down approach to candidate selection. Just a few years ago, Jeremy Corbyn inspired a mass movement against austerity, engaging thousands of people, especially young people, in the political process for the first time. The establishment is determined to prevent this threat to the status quo recurring and is desperate to drum Jeremy out of politics. It is good to see those who believe in a better future fighting back.”

Speaking on similar lines, Kate Dove, co-chair of Momentum, said, “This milestone reflects the mass movement Jeremy’s leadership inspired. Hundreds of thousands of people joined Labour in the Corbyn period because of what it offered: real democracy and transformative change, in place of elite austerity politics. By attacking Jeremy and the democratic rights of party members in Islington North, Keir Starmer is undermining Labour’s campaigning strength, alienating our own activists and destroying the unity he once professed.”

Other campaigners also took the opportunity to note how attacks on Labour Party democracy and members’ rights were unpopular and counter productive not only in Islington North, but across the country.

Gemma Bolton, Labour NEC member responded to the news by saying, “The massive support for this petition shows the growing anger there is across our movement at the attacks on the right of local Labour Parties to select their own Parliamentary candidates. Supporters of democracy and members’ rights throughout our movement must raise our voices loudly and keep campaigning not only for Islington North to be able to select its own candidate, but for all Constituency Labour Parties to do so.”

Also speaking on the theme of Labour Party democracy, Young Labour Chair Nabeela Mowlana added that “Democracy is core to the functioning of the Labour Party. There is a clear strength of feeling that Labour members of Islington North CLP should be allowed to choose their own representative.”

It is worth remembering that as part of his campaign to be Labour leader, Keir Starmer tweeted: “local Party members should select their candidates for every election.” Yet this is exactly what has been denied to members and affiliates in Islington North. It has also been the case in numerous other constituencies in recent times where we have seen the imposition of shortlists and/or the exclusion of popular local and trade-union backed candidates, such as Wakefield, Bolton North East, Broxtowe, Kensington and Chelsea, and Milton Keynes North,

Let’s keep up the campaigning and loudly say ‘Let the members decide!’

  • This petition was launched by the Labour Assembly Against Austerity and the Arise – A Festival of Left Ideas volunteers with the support of a range of progressive campaigns, individuals and labour movement bodies. It can be signed at https://bit.ly/letmembersdecide
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Featured image: Jeremy Corbyn speaks to Islington NEU members on strike on March 2nd March 2023. Photo credit: Jeremy Corbyn/Twitter

One thought on “Opposition grows to Starmer’s block on Corbyn as 70,000 make their voice heard

  1. It’s Corbyn or the Labour party is finished, it lost its democracy when Starmer was put in place, who voted for him to become an MP, who voted for him to become the leader, can anyone answer the question
    The same applies to Sunak

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