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TRIBUNE COMMENT: New management’s Corbyn suspension is a divisive decision

As the enormity of Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer’s actions take hold, support for Islington North’s long-serving MP will roll in

30 October, 2020

Sir Keir Starmer

THOUGH it may be thought Sir Keir Starmer acted on the hoof when he alone, effectively, suspended Jeremy Corbyn from the party, his action could be seen as a reaffirmation of an earlier statement that Labour is “under new management”.

Cynics may point out that such a momentous decision is easier to slip through the political system at a time when the nation is more pre-occupied with the more over­whelming crisis caused by Covid.

Certainly, unanswered questions remain: if Starmer’s decision was based on Corbyn’s reaction to the damning Equalities report and not, essentially, the findings of the report itself, at what point in time, all within the space of an hour or so, did the Labour leader act? Presumably with the agreement of the General Secretary? But not it seems any disciplinary committee. All of which could be said to expose the lack of normal democratic process in the party.

It is the opaque nature of the party and the fear by supporters of Corbyn, who run into thousands in Islington North, that they have to tread carefully in this political minefield, that is holding back a more open, public and strident protest.

But protests will come. Corbyn isn’t an MP in a marginal seat – his majority is unassailably nearly 30,000. And as the enormity of Starmer’s decision takes hold, support for Corbyn will simply roll in.

Jeremy Corbyn

It is one thing to suspend and expel a recalcitrant MP like Chris Williamson in a marginal constituency – quite another to do it with one of the most popular MPs in this part of north London.

But one must assume that Starmer thought this through when he took what seems a quick – if not hasty – decision yesterday afternoon (Thursday). In short, he may well have prepared himself some time ago when he ran for the leadership as he would have known at the time that the Equalities report would bring his long-standing political differences with Corbyn to a head within a short time of his mounting the political throne.

Essentially, Labour may be facing a clash over divisive streams of thought that are unavoidable as the economy, already in a shaky state, reels under the Covid disease – papering the cracks in the economy may no longer be sufficient. What is needed is a new “green” economy with a competent government able to introduce it, a government that believes in rational public investment, essentially in public health. This government shows no sign of being able to live up to this imperative.

Judging by Starmer’s policy statements on the obvious failures of the present government, however, there are few signs that he has the required dedication to the revolutionary policies that are necessary if the present crisis is to be overcome.

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