Kay Burley grills Anneliese Dodds on Jeremy Corbyn
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The Labour NEC – the governing body of the party overseeing policy-making and the party’s overall direction – will hold a crunch meeting on Tuesday to discuss changes to the party’s procedure for selecting parliamentary candidates. The outcome could have huge implications for former leader Jeremy Corbyn, who had the whip withdrawn in 2020 and has remained a party outsider since, with current leader Sir Keir Starmer reluctant to welcome his predecessor back into the party fold.
Under proposals being put forward in today’s NEC meeting, the timetable for selecting candidates would be cut from nine weeks to five and there would be a spending limit of up to £3,500.
The changes would also dilute unions’ power by removing their right to guarantee places for their preferred candidates on shortlists, which could be met with resistance.
If the changes come into force, it could make it easier for Corbyn supporters to push for restoration of the whip.
But even if this doesn’t manifest, there is still the chance Mr Corbyn could burst back onto the political scene on his own terms, with rumours of a brand new party growing in Westminster.
Mr Corbyn, MP for Islington North now acting as an independent, is said to be considering launching a new party if the whip isn’t restored.
If this were to happen, it would split the Labour vote and prevent Sir Keir from winning the next general election, effectively forcing the current party leader to restore the whip or face a huge party rebellion.
According to the Telegraph, sources claim Mr Corbyn could upgrade his Peace and Justice Project charity into a political party and run on the ticket at the next election.
Such a move could wreak havoc within the Labour ranks, as the new party could tempt the defection of Left-wing MPs who are frustrated by the direction Sir Keir is taking the party.
Mr Corbyn is believed to have been urged by many within his inner circle, including his wife Laura Alvarez, to establish the new party and accept his time within Labour has come to a close.
A close ally of the former Labour leader did not deny claims he was considering setting up a new political party, but told the Telegraph there had been no “advanced discussions”.
A spokesman for the Peace and Justice project said there were as yet “no plans” for it to become a party.
Mr Corbyn’s spokesman said he “wants to see a Labour Party and government that is serious about shifting wealth and power from the few to the many”.
Mr Corbyn became leader of the Labour Party in 2015, following Ed Miliband’s defeat in the General Election of that year.
Mr Miliband presided over two elections, successfully leading the party to make significant gains in the 2017 election, but resigned after Boris Johnson’s landslide victory in December 2019.
In October 2020, the Equalities and Human Rights Commission published findings from its investigation into anti-Semitism within the Labour Party.
The human rights watchdog found Labour responsible for “unlawful” harassment and discrimination within the party and laid some of the blame on “serious failings” during Jeremy Corbyn’s four-and-a-half years as party leader.
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Mr Corbyn responded by saying anti-Semitism was “absolutely abhorrent” and “one anti-Semite is one too many” in the party.
But he then said: “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.”
Labour responded rapidly, withdrawing the whip from Mr Corbyn almost immediately, effectively suspending him from the party he once lead.
Sir Keir has been deeply reluctant to restore the whip since, saying his predecessor had undermined Labour’s work on “restoring trust” with the Jewish community and suggested the former party leader should issue a full apology before his whip could be restored.
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