Starmer: most Labour members would not support Corbyn's EHRC response


The “vast majority” of Labour members would not have approved of Jeremy Corbyn’s response to the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s report on antisemitism in the party, Sir Keir Starmer said on Sunday.

The new leader also said his predecessor should “reflect” on what he said following the publication of the findings of the EHRC inquiry which found the party responsible for unlawful acts of harassment and discrimination.

Corbyn was suspended from the party on Thursday after he used his initial response to the EHRC conclusions to suggest that the extent of antisemitism in the party while he was leader had been exaggerated.

In an interview on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, Starmer refused to be drawn on whether he wanted to see Corbyn readmitted to the party, saying that to answer that would pre-judge the disciplinary process currently underway.

But Starmer did say that Corbyn should “reflect” on how he responded to the report when it was published.

“I think the vast majority of people in the Labour party and the wider Labour movement think that that was the wrong response and the right response was to honestly accept the findings, apologise, move forward,” Starmer said.

Starmer said that in his own response to the EHRC report he had been clear that “those that deny or minimise antisemitism in the Labour party, and say it’s just exaggerated or part of a factional fight, are part of the problem”.

Starmer went on: “I was therefore very disappointed in Jeremy’s response where he appeared to suggest it was exaggerated etc.

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“I’d invite Jeremy just to reflect on what he said … because I think for most people what they wanted from the Labour party on Thursday was an honest recognition of the problem and of an apology, a line in the sand and a constructive way to move forward, which is what I want for the Labour party.”

In his initial response to the report, Corbyn said: “One antisemite is one too many, but 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.”

After the announcement of his suspension, which he has said he will “strongly contest”, Corbyn issued a partial clarification, saying that it was wrong to say that Labour did not have a problem with antisemitism, but that he was just making a point about flawed public assumptions about the numbers involved.

“It’s … undeniable that a false impression has been created of the number of members accused of antisemitism, as polling shows: that is what has been overstated, not the seriousness of the problem,” Corbyn said.

Corbyn was referring to a poll finding in a book about Labour and antisemitism suggesting that people aware of the Labour antisemitism controversy guessed on average that 34% of party members had been the subject of a complaint. Corbyn says the actual figure is 0.3%.

Starmer said he had not spoken to Corbyn since the decision was taken to suspend him from the party.

He also rejected claims that the decision to suspend Corbyn, which also entails the removal of the party whip in the Commons, would plunge the party into “civil war”.

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“There is no need for a civil war in the Labour party. I stood on a platform to unite the party and I’m determined to do that, but I also made a solemn pledge that we would root out antisemitism and I’m not going to shirk from difficult decisions in rooting out antisemitism,” Starmer said.



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