Seriously? Labour activists urge UK to celebrate Jeremy Corbyn’s birthday in online event
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Grassroots activists are being invited to attend the online event to celebrate Mr Corbyn’s 73rd birthday, which will place from 7.30pm until 9pm. ‘Happy Birthday Jeremy – Restore the Whip’ will feature speakers from Mr Corbyn’s biggest allies, including former Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, Labour MPs Richard Burgon and Zarah Sultana, Unite leadership contender Howard Beckett and Karie Murphy, who was an aide to the former leader. Mr Corbyn is expected to join the party at some stage in the evening.
A large chunk of this event will feature tributes from grassroots campaigners from throughout the country and is aimed at helping restore the whip to Mr Corbyn.
In October, the former Labour leader was suspended by the party after 54 years of membership following his controversial response to the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) report on Labour’s handling of anti-Semitism complaints.
Mr Corbyn’s suspension was reviewed by members of the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) before he was readmitted to the party a few weeks later.
But Sir Keir Starmer, who had replaced Mr Corbyn as Labour leader in April 2020, has continued to refuse his predecessor to sit as an active Labour MP.
Ahead of the birthday event, Labour Grassroots host Crispin Flintoff said: “Jeremy Corbyn deserves a celebration after all he’s had to put up with even now that he’s not Labour leader.
“We want to show Jeremy the strength of support behind him at the same time as highlighting the obvious need for the PLP to return him to the Labour benches.
“Without Jeremy in the party, morale has fallen and Labour’s electoral prospects are dreadful.”
Last October, Mr Corbyn was suspended from Labour after he accused the party’s anti-Semitism problem of being “overstated”.
Referring to a statement the former leader made on Facebook earlier in the day, a spokesperson for the Labour Party said: “In light of his comments made today and his failure to retract them subsequently, the Labour Party has suspended Jeremy Corbyn pending investigation.
“He has also had the whip removed from the Parliamentary Labour Party.”
But Mr Corbyn hit back at Labour’s decision, and tweeted: “I will strongly contest the political intervention to suspend me.
“I’ve made absolutely clear those who deny there has been an anti-Semitism problem in the Labour Party are wrong.
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“I will continue to support a zero tolerance policy towards all forms of racism.”
Mr Corbyn’s suspension came after a damning report from the Equality and Human Rights Commission found the party was responsible for unlawful acts of harassment and discrimination.
But he hit back at the report, saying he did not accept all the findings, adding the scale of the anti-Semitism problem in Labour was “dramatically overstated” for political reasons.
The former Labour leader said in a statement posted to Facebook: “Anti-Semitism is absolutely abhorrent, wrong and responsible for some of humanity’s greatest crimes. As Leader of the Labour Party I was always determined to eliminate all forms of racism and root out the cancer of anti-Semitism.
“I have campaigned in support of Jewish people and communities my entire life and I will continue to do so.
“The EHRC’s report shows that when I became Labour leader in 2015, the Party’s processes for handling complaints were not fit for purpose. Reform was then stalled by an obstructive party bureaucracy.
“But from 2018, Jennie Formby and a new NEC that supported my leadership made substantial improvements, making it much easier and swifter to remove anti-Semites. My team acted to speed up, not hinder the process.
“Anyone claiming there is no anti-Semitism in the Labour Party is wrong. Of course there is, as there is throughout society, and sometimes it is voiced by people who think of themselves as on the left.
“Jewish members of our party and the wider community were right to expect us to deal with it, and I regret that it took longer to deliver that change than it should.
“One anti-Semite 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. That combination hurt Jewish people and must never be repeated.
“My sincere hope is that relations with Jewish communities can be rebuilt and those fears overcome. While I do not accept all of its findings, I trust its recommendations will be swiftly implemented to help move on from this period.”
Mr Corbyn had also insisted he was not “part of the problem” over Labour’s handling of anti-Semitism.
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