When he’s not on the picket line or at a pro-Palestine march, former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn still finds time to enjoy the lighter side of life. If he’s not passionately admiring the intricate beauty of drain gratings or watching his beloved Arsenal lose the league, he is finding the best way to be a real nuisance to his successor, Sir Keir Starmer.
On Wednesday, Corbyn managed to summon all of his sycophants from the Islington North CLP to a meeting where they passed a motion thanking him for his service and defended their “democratic right” to choose their own MP. The motion passed 98 per cent to two, with 60 ayes and one abstention. This seems impressive until one is informed that there are over 4000 members of the Islington North CLP and only 61 bothered turning up.
This defiant stance from a small coterie of comrades is an attempt to hit back at Starmer for barring Corbyn from standing for Labour at the next general election.
In his dramatic overhaul of the party – attempting to rid it of Corbyn’s cronies and the persistent accusations of anti-semitism – Starmer proclaimed: “Let me be very clear: Jeremy Corbyn will not stand at the next general election as a Labour party candidate”.
He continued: “What I said about the party changing, I meant, and we are not going back, and that is why Jeremy Corbyn will not stand as a Labour candidate at the next general election.”
Starmer said this back in February and Corbyn continues to sit in the Commons as an independent while still attending Labour meetings as a member.
After yesterday’s unanimous victory, Corbyn said he’d like to continue his role as MP for the constituency. This raises the question, if Corbyn should run as an independent, who would the Labour Party field against him?
Kevin Maguire in the New Statesman whispered of a trade unionist plot to replace Corbyn with “Angela Rayner’s ‘soulmate’” Sam Tarry. Tarry, 40, was sacked from the front bench by Starmer after speaking at a rail workers’ picket line and has been ousted from running in Ilford next year by Jas Athwal, who was previously blocked in 2019 on the back of serious sexual harassment allegations.
Even if Corbyn runs as an independent, one suspects he could still command a fair chunk of the vote; he has held his seat since 1983. But at least with Tarry, a man who enjoys the picket line as much as the old dog, the battle will not be too bloody – or, so they hope.
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