Is Jeremy Corbyn preparing to launch a new party?
Former Labour leader being urged to run under the banner of his charity at next election
Jeremy Corbyn could establish his own political party after privately accepting that his suspension as a Labour MP will never be revoked.
The former Labour leader has been “urged by many in his inner circle” to turn his charity, the Peace and Justice Project (PJP), into a fully-fledged party, The Telegraph said.
Despite “back channel” attempts to negotiate his return to the Parliamentary Labour Party, Corbyn has reportedly “told friends he does not now believe he will have the whip reinstated before the next election”, meaning he will have to stand as an independent.
Allies of Corbyn, however, believe he has enough of a “personal vote” to win his Islington North seat – where he has been the MP since 1983 – without the backing of the Labour Party.
A “close ally” of the former leader told the paper there had been no “advanced discussions” over the possibility of Corbyn’s charity project being turned into a political party. A spokesperson for the PJP said there were currently “no plans” to do so.
According to The Telegraph, Corbyn plans to use the next year to “increase the activities” of the PJP.
Corbyn launched the charity in December 2020 after his suspension from Labour following the release of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) report into anti-Semitism under his leadership.
Plans for this year include a tour of the UK to meet potential voters and discuss political issues such as workers’ rights, human rights and nuclear disarmament.
Keir Starmer has stated that he will readmit his predecessor to the parliamentary party if he apologises publicly for his response to the publication of the EHRC report. Corbyn has refused to apologise, insisting he is “determined to eliminate all forms of racism”.
A new left party?
The idea of Corbyn “turning his Peace and Justice Project (PJP) into a new left party is not as crazy as it sounds”, said Paul Mason in The New Statesman.
Britain in the 20th century had an “effective, high-profile Communist Party”, while other European countries, such as Spain, have seen leftist parties “exert leverage on centre-left governments even where they are excluded from office” through coalitions.
While Corbyn’s potential new left party “would bomb electorally”, it would “provide a home for tens of thousands of activists fed up with Keir Starmer”, Mason added.
The move could also “wreak havoc” for Starmer, said political reporter Emily Ferguson on the the i news site.
Corbyn could “tempt the defection of left-wing MPs”, for example Diane Abbott and John McDonnell, who are allies of the former leader and “frustrated by the direction Starmer is taking the party”.
But while there is “no escaping the fact” that a new party would create “some organisational and presentational difficulties for Starmer”, the current Labour leader could have far more to gain from such a split than lose, said Tom Harris in The Telegraph.
Starmer needs to show that his “promise of a zero tolerance approach to anti-Semitism is being honoured”, he continued. If Corbyn stands as an independent with his own mandate, then “Starmer can legitimately disown all responsibility for his presence”.
There is “little common ground between centrist Labour and Corbyn’s hard Left”, he added. “Such a split should, by rights, have happened long before now.”
If Corbyn cuts ties with Labour it is likely that “the absolute summit of his ambition would be to keep his own seat”, said Philip Collins in the Evening Standard.
“There is no hope that his venture could be the breakthrough left-wing party that his supporters believe the country needs,” he continued, and “in a way, this is a shame.
“There is a significant minority of people who would prefer a party that occupies a place to the left of the Labour party,” he added.
“In a proportional electoral system such a party might have a chance of winning a few seats. Under our current arrangements, that party has no hope at all.”