Labour leadership wants to try to shut down debate, says Corbyn

Jeremy Corbyn made the comments ahead of Labour’s annual conference, which starts on Saturday.

Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn
Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn

Jeremy Corbyn has accused Sir Keir Starmer of trying “to shut down debate” ahead of the party’s annual conference, which starts this weekend.

Mr Corbyn, who still sits as an independent MP in the Commons after Sir Keir refused to reinstate the whip to the former party leader due to comments over antisemitism, will be attending the conference in Brighton.

The party previously confirmed he would be allowed to address fringe events.

But ahead of the event, which runs until Wednesday, Mr Corbyn said it appeared that under the current leadership “Labour props up rather than challenges our broken political and economic system”.

Starmer backs relaxing drugs laws
Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer (Jonathan Brady/PA)

A spokesperson for Mr Corbyn previously told the HuffPost that he would be attending in his capacity as “a prominent campaigner for peace and justice, including on the need to tackle climate change, lessons of 20 years of the War on Terror and in defence of workers’ rights”.

Mr Corbyn, who remains a Labour member, said: “At conference, I hope to hear how Labour will bring in a wealth tax to fund a National Care Service like the NHS, will take the radical action needed to decarbonise by 2030, stand against the drumbeat of a new Cold War, and will rein in the runaway wealth and power of a tiny elite.”

He said: “I know our trade unions and members have developed these policies, but the signs are that the party leadership wants to try to shut down debate, sideline the members and trade unions, with the end result that Labour props up rather than challenges our broken political and economic system.”

It comes as Sir Keir is expected to propose that the one member, one vote (OMOV) system which elects Labour’s leader would be replaced with a return to the electoral college made up of the unions and affiliate organisations, MPs and party members.

“Our rules as they are right now focus us inwards to spend too much time talking to and about ourselves, and they weaken the link with our unions,” Sir Keir said.

“These are two things that have got to change if we are serious about winning the next election.”

The Labour leader is understood to favour the three parts of the electoral college having an equal share of the vote.

The move to reduce the weight of members’ votes has sparked fury on the Labour left, with warnings of a new “civil war”.

Mr Corbyn said: “Conference is the most important event in the Labour Party’s calendar.

“It’s a time for our movement to come together to decide on our goals and priorities and it’s our best chance outside of an election to tell the people of Britain what we stand for and what we will do in government.

“We meet at a time of great change and crisis, perhaps larger than any other time in my 50-plus years of party membership.

“Our movement has the answers to the big questions of the age – inequality, the climate crisis and the pandemic – but our leaders are failing to listen and put these solutions front and centre.”

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