McCluskey accuses Starmer of reneging on pledge to reinstate Corbyn

Ken McCluskey, former Unite boss

JVL Introduction

Alex Nunns, (who wrote the book “The Candidate” about Corbyn’s leadership campaign – published in 2017 –  has posted  interesting tweets about the deal McCluskey writes about in his memoirs to reinstate Jeremy Corbyn and restore the whip to him.,.

Nunns makes the point that there is no denial from the Labour leadership of the accuracy of what McCluskey cites but a rather different interpretation.  How would you interpret this?

This article was originally published by The Guardian on Mon 13 Sep 2021. Read the original here.

McCluskey accuses Starmer of reneging on pledge to reinstate Corbyn

Exclusive: former Unite boss reveals first detailed recollection of talks to readmit Corbyn to Labour and restore whip

Len McCluskey has revealed for the first time his detailed recollection of negotiations with Keir Starmer to readmit Jeremy Corbyn to the Labour party, and accused the leader of reneging on private promises.

The former Unite general secretary, who stepped down last month, said Starmer “risks becoming fixed in the public’s mind as someone who can’t be trusted”. Writing in the Guardian, he gives an account of the private conversations – a section redacted in review copies of his memoir, Always Red, because of its sensitivity.

Key Labour sources close to the negotiations have hit back at McCluskey’s version of events, giving clarification for the first time. They denied there was a backroom deal to readmit Corbyn, who was suspended for a statement he made in October 2020 following the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) report into antisemitism in the party during his leadership.

They told the Guardian that the disparity occurred because Corbyn refused to delete his original statement. One senior figure claimed the national executive committee (NEC) had asked and expected the former leader to do so.

“Len cannot acknowledge that even he could not get Jeremy to apologise or retract his original statement,” one senior figure said.

In his original response to the EHRC report, which found serious failings, Corbyn acknowledged that “one antisemite is one too many”, but said the problem was “dramatically overstated for political reasons” by opponents and the media.

McCluskey claims Starmer then personally ordered the suspension of the former leader from the party – a move that would go against the equalities watchdog’s ruling that there should be no political interference in disciplinary matters.

He also claims Starmer reneged on an agreement to readmit Corbyn after a new statement was issued. Though the party’s ruling body restored the former leader’s membership, Starmer has not reinstated the Labour whip.

In his Guardian piece, McCluskey says he recalled the words Starmer used when he called to tell him about Corbyn’s suspension. “His words were: ‘He put me in an impossible position and I had no choice’ … He told me on the phone that Corbyn had deliberately undermined him. ‘It’s as if he’s gone out of his way to contradict that line in my speech,’ he said. ‘I’m beyond angry with Jeremy.’”

Corbyn congratulates Starmer at previous Labour conference

Labour sources denied those words were tantamount to an admission that Starmer had ordered the suspension.

Those close to the situation in the leader’s office say the party’s head of legal gave the general secretary, David Evans, his view that the EHRC’s conclusions meant Corbyn had to be suspended and Evans agreed. Starmer was in the room at the time.

“Keir could not have ordered the suspension. He had been briefed multiple times by the EHRC about the implications of this report – he took it extremely seriously,” one senior aide said.

The day after the decision, McCluskey and the MP Jon Trickett met Starmer, his then chief of staff, Morgan McSweeney, and the deputy leader, Angela Rayner.

“Rayner began by requesting our discussion be confidential. Given what happened subsequently, I no longer feel bound by that,” McCluskey said. “Trickett and I asked if there was a way to negotiate a settlement to avoid an internal war. Starmer replied that he didn’t want a war and was happy to talk about ways to reach a solution.

“He indicated that a clarification statement by Corbyn could be a way of resolving the issue. ‘Are you saying that if we could reach an agreed form of words that both Jeremy and you, Keir, are happy with, then the suspension could be lifted?’ I asked. ‘Yes,’ Starmer said. The others also agreed.”

McCluskey claimed that Trickett and Starmer’s senior adviser, Simon Fletcher, had worked up a draft statement that was discussed in a conference call with McSweeney. “I said: ‘As far as we are concerned, it is our expectation that if Jeremy agrees to the statement, then that is the end of the matter and the suspension will be lifted, after due process, and Jeremy will be back to normal.’

“McSweeney’s response was: ‘Yes, that is our expectation, also.’ ‘And you speak on behalf of Keir?’ I asked. ‘Yes,’ came his reply.”

McCluskey said he was “so confident that I have submitted it for use in Jeremy Corbyn’s legal challenge to the withdrawal of the whip and will stand by it in court”. Labour said there was no current legal challenge pending to the withdrawal of the whip.

Senior figures close to Starmer said Corbyn’s allies were advised that it was their expectation, based on precedent, that the former leader would be readmitted with a warning, but claim that was not a promise to stitch up the process, only a way of encouraging him to retract and apologise.

“There was, categorically, no deal on reinstatement, only a discussion of what we expected to happen,” the source said. “McCluskey demanded a number of things that would have overruled the whole process and we said no.”

The source said Starmer would have welcomed the statement had it been issued over the weekend, but claimed McCluskey was unable to sign it off with Corbyn because he had gone to the Isle of Wight.

Corbyn published his statement several weeks later ahead of the disciplinary hearing. It said: “To be clear, concerns about antisemitism are neither ‘exaggerated’ nor ‘overstated’ … The point I wished to make was that the vast majority of Labour party members were and remain committed antiracists deeply opposed to antisemitism.”

Later that day, a five-person panel at the NEC advised that his suspension could be lifted with a warning.

“I don’t know if Starmer was taken by surprise by the backlash, but it soon became clear he was going to crumble,” McCluskey said. “Starmer reneged on our deal … Corbyn was now told that if he wanted the whip restored, he would have to make an apology – which prompted the question: if an apology was so important to the leadership, why didn’t they include one in the statement they co-wrote?”

Sources close to Starmer say the sticking point remains that Corbyn did not retract his original statement, which remains online.

“Jeremy knows what he needs to do – and it is still unclear why he does not delete the original statement,” one senior figure said. “If that does not happen, it is hard to make the argument that you regret it. He could just press delete. The ball is in his court.”

Comments (14)

  • Dave says:

    Given that Starmer has abandoned any pretence of acting on his pledges when he was pitching for leader and given the ongoing witch hunt and the stance of the front bench, the story about what happened with Corbyn is a minor sideshow that we knew anyway.

  • John Noble says:

    Starmer’s camp know in what spirit Jeremy Corbyn made that statement and they want to humiliate him, my advice to JC, should anyone ever ask, would be, tough it out.

  • MAX COOK says:

    Jeremy has done nothing wrong, his words were measured and LEGAL according to the EHRC conclusions, the reasons why the whip won’t be reinstalled under Keith Scammer is because if Jeremy stood against Scammer in a leadership election jer would WIN hands down

  • Stephen Flaherty says:

    It’s hard to know what’s worse. That Starmer refused to reinstate the whip because of Corbyn’s statement (even after the explanation), or that he agreed to do so and then immediately caved under pressure, reneging on an agreement. Either should disqualify him as a leader, IMHO.

    As has been pointed out, the first breeches the EHRC rulings at least twice in that 1) the EHRC specifically said that arguing against the scale or incidence of antisemitism was NOT antisemitism; 2) They also specifically ruled that political interference in disciplinary matters is forbidden, which was clearly violated here. They also said something about Free Speech and MPs right to comment on important matters, but it’s a while since I read it so I can’t say if this specifically applies here.

    The second, though… that shows him to be weak and ineffective, a man in thrall to those around him, unable to make (or, at least, stick to) his own decisions. Which means that those around him – David Evans and so forth – have far too much power.

    This, unfortunately, matches all too well the man we’ve seen since he became leader. And it’s been noticed by the public. Labour’s dismal by-election performance is in large part due to the public’s (correct) perception of Starmer as a man without substance.

    It’s all really depressing. And we have nowhere else to go (to paraphrase Healey and Mandelson)

  • Jack T says:

    It’s got to the stage where many of us don’t trust any of them, Starmer, McCluskey or even Jeremy Corbyn. They have renaged on the faith placed in them by the membership. The only people who CAN be trusted are those who were expelled/suspended as a result of the previous three and others not showing solidarity when required.

  • Richard Hobson says:

    I’d recommend everyone also reads McCluskey’s original piece in the Guardian. I can see no reason for him to lie.

  • Teresa Grover says:

    Frankly I do not trust any of the Right wing in Labour, Starmer ,Evans & certain MPs have destroyed a Labour we once voted for.
    Starmer as Leader has in my personal view brought in too much loyality for Zionist Israel, leaving people of all beliefs out in the cold. All the suspensions, expelling long life members for weird reasons, reminds me of McNicoll, who at the start when Mr.Corbyn was elected Labour Leader the first time started a hate campaign against Mr.Corbyn.
    I sensed another agenda then, & its got worse the 2nd time he was elected suspensions & expulsions for the strangest of reasons happened then!
    This was a planned agenda, not to allow Mr.Corbyn as Labour Leader, the shock of his popularity & huge membership increase spoilt those plans. As for ignoring the JVL I found THAT offensive because it proved the clock was being pushed back to Blair, & Mandleson & welcoming back certain MPs who lied, campaigned against Mr.Corbyn put the nail in the coffin of the Labour we wanted, these people preferred to destroy the party for purely politicaly Right wing reasons & ANYONE who supported Human Rights, or Palestine or Mr.Corbyn has been verbally smeared, suspended or expelled.
    ENOUGH IS ENOUGH This is NO LONGER LABOUR but an off shoot of something from abroad. I cannot be a party to lies, smears & allegations against innocent people.

  • Dave Postles says:

    ‘We find that the Labour Party has failed to address antisemitism within the Party in a way that demonstrates its stated commitment to zero tolerance, or that ensures all Jewish members feel welcome and can be confident that
    antisemitism will be dealt with effectively. ‘ (EHRC Report) Labour Party has contravened this section. Left Jews have been harassed since the Report. The EHRC has failed, contrary to its obligations and commitment, to monitor this situation.

  • John Bowley says:

    Jeremy Corbyn said nothing wrong or untrue. It is a fact that antisemitism within the Labour Party allegations were grossly exaggerated. Many of the allegations of antisemitism were typically about valid criticisms of the racist government of the State of Israel, falsely re-presented as if antisemetic.

    The EHRC investigation into antisemitism in the Labour Party was an anti-socialist political stitch-up which was encouraged and manipulated by the right-wing establishment of the Party. The EHRC investigation was narrow, shallow and biased. The EHRC report is actually wrong in many ways.

    The McCluskey account of Jeremy Corbyn’s agreed full reinstatrmrnt, after not doing anything wrong and breaking no rules, which was followed by reneging upon it, seem very factual. It is in the pattern of what happened to other socialists who have been maltreated by a corrupt Labour Party.

  • Allan Howard says:

    So the ‘sources close to Starmer’ want Jeremy to delete the truth – ie a fact, and the actuality – which Starmer and his ‘sources’ KNOW is a fact and the actuality, AND, they know Jeremy is HIGHLY unlikely to do.

    Yep, they want him to delete the truth! Says it all really!!

    PS I wonder if they use the term ‘snookered’ when they have a good laugh about the position they’ve put Jeremy in (as in ‘he’s well and truly SNOOKERED!’). What it amounts to – and only incredibly devious minds could come up with such a ploy/stratagem – is using Jeremy’s integrity against him. Evil, just PURE evil!

  • Allan Howard says:

    Jack said; ‘It’s got to the stage where many of us don’t trust any of them, Starmer, McCluskey or even Jeremy Corbyn.’

    Many of us, Jack?! McCluskey and Corbyn? I don’t believe you! THAT is a classic shill tactic so as to have people believe there is a consensus of opinion (that Jeremy and Len can’t be trusted), and I have to say that it is very disheartening to see JVL post such a blatant piece of anti-left – ie anti Jeremy Corbyn – black propaganda. I mean haven’t you picked up on the fact that Jack T has made this fraudulent claim about Jeremy not standing up for people suspended or expelled on JVL on numerous occasions – and on Skwawkbox on scores of occasions – and his usual line is that Jeremy has thrown good ‘comrades’ under the bus, and Jack OFTEN cites Chris Williamson for good measure.

    Yes, this appears to be the latest ‘development’ by the shills – ie start associating Jeremy Corbyn (and Len McCluskey) with the despised – by the left – Starmer.

    I wonder how long the shills are going to keep repeating their falsehoods about Jeremy not standing up for people and throwing people under the bus and appeasing his enemies etc, etc! AND falsely criticising the SCG etc every-which-way they can think of. If JVL can’t see what the agenda is then I really do despair, when it is SO blatantly obvious!

    Clue: The PTB know of course that their Black propaganda machine the MSM is ineffective when it comes to the left…….

  • Allan Howard says:

    Just after I posted my last comment (about Jack T fraudulently claiming that ‘many of us don’t trust….even Jeremy Corbyn’), I went on to Skwawkbox for the first time today to see if any new articles had been posted, and there were three new articles posted, and in the first one I clicked on entitled ‘Labour Left 4 Socialism launches manifesto….’, a poster – a regular poster – said the following:

    ‘There was a pecking order on Saturday’s demo against the arms fair in Liverpool with Jeremy Corbyn refusing to share a platform with Chris Williamson who told me that he wasn’t allowed to speak….’

    And this is the SECOND time the poster in question has posted such in the past few days. Anyway, so I then checked out Chris’ twitter page, and he mentioned the demo in several tweets, but he DIDN’T say a dicky-bird about not being allowed to speak OR Jeremy refusing to share a platform with him, which one would have thought he WOULD have done if THAT was the case – ie one or the other or both.

    So I just did a search to see if I could find an email address for Chris so that I can email him and ask him if it’s true (that he wasn’t allowed to speak – and said that to someone at the demo – and that Jeremy refused to share a platform with him), but couldn’t find one. The rather odd thing is that the poster in question DIDN’T mention in his initial post (in a thread entitled ‘Baseball-capped police detailed to film speakers at Liverpool anti-weapons fair protest’ five days ago) that Chris spoke to him etc:

    ‘Meanwhile back in Liverpool…. there are more important questions to ask such as why wasn’t Chris Williamson given a platform to speak on the bus….. It would seem that Jeremy is not keen to be associated with his old friend Chris.’


  • Allan Howard says:

    Jack knows EXACTLY how the MSM and the Jewish newspapers and the JLM and CAA and BoD et al would have reacted if Jeremy had shown solidarity with anyone that THEY – the JLM et al – were accusing – along with bucket-loads of faux outrage – of anti-semitism!

  • Doug says:

    Certainly make JC President for Life
    The party has to make a quantum leap to meet the needs of our younger and more progressive supporters
    The demographics all bode well for the future, so let’s see a challenger step forward who represents that hope for a better world

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