Len McCluskey has revealed for the first time his detailed recollection of negotiations with Keir Starmer to readmit Jeremy Corbyn to the Labor party, and accused the leader of not accepting private promises.
The former general secretary of Unite, who resigned last month, said Starmer risks being fixed in the public mind as someone he can not trust. Writing in the Guardian, he gives an account of private conversations an edited part in copies of his memoir, Always Red, because of his sensitivity.
Leading Labor sources close to the negotiations have opposed the McCluskeys version of events, giving clarifications for the first time. They denied there was a secret deal to readmit Corbyn, who was suspended for a statement he made in October 2020 following the EHRC’s report on anti-Semitism in the party during his leadership.
They told the Guardian that the inequality occurred because Corbyn refused to delete his original statement. A senior figure claimed that the National Executive Committee (NEC) had asked and expected the former leader to do so.
Len can not admit that neither he nor he can force Jeremy to apologize or withdraw his original statement, said a senior figure.
In his original response to the EHRC report, which found serious failures, Corbyn acknowledged that an anti-Semitic is a lot, but said the problem had been dramatically overestimated for political reasons by opponents and the media.
McCluskey claims that Starmer then personally ordered the suspension of the former leader from the party, an action that would go against the equality guards who decided that there should be no political interference in disciplinary matters.
He also claims that Starmer dropped a deal to readmit Corbyn following a new statement. Although the governing body of the parties restored the membership of the former leaders, Starmer has not restored the whip of Labor.
In his Guardian article, McCluskey says he recalled the words Starmer used when he called to tell him about the Corbyns 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. Just as if he has gone out of his way to oppose that line in my speech, he said. I’m very angry with Jeremy.
Labor sources denied that these words were tantamount to an admission that Starmer had ordered the suspension.
Those close to the situation in the executive office say the legal party leader gave Secretary-General David Evans his opinion that the EHRCs’ conclusions meant Corbyn should be suspended, and Evans agreed. Starmer was in the room at the time.
Keir could not have ordered the suspension. He had been informed many times by the EHRC about the implications of this report, he took it extremely seriously, said a senior aide.
A day after the decision, McCluskey and MP Jon Trickett met with Starmer, then-Chief of Staff Morgan McSweeney, and Vice President Angela Rayner.
Rayner began by requesting that our discussion be confidential. Given what happened next, I no longer feel connected to this, McCluskey said. Trickett and I asked if there was a way to negotiate a solution to avoid a civil war. Starmer replied that he did not want a fight and was happy to talk about ways to reach a solution.
He indicated that an explanatory statement from Corbyn could be one way to resolve the issue. Are you saying that if we can come up with an agreed form of words that Jeremy and you, Keir, are happy with, then the suspension can be lifted? I asked. Yes, said Starmer. The others agreed.
McCluskey claimed that Trickett and Starmers senior adviser Simon Fletcher had drafted a statement that was discussed at a conference with McSweeney. I said: As for us, it is our expectation that if Jeremy agrees with the statement, then this is the end of the matter and the suspension will be lifted, after due process, and Jeremy will return to normal.
McSweeneys’s response was: Yes, that’s our expectation, too. And you speak on behalf of Keir? I asked. Yes, his answer came.
McCluskey said he was so confident I submitted it for use in Jeremy Corbyns’ legal challenge to whipping and I will stand by him in court. Labor said there was no current legal challenge pending whip withdrawal.
Senior figures close to Starmer said Corbyns allies were advised that it was their precedent-based expectation that the former leader would be readmitted with a warning, but claim it was not a promise to embed the process, just a way to encourage it. him to withdraw and apologize.
There was, categorically, no agreement on returning to work, just a discussion of what we expected to happen, the source said. McCluskey asked for a number of things that would have turned the whole process upside down and we said no.
The source said Starmer would have welcomed the statement if it had been released over the weekend, but claimed McCluskey was unable to sign him with Corbyn because he had gone to the Isle of Wight.
Corbyn released his statement a few weeks before the disciplinary hearing. It said: To be clear, concerns about anti-Semitism are neither exaggerated nor exaggerated. The point I wanted to make was that the vast majority of Labor Party members were and remained anti-racists deeply committed to anti-Semitism.
Later that day, a five-member panel at the NEC advised that his suspension be lifted with a warning.
I do not know if Starmer was surprised by the harsh reaction, but it soon became clear that he would crumble, McCluskey said. Starmer did not accept our deal Corbyn had now been told that if he wanted the whip to be returned, he would have to apologize which raised the question: if an apology was so important to the leadership, why not include it in the statement that they cooperated. wrote?
Sources close to Starmer say the sticking point remains that Corbyn did not withdraw his original statement, which remains online.
Jeremy knows what to do and it is still unclear why he does not delete the original statement, said a senior figure. If this does not happen, it is difficult to argue that you have repented. He can just press delete. The ball is in his court.
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