Russia’s Invasion Of Ukraine Opens Old Divisions In Labour

Felix Hawes

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has been met with condemnation from across the political divide, from Reform UK to the Conservatives, to the SNP to the Liberal Democrats, to Labour and the Greens. However, Impact’s Felix looks deeper into the Labour Party’s response. 

Who was responsible for the war has reopened divides in the Labour Party. Eleven Labour MPs, plus the suspended former Labour MPs Claudia Webbe and Jeremy Corbyn, signed a letter for Stop the War Coalition, which suggested that it was NATO’s ‘aggression’ that resulted in tensions in the region. 

“you can be a mouthpiece for the Kremlin or a Labour MP. You can’t be both”

It has been reported that the MPs were told that unless they removed their name from the letter, they would have the whip removed. All later did. Jeremy Corbyn’s name is still on the letter.

According to a Labour source: “you can be a mouthpiece for the Kremlin or a Labour MP. You can’t be both”

Two weeks ago, at a Stop the War Coalition meeting, where Jeremy Corbyn was a speaker, John McDonnel was informed that if he attended the no-press-allowed gathering, he would have the whip removed. McDonnel pulled out.  

Leaflets were given at the meeting that accused President Zelensky of supporting Neo-Nazis and a person carrying Ukraine’s flag was removed from the meeting after shouting “shame on you” to the panel that included Corbyn.  

Dianne Abbot, one of the signatures of the original Stop the War Statement, has pointed out that threat of whip removal for supporting Stop the War is something that the group have not faced before, including under Tony Blair, who led the UK into the wars that the group was founded to oppose in Afghanistan and Iraq. 

Starmer and Corbyn were previously at loggerheads over Russia

Keir Starmer has reiterated that the Labour Party is the party for NATO. It was a Labour government under Clement Attlee that helped found NATO in 1949. Jeremy Corbyn and many in his former shadow cabinet oppose the UK’s membership of NATO. 

Starmer and Corbyn were previously at loggerheads over Russia when Corbyn was leader of the party, when Corbyn refused to condemn Putin for the attempted Russian-state sponsored murder of Sergei Skirpal whilst Starmer accepted the British secret services’ findings.  

Corbyn has condemned Putin since the invasion of Russia. 

Felix Hawes

Featured image courtesy of Markus Spiske via Unsplash. Image licence found here. No changes were made to this image.

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