Ex-Labour leader Corbyn to stand as independent in UK election

Ex-Labour leader Corbyn to stand as independent in UK election
Ex-Labour leader Corbyn to stand as independent in UK election

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - Former Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn (centre) joins pro-Palestinian supporters preparing to march through central London, on May 18, 2024, at a demonstration to commemorate the 76th anniversary of the Nakba and call for an end to arms sales to Israel. — AFP pic

LONDON, May 24 — Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn announced today he would stand in the UK general election as an independent candidate, after the party suspended him following a drawn-out anti-Semitism scandal.

Corbyn, 74, who has represented the London constituency of Islington North for more than 40 years, said he would contest the seat to be “an independent voice for equality, democracy and peace”.

The veteran left-winger, who led the main opposition Labour party into the last election in 2019 but stepped down as leader after overseeing its worst results in decades, has been sitting as an independent MP since 2020.

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The party suspended him after he refused to fully accept the findings of a rights watchdog’s probe into claims that anti-Semitism became rampant within Labour’s ranks under his leadership.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission ruled the party broke equality law when Corbyn was in charge.

He said anti-Semitism had been “dramatically overstated for political reasons”.

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In a video posted on X, Corbyn said his constituents had been “disempowered”.

“I believe in democracy. I want our political parties to be democratic but members of Islington North Labour have been denied the right to choose their own candidate,” he added.

“So we have to stand up and say we’re not taking this any more... That’s why I am standing to be an independent candidate for the people of Islington North.”

Islington North is a traditionally safe Labour seat and Corbyn’s move is unlikely to impact the overall election results.

But the decision is an unwelcome distraction for Labour, which is bidding to retake power for the first time since 2010.

It risks splitting the Labour vote in the constituency and allowing a rival party’s candidate to capture it.

Labour leader Keir Starmer, who says he has rid the party of anti-Semitism after it was dogged by damaging allegations during Corbyn’s tenure, said the decision to stand “was a matter for Jeremy”.

He insisted the party would field “an excellent candidate” in the seat.

Labour has shortlisted two people — a London Assembly member and an Islington councillor — to run in the constituency, which Corbyn won in 2019 with a majority of 26,188. — AFP

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