Labour under Keir Starmer ‘turning its back on hope’, Jeremy Corbyn says

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The former leader addressed  a Young Labour rally  (AP)
The former leader addressed a Young Labour rally (AP)

Jeremy Corbyn has accused Sir Keir Starmer of giving the Conservative government a “free pass time and again”, as he also criticised the leadership for “turning its back” on “hope for the future”.

The remarks from the former Labour leader come amid a dramatic fallout between Sir Keir and the left over controversial changes to the party’s rule book that were branded “undemocratic” and risked “civil war” in the party.

On the first day of the party’s annual conference, Sir Keir was forced to water down his proposed reforms and, crucially, abandon plans to ditch the “one member, one vote” system used in leadership elections since 2014.

At a Young Labour rally Mr Corbyn, who stood down as leader last year following the disastrous general election result, told those in attendance: “You are a generation that won’t just put up with what you’re given – insecurity, a dying planet and grotesque inequality.

“You know that you don’t have to live without power or hope,” he added. “When we come together, we know that things can and they will change.”

However, he went on: “Our party’s leadership seems to be turning its back on that hope for a more equal, democratic and sustainable future.”

Taking aim at Sir Keir, the former leader said: “In the last leadership election, our members and unions were promised unity, but instead we are given division.

“We were promised 10 pledges – and where are they? We were promised effective opposition, but instead the Tories have been given a free pass time and again.”

Referring to Sir Keir’s attempt to push through controversial rule changes, including the return of the electoral college system of electing new party leaders, Mr Corbyn added: “Empowerment was promised in our movement, not stitching up the rules for future leadership elections to prevent the Labour Party truly standing for the many, not the few.”

His remarks came after the Labour leadership retreated on the proposal amid an intense backlash, but put forward a series of revised changes, which were accepted by the National Executive Committee (NEC) on Saturday.

The measures, which include a plan to raise the threshold of MPs’ nominations to 20 per cent for leadership elections (from 10 per cent), will now be debated and voted on at Labour’s conference in Brighton.

Sir Keir also wants members to have been signed up for six months to be allowed to vote in a future leadership contest, while the “registered supporters” scheme, which allowed people to pay to vote in the 2020 contest, would be dropped.

But Mr Corbyn added in his address: “The electoral college plan may have been defeated for now but we have seen the leadership’s true colours.

“There is another way forward, for the Labour Party and Britain, that is based in peace and justice, in the policies the majority of people actually want, not what the establishment and its media mouthpieces insist they should want. If our leadership won’t champion that path, our movement must and will.”

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