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According to official figures from the party’s internal elections, Labour has lost members at a rate of almost 250 per day since Sir Keir Starmer replaced Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the party. Former shadow chancellor John McDonnell told Labour activist Owen Jones he believed the exodus amounts to a “ludicrous self-purge” as he urged members to “stick around”. He said: “I can’t come to terms with this. And I know some really wonderful people like my former private secretary who has just resigned.
“I’ve been trying to say it for a long time. From the left, we were worried that if the right took over then there would be a purge and we would be kick out.
“This is a self-purging that is going on. It’s ludicrous. It’s almost an act of self-harm.
“I’m trying to say to people stick around, because I think we can overcome the issue with regard to Jeremy, and the major battle will be around policy and the political direction of the party.
“That’s what we’ve got to gear up to.
“In some ways, the left is being really tested about ‘are we really serious?'”
Membership is believed to have fallen by just under 57,000 people (10 percent) between April and November.
The decision to prevent Jeremy Corbyn from sitting as a Labour MP in the Commons for three months is also believed to have contributed to a mass exodus this month, with many members taking to social media to announce they had quit the party.
Sir Keir’s move has also reignited the civil war on the opposition benches.
Shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds said a “politicised” disciplinary process had resulted in Mr Corbyn’s readmittance to the party after his suspension – imposed in the wake of a damning report into the handling of anti-Semitism in Labour – was lifted on Tuesday.
Labour leader Sir Keir said on Wednesday morning that he would not restore the whip, meaning Mr Corbyn will continue to sit as an independent MP and will not be part of the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP).
Former shadow home secretary Diane Abbott, an ally of Mr Corbyn, questioned whether Sir Keir would ever have been elected leader if members knew how he would act against his predecessor.
She said excluding Mr Corbyn was “wrong” and Sir Keir’s actions were “no way to unite the party”.
But prominent Jewish Labour MP Dame Margaret Hodge suggested she would have left the party if Mr Corbyn had been readmitted to the PLP and Sir Keir’s actions “did a lot to restore his credibility”.
Mr Corbyn was reinstated as a Labour member by the National Executive Committee following a meeting of a disciplinary panel, three weeks after he was suspended over his response to a scathing Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) report.
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The equalities watchdog has ordered Labour to establish an independent process to deal with anti-Semitism issues, rather than the system which dealt with Mr Corbyn’s case.
Ms Dodds said it was “a matter of huge regret”, adding: “We have to sort out that system, it cannot remain as a politicised system.”
Asked whether there could be a way to readmit Mr Corbyn to the PLP, she said Sir Keir had promised to keep the position “under review”.
Ms Abbott was one of more than 30 MPs and peers in the left-wing Socialist Campaign Group calling for Mr Corbyn to have the whip restored.
The group said: “The decision not to restore the whip to Jeremy Corbyn is wrong and damaging to the Labour Party.”
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