Labour step back from the brink by dropping charges against Margaret Hodge

The decision will ease the immediate risk of a party split. 

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Labour has ended its disciplinary investigation into Margaret Hodge, in a move that will go some way to ending Labour’s rolling crisis over anti-Semitism and decreases the prospects of an immediate split.

Hodge, who has been the MP for Barking since 1994, was placed under investigation after calling Jeremy Corbyn “an anti-Semite and racist” following Labour’s decision not to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Association definition of anti-Semitism in full.

That decision divided Corbyn’s inner circle and put Labour on direct course for a split, with not only Hodge but other MPs poised to quit the party had disciplinary measures been brought to bear against her.

Who has backed down? Labour briefed that Hodge “expressed regret” at how she expressed herself, but Hodge has taken to Twitter to say there were “no apologies, on either side”.

Credit for ending the row is being given to Jennie Formby, the party’s general secretary, who has just returned from holiday and as general secretary is empowered to act unilaterally if she wishes. (Both the leader’s office and Corbynites on the party’s ruling national executive committee were divided on how best to proceed.)

Whatever happens, and whatever the story behind the decision to end disciplinary proceedings against Hodge, the immediate upshot is that Labour will make it to the end of August in one piece.  

Stephen Bush is political editor of the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics. He also co-hosts the New Statesman podcast.

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