Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn attended the Stop the War (STW) Christmas party on Friday and declared his full support for the organisation, despite calls from several of his own MPs to distance himself from the group.
Former frontbenchers Tristram Hunt, Emma Reynolds and Caroline Flint had joined calls for Corbyn to cut ties with the group he helped found by dropping plans to attend the fundraising dinner in central London.
Corbyn entered the venue via a back entrance to avoid a small demonstration and journalists waiting outside.
Reynolds said this week the group’s leadership had demonstrated “abhorrent views” amid claims from a former member the organisation has "lost its moral compass" because of its stance on Syria, and since-deleted posts on its website in the wake of the Paris terror attacks criticising Western foreign policy.
When safely inside, Corbyn, who chaired STW until September, delivered a speech in defence of the organisation:
[Stop the War] has brought hundreds of thousands of people on to the streets time and again... It has organised protests and lobbies in every part of the country, including by military families. Most of all, it has been shown to be right in opposing more than a decade of disastrous wars – in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya – while many of its most vociferous critics supported them.
The anti-war movement has been a vital force at the heart of our democracy. Branding it as somehow illegitimate is an attempt to close down democratic debate and campaigning.
Caroline Lucas, the Green Party MP, stepped down as a patron of STW earlier this week after raising concerns about the group's statements in the wake of the Paris attacks and allegations that Syrians in favour of Western intervention to unseat Bashir al-Assad were not given an opportunity to speak at a STW meeting at Parliament last month.