Labour pledges to proscribe IRGC as Tories shy away from ban

Yvette Cooper said the measure would form part of a new strategy around state threats


Jewish organisations have welcomed Labour’s pledge to proscribe the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organisation. 

Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper said if her party won power, it would introduce legislation to ban dangerous, state-sponsored organisations, which would include the IRGC and Russia’s Wagner group. 

Cooper said existing anti-terrorism legislation “didn’t fit” the dangers posed by emerging “hostile-state threats”.

The West Yorkshire MP said Labour in government would “swiftly” set up parallel laws known as a ‘Contest for State Threats’.

The Board of Deputies commended Cooper on the announcement, saying in a statement: “The far-reaching influence of the IRGC poses a significant threat to our community, to wider British society, and the people of Iran itself.”

Claudia Mendoza, co-CEO of the Jewish Leadership Council, said she remained “concerned by the threat posed by the IRGC”, adding:  “We are pleased that the Labour Party recognises the danger of its continued activity and welcome its pledge to proscribe it."

In a speech on Monday at the Royal United Services Institute, where she set out the party’s vision for national security, Cooper said: “As part of the strategy, Labour will bring forward new changes to legislation to allow the government to ban hostile state-sponsored organisations who undermine our national security. 

“So instead of trying and failing to use counter-terror legislation to proscribe organisations like Wagner or IRGC, we will introduce a bespoke proscribing mechanism to address state-sponsored threats.

“We will work with the security and intelligence agencies, public and private sector businesses, universities and partners here and abroad to ensure this strategy is fit, comprehensive, collaborative and fit for the challenges we face.”

Under Labour’s pledge, it would be a criminal offence to belong to the IRGC, attend its meetings or encourage support for it. 

The announcement has put pressure on Foreign Secretary James Cleverly, who has so far refused to commit to proscribing the group.

Instead, he announced a new sanctions regime which would supposedly give the UK greater powers to target Iranian "decision makers" responsible for hostile activities around the world.

The government fears a ban could cause the UK to lose its embassy in Tehran and put vital intelligence work at risk. 

Labour's announcement comes as Ken McCallum, the director-general of MI5, disclosed that ten IRGC plots in the UK had been foiled in the past year. The IRGC sends hit squads to assassinate dissidents on British soil.

Iran International TV also closed its London studios after state-backed threats, acting on advice from the Metropolitan Police. 

The Board of Deputies added: “We urge parliamentarians of all parties to continue to advocate for this important cause.”

Labour Friends of Israel Chair Michael Rubin said: "Labour is absolutely right to recognise the threat the IRGC poses to the Iranian people, the wider region and the UK.

"Sadly, by failing to immediately ban Iran's ideological army, the government - which took years to fully proscribe Hezbollah - has once again been caught asleep at the wheel. A Labour government under Keir Starmer will be unflinching in tackling Tehran’s malicious activities, both in Europe and the Middle East.”

Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive