Jeremy Corbyn
The Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn faced a media scrum when he attended a Christmas fundraiser for the Stop The War group Reuters

Former Labour leader Ed Miliband has criticised his party for placing "an excessive focus" on Jeremy Corbyn's links to the Stop the War coalition. The MP for Doncaster North hinted at a witch hunt by members of the Labour Party as members exploited the leader's links to the anti-war protesters.

Miliband told the BBC that the party should be focused on other issues, including climate change and "taking the fight to the Conservatives" following its humiliating defeat in last May's general election. He said that as a party it should focus on "the country" and not Corbyn's speaking engagements.

Former Stop The War chairman Corbyn is expected to come under increasing pressure to step down from his membership of the protest group, after he refused to decline an invitation to attend a £50-a-head Christmas fundraising dinner for the organisation last night (11 December). Although Corbyn used a back entrance to the restaurant he was still greeted by a media scrum as he tried to enter the premises.

'Distance' needed from Stop The War

Labour Party MP Emma Reynolds has challenged Corbyn's membership of the group and stated that Stop The War's principles were "far away" from the principles of the Labour Party and called for Corbyn to "distance himself" from the organisation.The Labour leader – a life-long pacifist and peace campaigner – has called the anti-war group one of the "most important demographic campaigns of modern times" and said that it had been right to speak out against a "disastrous decade of wars" in conflicts including Afghanistan and Iraq.

Stop The War has courted controversy when a blog posted by the organisation following the Paris terrorist atrocities, written on behalf of the Stop The War coalition said that the French city had "reaped the whirlwind of western support for extremist violence in the Middle East". The blog post was subsequently removed.

Stop the War was founded on 21 September 2001, just days after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York that lead to the invasion of both Iraq and Afghanistan by US-led coalitions. The group was established to oppose the "War on Terror".

It was primarily responsible for organising the 2003 march which saw one million people march through London to protest the invasion of Iraq, which was ignored by the then Blairite government.

Lucas quit in November

This week it was reported that Green Party MP Caroline Lucas had stepped down from her role as patron of the anti-war group. Writing in the Independent on 11 December, Lucas said she left her role in November 2015. She wrote that she did not publicly announce her decision because she "did not want to cause damage to an organisation with whom I have worked productively for over a decade, and which has played a vital role in the peace movement."

Lucas said her decision was the "responsible thing to do" because she disagreed with some of Stop The War's positions and could not fully engage in the coalition's decision-making processes.