Dame Louise Ellman quits the Labour Party
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Dame Louise Ellman quits the Labour Party

Veteran Jewish MP says she can 'no longer advocate voting Labour when it risks Corbyn becoming PM'

Dame Louise Ellman
Dame Louise Ellman

Veteran Jewish MP Dame Louise Ellman has resigned her membership of the Labour Party after 55 years.

The Liverpool Riverside MP quit on Wednesday evening, taking to Twitter to post a statement, which said leader Jeremy Corbyn is “not fit to stand as our Prime Minister”.

Labour said it would “continue to take robust action to root out antisemitism in the party and wider society”.

Dame Louise, an MP since 1997, said she would not join another political party and hoped to return to Labour under a different leadership.

She said: “I have made the truly agonising decision to leave the Labour Party after 55 years.

“I can no longer advocate voting Labour when it risks Corbyn becoming PM.

“I believe that Jeremy Corbyn is not fit to serve as our Prime Minister. With a looming general election and the possibility of him becoming Prime Minister, I feel I have to take a stand.”

The MP had been due this week to face so-called “trigger” ballots which had the potential to lead to her deselection as a candidate at the next election.

On antisemitism, she added: “Under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, antisemitism has become mainstream in the Labour Party. Jewish members have been bullied, abused and driven out.

“The Labour Party is no longer a safe place for Jews and Jeremy Corbyn must bear the responsibility for this.”

Dame Louise’s resignation follows that of Liverpool Wavertree MP Luciana Berger who left the party earlier this year in protest over its handling of antisemitism allegations. After joining the Change UK – Independent Group, she has since switched to the Liberal Democrats, over their stance against Brexit.

On Wednesday, a Survation poll commissioned by the Liberal Democrats revealed that Luciana is on course to win 41 percent of the vote in Finchley and Golders Green if an election were to happen tomorrow.

Mike Katz, chairman of the Jewish Labour Movement, claimed Dame Louise has been “bullied and hounded out of her party”.

“She’s the second female Jewish MP to be hounded out of the Labour Party.

“What clearer signal can there be that, as Dame Louise says, Labour is currently not a safe space for Jews.

“This is a day of great shame for the Labour Party.”

Dame Margaret Hodge, who has also been a vocal critic of the Labour leader took to Twitter to say: “Absolutely devastated that @LouiseEllman feels that she no longer has a place in the Labour Party. Louise has given decades of her life to public service & having known her for nearly forty years I am proud to call her a close friend. This is a huge loss to the Labour Party.”

Stoke-on-Trent North MP Ruth Smeeth said the Labour Party should be “ashamed” that anti-Jewish “hate and abuse” is happening on their watch. She called Dame Louise an “inspiration”, and said she had lost an “ally and a friend”.

Posting on Twitter, she added: “There is no excuse, no explanation, no justification for the anti-Jewish hate and abuse that she has suffered. The leadership of the Labour Party should be ashamed that this is happening on their watch. I am truly disgusted.”

She said “another Jewish woman has been hounded out of our party”.

Jennifer Gerber, director of Labour Friends of Israel, which Ellman chairs, said: “Louise Ellman has taken a characteristically brave and principled decision today. It highlights once again the institutional antisemitism which continues to shame the Labour Party and Jeremy Corbyn’s responsibility for it. His abhorrent record and the appeal he appears to hold to anti-Jewish racists shows why so many British Jews understandably fear him becoming Prime Minister.”

President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews Marie van der Zyl said: “This is a damning indictment of Labour. Louise Ellman has been a devoted member of the party for over a half a century. With yet another Jewish MP resigning from Labour over antisemitism, the party’s leadership needs to look no further than the mirror to see the ugly truth about the spread of this prejudice.”

The chair of the Jewish Leadership Council, Jonathan Goldstein, paid tribute to the veteran politician who “served her party, her constituency and her community with grit and grace throughout her career.”

“those who have forced her to leave have many questions to answer. Those who have stayed silent or have at best offered pithy language and no action have many questions to answer too. Enough is enough.”

Read her statement in full below:

“I have this evening resigned from the Labour Party. I have been a member for 55 years and a public representative in local and central government continuously since 1970. My decision has been truly agonising, as it has been for the thousands of other party members who have already left.

“I will not join any other party. I hope that under different leadership I will be able to return to my political home. I would like to thank the overwhelming majority of Labour MPs who have fought Labour’s antisemitism valiantly and the Co-operative Party who have taken a firm and unequivocal stance against this racism. I would also like to applaud the integrity of those local members who have continued to speak out.

“I believe that Jeremy Corbyn is not fit to serve as our Prime Mimster. With a looming general election and the possibility of him becoming Prime Minister, I feel I have to take a stand. I cannot advocate a government led by Jeremy Corbyn.

“Under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, antisemitism has become mainstream in the Labour Party. Jewish members have been bullied, abused and driven out. Antisemites have felt comfortable and vile conspiracy theories have been propagated. A party that permits anti-Jewish racism to flourish cannot be called anti-racist.

“This is not compatible with the Labour Party’s values of equality, tolerance and respect for minorities. Shamefully, its anti-Jewish racism is now being investigated by one of the last labour government’s proudest creations, the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

“Jeremy Corbyn – who spent three decades on the backbenches consorting with, and never confronting, antisemites, Holocaust deniers and terrorists – has attracted the support of too many antisemites.

“The Labour Party is no longer a safe place for Jews and Jeremy Corbyn must bear the responsibility for this. We cannot allow him to do to the country what he has done to the Labour Party.

“The overwhelming majority of the Jewish community is fearful of what a Corbyn government might mean for Britain’s Jews. I share those concerns. But this issue is not simply about the Jewish community. This is about the nature of our society. Jeremy Corbyn’s seeming tolerance of antisemitism would embolden racists, poison our public debate and damage the social cohesion of our country.

“My values – traditional Labour values – have remained the same. It is Labour, under Jeremy Corbyn, that has changed. He has presided over a culture of hatred, fear and intolerance in the Labour Party.

“But this issue is no longer just about the Labour Party – it is about the threat a Jeremy Corbyn premiership could pose to the country.”

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