Dame Margaret Hodge: I’ll ‘fight tooth and nail’ against disciplinary action

Dame Margaret Hodge: I’ll ‘fight tooth and nail’ against disciplinary action

Veteran Jewish Labour MP vows to confront her party's attempts to discipline her, after she called Jeremy Corbyn 'an anti-Semite and a racist'

Dame Margaret Hodge

Photo credit: Yui Mok/PA Wire
Dame Margaret Hodge Photo credit: Yui Mok/PA Wire

Labour veteran Dame Margaret Hodge has called on Jeremy Corbyn to drop disciplinary action against her for confronting “anti-Semitic” leadership decisions.

Dame Margaret, who is a secular Jew, is under investigation for allegedly calling Mr Corbyn an anti-Semite and a racist after a decision to fudge the internationally recognised definition of anti-Semitism in a new code of conduct.

Ian Austin, whose adoptive parents were Czech Jewish refugees who lost relatives in the Holocaust, is also under investigation for clashes over the decision.

Dame Margaret, the Egyptian-born child of Jewish refugees, who lost relatives at Auschwitz, said she will “fight tooth and nail” against the threat of action and angrily highlighted how investigations into anti-Semitism complaints were still outstanding.

She said: “All of us feel our identity and values are being challenged by this sudden surge in anti-Semitism, which is not only allowed by the leadership but I have now come to the conclusion may also be views held by the leadership themselves.

“I do think they are digging themselves into a hole and the only way out of that is by adopting immediately the internationally recognised definition of anti-Semitism, which is a red line for the Jewish community, and then I hope dropping the action against the two of us.

“He (Jeremy Corbyn) promised by July we would have brought to a conclusion many of the outstanding complaints of anti-Semitism.

“That has not happened, yet within 12 hours they were able to initiate proceedings against myself and Ian Austin.”

Dame Margaret said she had been defending Mr Corbyn “for years” but the “final straw” was his decision to change the definition of anti-Semitism. She said Mr Corbyn must adopt the code in full immediately.

“By that point, the Labour Party had so lost the trust of the Jewish community there was a deep arrogance to start with to think that we could play around with the definition,” she said.

“…There are other ways of getting where Jeremy wanted to get, which is protecting the right of all of us to be critical of the Israeli government, and yet not be anti-Semitic.

“He chose confrontation. What on Earth does a man do choosing confrontation rather than consensus? What does that say about his attitude to British Jews?”

Dame Margaret highlighted her own recent criticism of the Israeli government’s decision to strip Palestinians of civil rights and suggested a working group could be set up to make sure the right to criticise Israel was “properly embedded”.

“The way to tackle that is not to offend the Jewish community, to stick two fingers up and say, ‘I’m not going to do what you want’,” she said.

“I want to be able to criticise the Israeli government and some of their abhorrent actions – I want to be able to articulate that.”

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