David Miliband: I will remain in Labour while Dame Margaret Hodge is member
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David Miliband: I will remain in Labour while Dame Margaret Hodge is member

Former foreign secretary said it's 'very painful' to hear antisemitism in the same sentence as the Labour Party, while giving the annual Sir Martin Gilbert Memorial lecture

David Miliband speaking during the Sir Martin Gilbert Memorial Lecture (Credit: ©️Jeremy Rosenberg)
David Miliband speaking during the Sir Martin Gilbert Memorial Lecture (Credit: ©️Jeremy Rosenberg)

Former MP David Miliband said he will remain in the Labour Party while Dame Margaret Hodge is still a member “fighting to uphold the best” of its tradition

The former foreign secretary discussed the row over antisemitism which has engulfed the party during a lecture on Thursday night held in memory of British historian Sir Martin Gilbert at Highgate Synagogue.

“Is it painful that the words Labour Party and antisemitism are in the same sentence, headline, paragraph, article? Yes it is. It’s very painful,” he said in response to a question from a member of the audience.

Miliband argued it was unquestionable Labour “has become a magnate for some people with absolutely repulsive views over the last three years,” adding that the party has not done enough to “root them out and make sure they never come back.”

But the chief executive of the International Rescue Committee said he remains a member and that his responsibility is to “those who I know are working so hard at the front lines.”

“As long as Margaret Hodge is in the Labour party fighting to uphold the best of the Labour tradition, I feel it’s incumbent on me to be there as well,” he said.

Speaking as PM Boris Johnson announced he would push for a general election on December 12, he also argued in favour of a second referendum.

David Miliband, Lord Robert Winston, Sir John Holmes, Rabbi Liss of Highgate Shul (Credit: ©️Jeremy Rosenberg)

He said: “It cannot be more democratic to plough on with a version of Brexit that was never presented to the public in 2016 than to consult them on whether they want to go ahead with this plan.”

“I would argue the risks to democratic health of doing so are greater than allowing the public to decide. Especially so when the plan does not represent the end of Brexit but in fact is only the beginning,” he added.

He also called for measures to combat the proliferation of fake news on social media and for the intimidation of journalists and MPs to be called out and pushed back against.

“The BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg is doing her job. She reports the news, and the attempts to shape the news, and tries to help us understand what is happening underneath the bonnet of the car,” he added.

On whether he intends to return to Westminster, Miliband said: “We all have to make the best of the circumstances that we find ourselves in and I think it’s really important that I try and apply that lens to thinking about how I can make the most difference. So that’s not an answer in other words.”

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