Former Labour MP quits party after 30 years citing response to antisemitism

Former Labour MP quits party after 30 years citing response to antisemitism

Ex-aide to Gordon Brown, Michael Dugher, admits to being close to tears over the way Luciana Berger and Ruth Smeeth have been treated

Joe Millis is a journalist

Michael Dugher, who was a Labour member for 30 years and an MP for seven
Michael Dugher, who was a Labour member for 30 years and an MP for seven

A former Labour shadow cabinet vice-chair and MP has quit the party and has admitted to being close to tears over Jeremy Corbyn’s failure to tackle antisemitism.

Writing in The Sun on Sunday, Michael Dugher, a former aide to Gordon Brown, said: “It pains me to see what the Labour has become.”

Dugher, a party member for nearly 30 years and an MP for seven, wrote: “Labour has been the greatest force for good for working people in British history. But the Labour Party I joined no longer exists.”

He added: “All my political and adult life I have been a great friend and admirer of the Jewish community. The contribution they have made and continue to make to our country is immeasurable.”

Dugher declared that Labour’s bosses have had repeated opportunities to fix the problem they undoubtedly have with antisemitism, but “they’ve repeatedly failed to do so. Words are not enough. We need action”.

He said that Jeremy Corbyn’s oft-repeated excuse that he was present but not involved “just doesn’t wash any more… Today, under his leadership, antisemites in the Labour Party are repeatedly let off with a rap on the knuckles, rather than being booted out for good.”

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn – his response of being present but not involved ‘just doesn’t wash’

Describing how he had joined Labour aged 15, he said: “I can no longer justify paying subs to a party which I now regard as institutionally antisemitic. For too many people, it is no longer seen as the ‘Labour Party’ but is seen instead as the ‘Antisemitic Party’.

“So many of my best friends in the Jewish community have already left the party. And that’s been entirely understandable. But if it is understandable why a Jewish person would feel the need to leave Labour, how can it be understandable for people like me to stay in the party?

“I’ve fought antisemitism all the time I’ve been a Labour member – starting out campaigning against extremism on our university campuses when I was in the NUS and Labour Students. But today, Labour simply hasn’t done enough to root out the antisemites from its ranks, many of whom claim to be among Jeremy Corbyn’s most fanatical supporters.”

Dugher said that when he saw “that my good friends Ruth Smeeth and Luciana Berger — both brilliant Labour MPs and brave Jewish women — had to have police protection because of the abuse and threats they have received”, it “made me want to cry”.

He was also angered when he saw “the attitude of people such as Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell… Instead of backing Luciana [when she faced a no-confidence motion at her Liverpool Wavertree constituency party], John McDonnell demanded she prove her loyalty to Labour.”


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