Former Labour MPs and peer attack Jeremy Corbyn’s party over antisemitism claims

Former Labour MPs and peer attack Jeremy Corbyn’s party over antisemitism claims

Former Labour politicians Louise Ellman, Ian Austin and Joan Ryan and Lord Parry Mitchell appear in documentary on alleged anti-Jewish racism

Louise Ellman appearing on Forced Out
Louise Ellman appearing on Forced Out

Several former Labour MPs who resigned the whip have appeared in a new documentary critical of Jeremy Corbyn over his handling of the antisemitism row.

The 35-minute film entitled Forced Out was released on Thursday just a week before the UK heads to the polls on 12 December.

It contains exclusive interviews with former Labour politicians Louise Ellman, Ian Austin, Joan Ryan and Lord Parry Mitchell and claims to show how campaigners and politicians who quit the party over antisemitism concerns “were forced out by the politics and culture of antisemitism which became normal in the party.”

The film, based on an eponymous book by its co-executive producer Judith Ornstein containing 31 letters from former members to be released on Friday, is narrated by Dr David Hirsh, who quit the Labour Party in April after being a member for 30 years.

Dame Louise, who left the Labour Party in October after 55 years, describes her decision as “truly agonising” in a personal letter addressed to Labour’s general secretary Jennie Formby read aloud on the programme. “I will not join any other party. I hope that under a different Labour leadership I will be able to return to my political home,” she says.

Austin who quit the party in February, also reads a letter addressed to Formby. “One of the main reasons I joined the Labour Party as a teenager here in Dudley more than 35 years ago was to fight racism,” he says.

“I could never have believed that I would leaving because of racism too. The Labour Party has been my life so this has been the hardest decision I’ve ever had to take, but I have to be honest, and the truth is that I have become ashamed of the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn,” he adds.

Elsewhere in the programme, Ryan, who also quit the party in February, alleges its leadership “allows Jews to be abused with impunity and the victims of such abuse to be ridiculed, have their motives questioned and their integrity called into doubt” in a letter to Formby.

She adds: “For quite some time I’ve tried to fight it from within but in the end you’re fighting on grounds you’ve already lost. You’re fighting yourself if you stay in. And I couldn’t give up my values, and I no longer believed there was any evidence at all that you could win the fight from inside.”

Meanwhile, the cross-bench peer Lord Parry, who quit Labour in 2016, tells the programme he had been “pushed out of my home.”

“How can I a Jew and a Zionist remain in a party where the leadership is so hostile to Israel even to its very existence and which also flirts with antisemitism,” he said, also reading aloud a letter to Formby.

“They will brook no dissent whatsoever, any member of Parliament, any shadow minister, whoever it happens to be who voices a different opinion becomes the enemy,” he claims.

Corbyn offered an apology this week for the row, telling ITV’s This Morning: “Our party and me do not accept antisemitism in any form. Obviously I am very sorry for everything that has happened, but I want to make this clear – I am dealing with it, I have dealt with it.

“Other parties are also affected by antisemitism. Candidates have been withdrawn by the Liberal Democrats, the Conservatives, and by us, because of it. We just do not accept it in any form whatsoever.”

The Labour Party has been approached for comment.
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