The Labour MP who replaced Dame Louise Ellman in the Liverpool Riverside has sparked a new row after claiming her predecessor “was not forced out” of the party as a result of antisemitism.
In a BBC North West interview the parliamentarian Kim Johnson insisted: “Louise Ellman was not forced out – she took a decision to resign for the party after 22 years as a Labour MP.”
Johnson, who was elected as the MP for Riverside in 2019, had been responding to a criticism from the Bolton West Tory MP Chris Green who had spoken of Labour’s problem over “the clearing out of Louise Ellman and other Jewish members.”
Asked to comment on the Labour MPs remarks, made during Sunday’s Politics North West show, Dame Louise told Jewish News: “I am appalled by this statement.
“Keir Starmer has already apologised to me for the antisemitism that drove me out of the party.”
Johnson had earlier spoken in the programme of how Labour “did have an issue with antisemitism” as she was asked to discuss complaints of Islamophobia and misogyny within the party.
The MP added: “The Labour Party acknowledges where we have failed.
“We do have an action plan – we have improved our position on that.”
Dame Louise had quit Labour in October 2019, saying she could not stand for election and risk a government under Jeremy Corbyn, openly citing his failure on antisemitism.
She said that under 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.”
Days later, as the then shadow Brexit Secretary, Starmer called Dame Louise’s resignation “a really low moment” for the party.
Then, in October 2020, his response to the EHRC report into Labour’s handling of antisemitism, Starmer said:” To the people driven out of our Party, the Jewish Members driven out of Parliament, including Louise Ellman and Luciana Berger.
“And to the members of Labour Party staff who spoke out, I want to say this: I know how hard these last few years have been for you.”
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