Peers who quit Labour citing concerns over antisemitism return to political home
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Peers who quit Labour citing concerns over antisemitism return to political home

Lords David Triesman, Parry Mitchell and Leslie Turnberg will now sit once again with the Labour group in the upper chamber

Sir Keir Starmer speaks during the community's Labour leadership hustings in February 2020  (Credit: Marc Morris)
Sir Keir Starmer speaks during the community's Labour leadership hustings in February 2020 (Credit: Marc Morris)

Three Jewish peers who quit the Labour Party citing concerns over alleged antisemitism have returned to their political home.

Lords David Triesman, Parry Mitchell and Leslie Turnberg will now sit once again with the Labour group in the upper chamber.

They spoke to Jewish News on Friday morning about their reasons for rejoining and their hopes for the future of the party.

Lord Triesman, who resigned the Labour whip last year, said he had been “very generously and warmly received” by colleagues since rejoining. “I was very, very certain in my own mind that I was not going to do it unless I saw the words being used by the party being put into action and into serious action,” he said.

He revealed that he had been “hugely impressed by what Keir Starmer has been able to do and it’s the fact that he’s been so clear-cut and proactive.”

“Friends welcoming you home is always nice, and … seeing the party being transformed back to the party which would not and could not conceive of having antisemitism rooting around in it is a great encouragement,” he added.

Lord Mitchell, who left the party in 2016, said that Keir Starmer’s apology to the Jewish community after being elected Labour leader made him think he was “serious” about stamping out antisemitism.

“He could have said ‘yes, it’s an important issue and I’ll have to deal with it sometimes’, as you would expect many politicians to do. He actually said, ‘this is a prime issue, and I’m going to address it now’, and he did,” Lord Mitchell said.

The Labour peer, who described leaving the party as a painful and “really, really tough decision,  said he has received several messages of support from members since rejoining.

“I feel so good that I’m back and I cannot tell you, today, the emails and texts I’ve received from Labour Party people. They’re all saying ‘welcome back, can’t wait to see you again’,” he said.

Lord Turnberg, who resigned the whip last year, said the Labour Party has “changed dramatically” since Starmer became leader.

“We are back to a Labour Party being led by someone whose philosophy and strategy, and policies are more or less were mine are, social justice and so on, and his efforts to rid the party of antisemitism are admirable so there was no reason for me not to remain or to come back into the party,” he said.

He added: “I didn’t come back straight away. I waited to see what Keir Starmer would be doing, because he may well have been limited by the existing party machine in the Labour National Executive and elsewhere.

“But he’s increasing increasingly showed himself to be above that, and has been able to remove some very key figures on the left, and move back towards a more accessible party with a range of expertise and experience and a range of policy views.”

The Equality and Human Rights Commission’s upcoming report into allegations of antisemitism in the party, expected in the coming weeks, presents Starmer with “a real opportunity.’

The EHRC launched its formal investigation last May to determine whether the party had unlawfully discriminated against, harassed or victimised Jews.

Starmer has pledged to implement in full all of the recommendations made by the equality watchdog.

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