Former Labour MP Ruth Smeeth waded into the party leadership contest on Tuesday, claiming no Labour shadow minister “deserves” to be leader due to the shadow cabinet’s response to the row over antisemitism.
Writing for the Jewish Chronicle, the former MP, who lost her seat in the 2019 general election, wrote she believed the next Labour leader must be a backbencher who stood by the community amid allegations of anti-Jewish racism in the party.
In her piece, she cited Jess Phillips, Lisa Nandy, Dan Jarvis and Yvette Cooper as viable alternatives who have “shown leadership on racism when others were cowards.”
The shadow cabinet, she claimed, “chose to sit by when we needed them to stand up. If they were not our allies when we needed them, we should not be their ally when they want us.”
Smeeth also accused shadow ministers of paying “lip service when the anti-Jewish hate was at its worst” while “nothing changed.”
Smeeth, who is parliamentary chair of the Jewish Labour Movement, urged readers to join the party’s affiliate to get a vote for the next leader rather than “sit back and let the horror of anti-Jewish hate continue to pervade the Labour Party.”
Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry and shadow treasury minister Clive Lewis have thrown their hat into the ring to succeed Jeremy Corbyn after Labour suffered its worst electoral defeat since 1935.
Other possible candidates reportedly include shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer and the shadow business secretary and Corbyn-ally Rebecca Long Bailey, who wrote in the Guardian on Sunday that she was considering a leadership bid and pledged to champion “progressive patriotism.”