Two parliamentarians, one Israeli and one British, told audiences at the Jewish Labour Movement conference that people should stay inside the Labour Party if they wished to effect meaningful changes.
Hilik Bar, who is deputy speaker of the Knesset, and Labour MP Wes Streeting made the same plea at separate sessions during the day-long conference at London’s JW3 community centre.
Mr Bar, who was the architect of a letter sent to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn cutting ties between Israeli Labour and Mr Corbyn’s office, responded to an audience question about staying in the party. “Yes, absolutely stay members of Labour”, Mr Bar said. “Stay in order to fix it. I ask you to stay in Labour, and the sane part of the Labour Party”.
Wes Streeting, appearing on a panel with fellow Labour MPs Rosie Duffield and Dame Louise Ellman, as well as the director of the Labour pressure group Progress, said that walking away — though he understood it — “will ensure with absolute certainty that the hard Left will take over. I didn’t join Labour to have it turn into a Marxist debating society.”
Mr Streeting mourned the fact that Labour’s turbulent summer had been predicted and was predictable — and unnecessary. And he said it was “appalling” that only three members of the Shadow Cabinet — Tom Watson, Sir Keir Starmer, and Jon Ashworth — had spoken out about the situation — “from one of the biggest shadow cabinets on record.”
He knew, he declared bitterly, more about the Party’s “position on jerk rice than on antisemitism,” referring to comments made recently by the Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities, Dawn Butler, over alleged “cultural appropriation” by the TV chef Jamie Oliver.