bye, bye, louise

Resigning MP claims Corbyn has failed to tackle Labour anti-Semitism
Matthew Weaver, Groan, Oct 17 2019

Dame Louise Ellman, the MP for Liverpool Riverside, has said the prospect of Jeremy Corbyn becoming prime minister prompted her to quit Labour after his “extremely distressing” stance on anti-Semitism within the party. Explaining her decision to leave Ellman, who is one of the longest-serving Jewish MPs in the Commons, said:

It is very clear that Jeremy Corbyn as head of the Labour party has really struggled to accept that there’s any such thing as anti-Semitism within the Labour party.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Ellman was asked why she was quitting now, after she was elected as an MP with Corbyn as leader in 2017 and previously stating she would stay in the party to fight anti-Semitism. She said:

In 2017, it didn’t look as if Jeremy would become the prime minister. But I think we’re now in a very different place. A general election is looming. Under Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour party has become a very extreme and uncomfortable place with no room for dissent. The Equality and Human Rights Commission is conducting a statutory investigation into the Labour party to establish whether it is institutionally anti-Semitic. This is extremely distressing. I find it very traumatic. And I think it does mean that the Labour party under Jeremy Corbyn is simply not fit.

She appeared to rule out defecting from Labour to the Liberal Democrats as her friend and fellow Jewish Liverpool MP Luciana Berger did this year. Ellman said she hoped to return to the Labour party but only under a new leader.

I can’t stay in the Labour party under its current leadership. But I hope that under a different leadership I can return to my political home.

In a caustic resignation letter Ellman accused Corbyn of failing to tackle anti-Semitism.

In her interview on Today she repeated that criticism but also broadened it to suggest that female MPs had become particularly vulnerable to deselection after trigger ballots of their local parties under Corbyn’s leadership. Ellman, who has faced deselection efforts from members of her Liverpool Riverside constituency, said:

There does seem to be something about targeting women. Look at what’s happened to Luciana Berger, my friend and neighbour has already been hounded out of the Labour party. The long-standing terrific MP Margaret Hodge is now facing her own trigger ballot and fighting for re-selection. Ruth Smeeth is in the Labour party and has suffered bullying and harassment. Diana Johnson in Hull, a brilliant MP, is also facing deselection. So there is something about women in the Labour party and I’m very sad to see this.

Following Ellman’s resignation, a Labour spokesperson said:

Jeremy Corbyn thanks Louise Ellman for her service to the Labour party over many years. Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party are fully committed to the support, defence and celebration of the Jewish community and continue to take robust action to root out antisemitism in the party and wider society. Jeremy Corbyn has consistently supported struggles for human rights and justice around the world and made the right calls in the interests of security and peace. Several senior Labour MPs expressed distress at Ellman’s decision and what it reflected about the party’s stance on anti-Semitism. Stella Creasy tweeted:

Pat McFadden tweeted:

Lucy Powell tweeted:

Luciana Berger tweeted:

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