Suspended Labour MP Kate Osamor to be given party whip back within days after Holocaust post

Exclusive: Three months after being suspended over a Holocaust Memorial Day post suggesting the Israeli action in Gaza is genocide, Kate Osamor will be welcomed back into the Labour fold

Archie Mitchell
Thursday 25 April 2024 16:10 BST
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Kate Osamor plagiarises Barack Obama in 2017 constituency victory speech

Suspended MP Kate Osamor will be given the Labour whip back within days, The Independent has been told.

Three months after being suspended over a Holocaust Memorial Day post suggesting the Israeli action in Gaza is genocide, the Edmonton MP will be welcomed back into the Labour fold.

Ms Osamor, who was a shadow minister under Jeremy Corbyn, was placed under investigation over the post, which likened Israel’s war in Gaza to the Holocaust, as well as genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda and Bosnia.

Kate Osamor likened Israel’s war in Gaza to the Holocaust, as well as genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda and Bosnia
Kate Osamor likened Israel’s war in Gaza to the Holocaust, as well as genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda and Bosnia (Getty)

In the message, she said: “Tomorrow is Holocaust Memorial Day, an international day to remember the 6 million Jews murdered during the Holocaust, the millions of other people murdered under Nazi persecution of other groups and more recent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and now Gaza.”

The Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) condemned the remarks as “inappropriate and offensive”. And the Board of Deputies of British Jews issued a statement saying it “unreservedly condemned the attempts by Kate Osamor to link the Holocaust to the current situation in Gaza”.

She quickly apologised for the post and instead referred to the situation in Gaza as a “humanitarian disaster” as opposed to a “genocide”.

Judges at the International Court of Justice in the Hague have said there is a “plausible” case Israel has committed acts in Gaza that violate the Genocide Convention.

Osamor is expected to have the whip returned soon
Osamor is expected to have the whip returned soon (PA)

The Independent has approached Labour and Ms Osamor for comment.

A critic of her suspension said it was “performative” because Ms Osamor was still given labour briefings while technically an independent MP. They added that she was told she would be judged on how closely she followed the labour whip, despite being suspended by the party.

But a JLM source said: “Osamor’s apology this time will have to be spectacularly sincere, contrite and demonstrate true understanding of the deep hurt she caused the Jewish community to cut the mustard.

“Given her past form, we'll remain sceptical that she has truly learned any lessons; in her actions as well as words."

It is thought she will be given the whip back by next Wednesday. A Labour source suggested the decision was meant to be taken earlier this week but was delayed because it would have clashed with the anniversary of the suspension of Diane Abbott. Labour said it was untrue that the timing was related to Ms Abbott. A Labour spokesperson said they could not comment on an ongoing case.

Diane Abbott has been under investigation by the Labour Party for a year
Diane Abbott has been under investigation by the Labour Party for a year (AP)

Ex-shadow home secretary Ms Abbott remains suspended and under a supposed investigation after she wrote a letter suggesting Jewish people are not subjected to the same racism as some other minorities last April.

Ms Abbott has described the investigation into her as a “sham”, while MPs on the Labour left have called for her to have the whip restored.

Ms Osamor is to get the Labour whip back a month after Andy McDonald, who was suspended over remarks he made at a pro-Palestine rally, was also brought back into the parliamentary party.

The MP for Middlesbrough was suspended from the party in October last year after using the controversial phrase “between the river and the sea” in a speech during a demonstration.

But, after an investigation into the comments, Labour concluded he had “not engaged in conduct that was against the party’s rulebook”.

The party said it had reminded him of “the importance of elected representatives being mindful” of what they say and how their comments may be interpreted.

Mr McDonald said it was “never my intention” to use language that would cause anyone distress and that he “bitterly regrets” the “pain and hurt caused”.

Middlesbrough MP Andy McDonald had the Labour whip restored last month
Middlesbrough MP Andy McDonald had the Labour whip restored last month (PA)

“I will continue to denounce the abominations of antisemitism and Islamophobia wherever they raise their ugly heads. These are key reasons why I joined the Labour Party 45 years ago,” he said. Former Labour MP Geraint Davies remains suspended under investigation over allegations that he sexually harassed junior colleagues.

Ms Osamor was elected to represent Edmonton in 2015 and served under Mr Corbyn as shadow minister for women and equalities and shadow secretary of state for international development. She is a member of the international development committee.

The MP has previously courted controversy and was in 2020 told to apologise by parliament’s standards commissioner after being found in breach of the MPs’ code of conduct in relation to her son’s conviction for a drugs offence.

After quitting Mr Corbyn’s shadow cabinet as a result of events surrounding her son Ishmael’s conviction, she was found to have broken the rules by using parliamentary-headed notepaper to supply a character reference to the court on the day of his sentencing.

She was also found to have damaged the reputation of the Commons by using abusive language to a journalist enquiring about the case.

A report by former standards commissioner Kathryn Stone noted that Ms Osamor swore at a journalist and told him she “should have come down here with a f***ing bat and smashed your face open” after he asked questions about her son’s case.

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