Labour MP quits party after 55 years because of ‘risk of Corbyn becoming PM’

‘I believe that Jeremy Corbyn is not fit to serve as our prime minister,’ says Dame Louise Ellman

Zamira Rahim
Wednesday 16 October 2019 23:14
Louise Ellman expresses concern about antisemitism links with Jeremy Corbyn in 2018 interview

A Labour MP has quit the party after 55 years as a member, saying she can no longer advocate voting for the party “when it risks Corbyn becoming PM”.

Louise Ellman said the decision was “truly agonising” and she hoped ”that under different leadership I will be able to return to my political home”.

Pointing to the antisemitism scandal that has engulfed the party as the reason for her decision, the Liverpool Riverside MP, who has held her seat in parliament for 22 years, said she would not join anyone else and intended to sit as an independent.

Announcing her decision on Twitter, the 73-year-old wrote: “I have made the truly agonising decision to leave the Party after 55 years. I can no longer advocate voting Labour when it risks Corbyn becoming PM.”

In her resignation letter, which she attached to her post, Ms Ellman said the party was no longer a safe place for Jewish people, adding that its leader had to “bear responsibility” for the current state of affairs.

“I believe that Jeremy Corbyn is not fit to serve as our prime minister,” she said, adding: “With a looming general election and the possibility of him becoming prime minister, I feel I have to take a stand. I cannot advocate a government led by Jeremy Corbyn.

“Under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, antisemitism has become mainstream in the Labour Party. Jewish members have been bullied, abused and driven out.

“Antisemites have felt comfortable and vile conspiracy theories have been propagated. A party that permits anti-Jewish racism to flourish cannot be called anti-racist. This is not compatible with the Labour Party’s values of equality, tolerance and respect for minorities.

“Shamefully, its anti-Jewish racism is now being investigated by one of the last labour government’s proudest creations, the Equality and Human Rights Commission.”

Ms Ellman, who had faced deselection efforts from members of her constituency Labour Party, added: “Jeremy Corbyn – who spent three decades on the backbenches consorting with, and never confronting, antisemites, Holocaust deniers and terrorists – has attracted the support of too many antisemites.

“The Labour Party is no longer a safe place for Jews and Jeremy Corbyn must bear the responsibility for this. We cannot allow him to do to the country what he has done to the Labour Party.”

A number of other MPs, including Ian Austin and Luciana Berger have also cited antisemitism as their reason for leaving the party.

Mr Corbyn has been accused of not doing enough to tackle the issue, although Labour’s general secretary Jennie Formby has said she has strengthened and speeded up the party’s disciplinary procedures, with more staff to handle investigations.

In a tweet, Labour grandee Harriet Harman described the resignation as “very sad news”.

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“Thank you, Louise, for your terrific contribution to Parliament, politics and the Labour Party!” she said.

Tim Farron, the former Liberal Democrat leader, tweeted: “I’ve known Louise for 30 years. She was a supremely competent leader of Lancashire County Council, a skilful opponent and utterly dedicated to the Labour movement. If there’s no place for Louise Ellman in the 2019 Labour Party, they are finished as a serious force.”

A Labour spokesperson said Mr Corbyn “thanks Louise Ellman for her service to the Labour Party over many years”.

They added that he and the party were ”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”.

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