Britain's Labour Party MPs Ann Coffey, Angela Smith, Chris Leslie, Chuka Umunna, Mike Gapes, Luciana Berger and Gavin Shuker pose for a picture after their announcement they are leaving the party, in London, Britain, February 18, 2019..
(photo credit: SIMON DAWSON/ REUTERS)
Several Jewish MPs in the UK as well as mainstream Jewish organizations and political groupings have given strong support to the announcement of seven Labour MPs on Monday that they were resigning from the party due to “institutional antisemitism” and its policy failure on Brexit.
Labour has been beset by repeated incidents of antisemitism amongst its membership and has been strongly criticized by the Jewish community for its failure to tackle the blight.
Among the seven MPs was Luciana Berger, a Labour representative for a constituency in Liverpool who is Jewish and who has faced severe antisemitic abuse for her criticism of Labour’s antisemitism problem and of party leader Jeremy Corbyn for his failure to tackle it.
Earlier this month, the local Labour Party branch attempted to oust her as the Labour candidate for the constituency in the next election largely because of her criticism of Corbyn over the issue.
Berger said on Monday morning that she had resigned because she could not “remain in a party that I have today come to the sickening conclusion is institutionally antisemitic.”
Labour MP Margaret Hodge, who is also Jewish and faced disciplinary procedures for criticizing Corbyn over his failure to tackle antisemitism, stated she was saddened at the step, but said that “The intolerant culture promoted by the leadership makes it difficult for them,” and described the resignations as “a dreadful, dark and divisive day for Labour.”
Hodge added Berger has received “no support from the leadership” and that she understood “enough is indeed enough for her,” but added that she would stay and fight “for the values, principles and soul of the party that was the natural home for Jews when I joined 57 years ago.”
MP Louise Ellman, who is also Jewish, said she too had been saddened by the resignations and how Berger had been “hounded out of the Labour Party,” but that she would continue to fight against antisemitism within the party.
“This is a battle for the soul of the Labour Party she added.
The Jewish Labour Movement, a formal affiliate of the Labour Party, also weighed in, saying that it was “deeply regrettable” that the Labour leadership had failed to tackle antisemitism in the party which it said had led to Berger’s resignation.
“Countless Jewish Labour Party members have resigned in these last few years in protest at the abject failure of the Party to address a growing culture of antisemitism obfuscation and denial,” the organization said.
“It will be for our members now to decide what they, and we, do next.”
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