Labour’s lady who opposes Corbyn: MP Dame Louise Ellman

#23: MP Dame Louise Ellman

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September 28, 2019 21:00
2 minute read.
Labour’s lady who opposes Corbyn: MP Dame Louise Ellman

An official portrait of Labour Friends of Israel Chair Dame Louise Joyce Ellman. (photo credit: CHRIS MCANDREW/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)

Dame Louise Ellman is one of the most high-profile Jewish members of parliament in the UK’s House of Commons, has spoken out strongly against the rampant antisemitism that has gripped the Labour Party she belongs to, and has recently taken on the role of chairwoman of the Labour Friends of Israel.

During the recent tumultuous years of ongoing incidents and allegations of antisemitism in Labour, Ellman has called out those in her party who have engaged in antisemitism – as well as party leader Jeremy Corbyn – for his failure to deal with the problem.

She was first elected as a member of parliament in 1997 for a constituency in the northwestern city of Liverpool, and has served as MP there ever since.

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She has been a strong advocate for Israel in the House of Commons, and has not been afraid to speak up in defense of the Jewish state, in what is not always a sympathetic forum.

Ellman herself has been the subject of antisemitic comments and allegations from members of her Constituency Labour Party, including in one incident a threat of physical violence, as well as hate-filled attacks on social media.

She has come close to quitting Labour over the antisemitism furore but has decided to stay and fight for the party, despite the decision of several colleagues to abandon it because of its antisemitism problem, among other issues.

As such, the MP has continually called on the party leadership to deal decisively with the antisemitism complaints through the disciplinary procedures at its disposal.

Its failure to do so has meant that Ellman has continued her public admonitions of her own party and its current leader.

“It is an undisputed fact that since Jeremy Corbyn became the leader of the Labour Party, antisemitism within the Labour Party has developed, and it is rife and it has not been dealt with yet. The only time [when] it is dealt with properly is when there is public exposure,” Ellman told BBC Radio 4 in April.

In June, Ellman condemned her own party in even stronger terms. “A party that does not deal with hatred and prejudices towards Jewish people is not fit to govern,” she said of Labour in an interview with Channel 4 News, a harsh indictment at a time when new elections in the UK seem just a matter of time given the chaos wrought by Brexit.

In August, she became the chairwoman of the Labour Friends of Israel after fellow MP Joan Ryan resigned from the party last year due to fierce attacks against her from party activists and officials for her criticism of Corbyn over the antisemitism crisis.

With Labour’s antisemitism problem not going away any time soon, and the increasingly fraught political situation in the UK in general, Ellman will continue to be a crucial voice in the Labour Party, urging it to take responsibility for the antisemitic plague that has gripped it – for the good of her party and the country at large.


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