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Tue, 7 April 2020

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EXCL Labour anti-semitism has caused ‘harm’ to the Jewish community, says senior MP

EXCL Labour anti-semitism has caused ‘harm’ to the Jewish community, says senior MP
3 min read

Labour must do more than apologise for the "harm" and "distress" it has brought to the Jewish community in Britain, one of the party’s backbenchers has said.


In an interview with The House magazine, Bridget Phillipson said accusations of anti-semitism have been a “terrible stain” on the Labour movement - and warned there must be "massive change" within the party to address the issue.

The Houghton and Sunderland South MP also said she has felt “compromised” in staying in the party after people such as Luciana Berger, who left Labour last year, were “effectively forced out”.

“Anti-semitism has been a terrible stain on our party. We haven’t done enough to tackle it. I remain terribly distressed that good former colleagues of mine felt no alternative but to walk away from the party because we weren’t tackling the issue of anti-semitism,” she told The House.

“We have a big task ahead of us in rebuilding our relationship with the Jewish Labour Movement but also with the Jewish community. That task will be a very difficult one because we have caused immense distress and we have caused harm to the Jewish community in our country.

"Apologising won’t be enough to demonstrate that we understand that there needs to be massive change within the party.”

Seven Labour MPs, including Ms Berger, initially quit the Labour party in February last year, citing the leadership’s failure to clamp down on anti-Semitism as one of the driving factors.

“It was very difficult and it’s a source of immense regret to me that people like Luciana were effectively forced out of the Labour party. It makes you feel compromised in staying at times,” said Ms Phillipson.

“But I believed that I needed along with many other people to be a part of making the change. The Labour party has been the most important vehicle for social change that our country has ever seen. I want it to get back on that path once again.”

SIR KEIR STARMER

Ms Phillipson, who is backing Sir Keir Starmer in the Labour leadership race, dismissed concerns that the former director of public prosecutions would be unable to win back Labour voters in the north of England.

“We have just seen the second old-Etonian in five years become prime minister of our country,” she said.

“For voters, what matters most is having a credible leader with authority who can bring the party back together and can make the changes that we need to see. We can’t just have one more heave. That would potentially destroy the Labour party altogether.”

She added: “I don’t believe that voters need their politicians to seek to imitate them. They need to understand their concerns.”

The House Magazine
The House Magazine

Read the latest issue of Parliament's weekly magazine, featuring Lindsay Hoyle, Emily Thornberry, Tom Tugendhat, Tobias Ellwood, Robert Halfon, Jess Phillips, Rosena Allin-Khan and more

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