Labour backlash erupts after Margaret Hodge triggered for reselection contest

Posted On: 
29th September 2019

A fresh Labour row has erupted after it emerged party veteran Margaret Hodge could be kicked out as an election candidate after being "triggered" by activists in her seat.

Margaret Hodge has become the second Labour MP to face a deselection battle
Credit: 
PA Images

The former minister - an outspoken critic of Jeremy Corbyn - said she was "disappointed" after Labour branches in her Barking constituency vote for her to face a reselection ballot.

New rules drawn up at last year’s Labour conference mean only a third of constituency branches are needed to trigger a reselection, whereas it was previously 50%.

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In a statement, Dame Margaret said: “I am obviously disappointed. My priority remains serving the people of Barking as I have done for the last 25 years.

“At a vital time for the country, with a general election looming, we should be focusing our efforts on holding Boris Johnson and the Tories to account.

“I will work to secure the full backing of Barking Labour Party, so I can continue to play my part as their MP in doing that."

Dame Margaret, who is Jewish, has been a vocal critic of Mr Corbyn's handling of Labour's anti-semitism crisis, and last year had a row with the Labour leader in which she called him "a racist".

The confrontation happened after Labour's National Executive Committee endorsed a controversial new code of conduct on anti-Jewish abuse.

Fiona Sharpe, spokeswoman for Labour Against Antisemitism, said the move to trigger a vote on Ms Hodge’s future was “further evidence of the hostility towards Jews that is endemic within the Labour Party”.

She added: “Earlier this year the Wavertree MP Luciana Berger departed Labour citing antisemitic abuse.

“Now it appears another Jewish woman who has also been critical of anti-Jewish racism is being targeted.

“Labour Against Antisemitism stands in solidarity with Dame Margaret and hope she is successful in her fight against deselection.”

'SHAMEFUL'

Mike Katz, from the Jewish Labour Movement branded the move “shameful” and blamed a “toxic atmosphere and culture of denialism” in the party.

"Margaret Hodge has been a steadfast campaigner against racism, fascism and intolerance throughout her political life," he said.

"She saw off the BNP in Barking, and has over the last few years been determined in her opposition to antisemitism within the Labour Party

"This is a shameful moment for a Party which claims to embody the values of equality and diversity. She has been the target of vicious smears, derision and antisemitism, because she has been resolute in her opposition to anti-Jewish racism.

“This takes place at the same time that the Party are being investigated for unlawful discrimination by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission.

“This could not have happened without the toxic atmosphere and culture of denialism that has gripped the Party. Engineered by the Party's leadership, it has been enforced by a sordid coalition of fake news, factionalism and the frontbench.

“Margaret is a doughty fighter, and JLM will be right alongside her over the coming weeks.”

Elsewhere, former Labour Cabinet minister David Miliband tweeted: “MAD. Truly crazy. Any constituency would be lucky to have Margaret as their MP.”

And Stoke-on-Trent North MP, Ruth Smeeth, wrote: "Margaret Hodge is a loyal friend, brilliant MP, and my ally in the fight against the anti-Jewish hate that’s too prevalent in Labour.

"Those trying to oust her do a disservice to Barking and to our Party. Their actions will be viewed for what they are - shameful & contemptible."