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Dysch on politics: Louise Ellman is our own northern powerhouse

The MP for Liverpool Riverside has been both brave and dignified in the face of the threats against her.

    The extremely unsettling state of affairs within Louise Ellman’s constituency Labour Party in Liverpool has taken another turn.

    Readers will remember our front-page story from April which revealed the veteran MP had been targeted by activists “hell-bent” on attacking her at local party meetings — reportedly because she was Jewish.

    Labour has now confirmed it will investigate “several complaints and counter-complaints of entryism, antisemitism and uncomradely behaviour within Liverpool Riverside CLP”.

    The probe will result in recommendations being made to the party’s national executive committee disputes panel in January.

    “Uncomradely” is one way of putting it. The allegations against members of the hard-left Momentum group on Merseyside include the claim activists compared Hamas terrorists digging under the Gaza border with Jews trying to escape Nazi persecution in the Warsaw ghetto.

    There were also said to be challenges to Mrs Ellman’s work to combat antisemitism and slurs suggesting Israel was backing Daesh.

    One non-Jewish constituent described the level of Jew-hate directed at the MP during the meetings as “terrifying”.

    This was not some minor local dispute. The approach taken by the activists was, other MPs told me, part of a nationwide campaign to use the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to stir tensions across Britain.

    Mrs Ellman, who has been both brave and dignified in the face of the threats against her, told me she was “very pleased” Labour would now investigate. The situation had been, she said, “deeply disturbing”.

    A former lecturer, she was born in Manchester, lived in Leeds, studied in Hull and York, and led Lancashire County Council for 16 years until her election to Parliament in the Liverpool Riverside seat in 1997.

    In the Commons she has been the most dependable voice for the community, defending our religious practices, including circumcision and shechita.

    As a result, she has too often been on the sharp end of antisemitism. It was when she rose in the chamber in 2011 to defend Israelis against arrest in this country under universal jurisdiction laws that Sir Gerald Kaufman, her fellow Lancastrian Jewish MP, rose to declare: “Here we are, the Jews again.”

    Her support for Israel has been exemplary, as both an officer of Labour Friends of Israel and as part of the Jewish Labour Movement, which she now chairs. Those efforts saw her 2010 general election campaign disrupted by enemies issuing leaflets stating: “Don’t vote for Friends of Israel.”

    Mrs Ellman has repeatedly stuck her neck out to challenge her own party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, during Labour’s antisemitism crisis. And it has been to her personal detriment, as events in Liverpool have shown.

    While the national focus has been on the vicious abuse directed at her colleagues, including Angela Eagle, Jess Phillips, Stella Creasy, Ruth Smeeth and others, Mrs Ellman’s own plight appears to have gone largely unnoticed.

    Mrs Ellman is very much an unsung hero. She is our own northern powerhouse, leading from the front, setting the right example, and not seeking the limelight in return.

    There are countless people in politics, and the wider community, who could learn from her example.

    British Jews should do everything possible to support Mrs Ellman in the fight against the vicious, Jew-hating enemies who seek to end her career.

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