Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation

We will not allow Jewish voices to be drowned out by hate

Andrea Leadsom, Leader of the House of Commons, pledges to combat antisemitism after hearing MPs’ concerns

    Lionel de Rothschild introduced in the House of Commons on 26 July 1858 (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
    Lionel de Rothschild introduced in the House of Commons on 26 July 1858 (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

    Lionel de Rothschild, the first British Jewish MP to sit in the House of Commons, persisted through 11 years of unthinkable systemic antisemitism before being allowed to take his rightful seat in the House as Liberal member for the City of London in 1858.

    It was his campaign for representation and equality that I was reminded of when I heard the awful abuse received by some of my colleagues on the opposition benches.

    While the systemic barriers to representation that Lionel de Rothschild faced have been removed, new challenges for minority groups appear in their place.

    Hate speech online and in the public seeks to intimidate and threaten Jewish Members of Parliament, community groups and individuals into silence.

    In Parliament last week, those who speak out against this hatred admitted to having received death threats and fearing for the safety of their own families.

    Since becoming Leader of the House of Commons, I have travelled around the country meeting people of all ages, races, and religions, and talking to them about their views on our democracy.

    Jewish constituents, colleagues and friends have told me they are scared, angry, and uncertain.

    It is clear that our democracy is not yet as equal as it should be.

    As the Prime Minister said earlier this year, a tone of bitterness and aggression has entered into our public debate. Hearing the appalling reality faced by my colleagues online last week was as moving as it is unacceptable, and as Leader of the House, I want to work to stop it.

    As the local elections loom closer, many people will be thinking about how to vote. And voting is, of course, hugely important – a pillar of our democracy. But one must not forget that a true democracy goes further than that.

    The reality in politics is that you only ever achieve change through on-going, persistent campaigning. The resilience and bravery demonstrated by my parliamentary colleagues Luciana Berger, Ruth Smeeth and others in the debate last week echoes that of Lionel de Rothschild and others like him – just in a new context, with new challenges.

    It’s the same approach taken by the Suffragettes and suffragists to reach their goal of universal suffrage 100 years ago: fighting hard, showing tenacity and patience, grit and determination, which in turn eventually gives way to transformational change.

    MPs must pay attention to the interests and needs of all constituents. We must now look to work with the Jewish community, taking up the causes of their constituents and campaigning on their behalf on Westminster.

    And in turn, as the Leader of the House of Commons, I ask that you help us do that. Voting is one way to impact democracy, but it was the voices of the suffragettes and the persistence of Lionel de Rothschild that eventually impacted change.

    Write to your MP, campaign, get involved in local and/or party politics – but please, do not give up on us or on democracy.

    The voices of British Jews must not be drowned out by those that seek to silence them.

    Andrea Leadsom is Leader of the House of Commons and Conservative MP for South Northamptonshire

UK News

'Jewish voters misunderstood me', says Ken

Alastair Thomas

Friday, May 4, 2018

'Jewish voters misunderstood me', says Ken
World

'Don't wear kippahs in public' German Jews told

Rosa Doherty

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

'Don't wear kippahs in public' German Jews told
UK News

Labour MPs attend event organised by activists facing antisemitism claims

Marcus Dysch

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Labour MPs attend event organised by activists facing antisemitism claims
UK News

Labour loses to Conservatives in Barnet

Lee Harpin

Friday, May 4, 2018

Labour loses to Conservatives in Barnet
UK News

JVL founder plays down abuse of Jewish MPs

Lee Harpin

Friday, April 20, 2018

JVL founder plays down abuse of Jewish MPs
UK News

Campaign to fix Berlin Wall graffiti

Alastair Thomas

Friday, February 16, 2018

Campaign to fix Berlin Wall graffiti
UK News

Corbyn accused of 'backtracking' over antisemitism definition

Lee Harpin

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Corbyn accused of 'backtracking' over antisemitism definition
UK News

Devastated councillors abandon ‘toxic’ party

Rosa Doherty

Friday, March 23, 2018

Devastated councillors abandon ‘toxic’ party
UK News

MPs learn about contemporary antisemitism

Alastair Thomas

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

MPs learn about contemporary antisemitism