At last November’s LFI annual lunch, I pledged that, whatever the personal cost, I would stand by the Jewish community in the fight against antisemitism in the Labour party.
This week I have honoured that pledge by resigning as a Labour MP. I will now sit with the newly formed Independent Group.
Leaving behind a party of which I have been a member for 40 years and which I have been proud to serve as a councillor, MP and a minister is terribly painful.
But showing my solidarity with the Jewish community is one of the easiest decisions of my life.
Until Jeremy Corbyn became its leader in September 2015, Labour did not have a problem with anti-Jewish racism. Today, it is institutionally antisemitic.
I believe that the Labour party stands for equality or it stands for nothing. You cannot claim to believe in equality and oppose racism if you preside over a culture in which Jews are abused and their tormenters are able to act with impunity. I am sickened and ashamed of what has become of my former party.
Mr Corbyn has shown an unwillingness and an inability to tackle this deep-rooted problem. In part this is because he simply does not consider it to be a high enough priority. But I fear that the problem goes deeper: having spent so long in the company of Holocaust deniers, antisemites and terrorists who murder Jews he is simply blind to the problem.
Why else would Mr Corbyn and the Stalinist clique which surrounds him have expended such political capital and energy fighting the adoption of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism last summer? Why else would they have fought to the last to defend the rights of anti-Semites to label Israel a “racist endeavour”? And why else would they have snubbed, resisted and ignored the legitimate demands for action made by the Jewish community through their representative institutions?
Such behaviour has rotted Labour’s moral core. As we have fought to rid Labour of anti-Jewish racism, we have seen the ugliness of Corbyn’s hard left political machine exposed. We’ve seen it spin vicious antisemitic conspiracy theories to evade the truth. We’ve seen its bullying and aggressive tactics deployed against Jews and their allies in the party who speak out. And we’ve seen the adoption of an all-consuming narrative of rage, betrayal and the hunt for heretics.
Such a machine – which resembles Donald Trump’s alt-right and the European far right – can and would be turned against any enemies of the Corbyn project, Jew and non-Jew alike. I fear it poses a danger to the cohesion of our society, the safety of our citizens, and the health of our democracy.
I know, too, that a Corbyn government would rupture Britain’s friendship with Israel. It would work with those who seek to demonise and delegitimise the world’s only Jewish state. And it would aid and appease Iran, an expansionist power that wishes to wipe out Israel, dominate the Middle East, and bring terror to the streets of Europe.
A Corbyn government would be, as British Jews have claimed, an existential threat to the community. I will do all in my power to stop that threat from materialising.