Dame Louise Ellman says her speaking out for Israel gave Labour antisemites 'focus' for their hostility

After quitting party, Dame Louise says the members who attacked her have 'something about targeting women'


MP Dame Louise Ellman has said her decision to repeatedly speak out in support of Israel provided a "focus for the hostility" from Labour's antisemites who have an "obsessional hatred of the Jewish state."

Speaking to the JC after resigning from the party she first joined 55 years ago, the Liverpool Riverside MP said it "sounded very credible" that Jeremy Corbyn or his closest allies once dubbed her "the Honourable Member for Tel Aviv".

Dame Louise, who is the longest serving Jewish MP, was in full agreement that her decision to align herself with both the Labour Friends of Israel and Jewish Labour Movement was a major factor in spurring on the hatred towards her from pro-Corbyn supporters in her party.

Asked about reports last year that a former aide had heard Mr Corbyn and other members of his staff refer to her as the "Honourable Member for Tel Aviv' she said on Thursday: "It sounds very credible to me. I don't have any evidence - but it sounds a credible proposition."

Dame Louise also highlighted how party members who targeted her seemed to mount their most extreme campaigns against Jewish women in the Labour movement.

“There does seem to be something about targeting women," she said. "Look at what’s happened to Luciana Berger, my friend and neighbour in Liverpool has already been hounded out of the Labour Party.

“Margaret Hodge is now facing her own trigger ballot and fighting for re-selection. Ruth Smeeth is in the Labour Party and has suffered bullying and harassment. "

During her resignation speech, the former Lancashire Council leader had said she had decided to resign out of fear that Mr Corbyn could well end up becoming the next Prime Minister.

She added: "I feel a concern, I'm not absolutely convinced he will bring great danger to the Jewish community but I'm very concerned it is possible he could.

"The very fact we are discussing this feels me with anxiety. The potential imminence  of a general election and the prospect that Jeremy Corbyn could very well become prime minister.

"I could not urge people to vote Labour when I thought there was that prospect of him becoming leader of this country."

At last month's Labour Conference, Dame Louise infuriated many on the far-left when she gave a speech at the Labour Friends Of Israel reception in which she said she "understood" why British Jews were considering leaving the country if Labour gained power.

"I come across this a great deal and I am deeply disturbed that one of the most settled minorities in this country is thinking that way," she said on Thursday.

But Dame Louise confirmed she would not be among those who would leave the country, saying she would "do my best to combat what might happen".

Asked what her message would be to the Jewish MPs who have yet to quit Labour - including Dame Margaret Hodge and Ruth Smeeth - she said: "Everyone has their own decisions to make and both of these women are valiant fighters against antisemitism and I know they will continue to take a stand of their own against antisemitism in the party."

Unlike her colleague Ms Berger, who has joined the Liberal Democrats, Dame Louise ruled out joining a new party.

She said: "I will never join another political party and I hope I can go back to Labour under a different leadership. The Labour Party is my natural political home."

And her message to the antisemites still within Mr Corbyn's party? "I'll never stop fighting them and hunting them down."

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