Jewish Labour Movement urges party to suspend Peterborough MP within hours of her unexpected election

It calls Lisa Forbes a 'perfect example' of a Labour figure who advances in the party despite promoting 'racist material' and opposing the IHRA antisemitism definition


The Jewish Labour Movement has urged Labour to suspend its newest MP over her endorsement of antisemitic statements, after her unexpected by-election victory.

Within hours of Ms Forbes taking Peterborough, JLM issued a statement on Friday calling her a "perfect example" of a Labour activist who advanced within the party despite promoting "racist material" and opposing the IHRA definition of antisemitism.

Ms Forbes was revealed to have liked a post on Facebook that said Theresa May had a "Zionist Slave Master's Agenda" and praised a post that said Islamic extremists were the work of Mossad. Ms Forbes has apologised and insisted she found antisemitism "abhorrent".

JLM, which announced it would not campaign for Ms Forbes earlier this week, said she would have to go "far, far further" than her statements of apology and urged the party to suspend her.

A JLM spokesperson called her "a perfect example" of how Labour allow those who "shared racist material and rejected the IHRA definition of antisemitism not only to be a member but [to] advance political and seek public office".

"Ms Forbes will have to go far, far further than her statements at the weekend to demonstrate to our members and the Jewish community that she isn't racist against Jews," they added.

"The PLP called for the Party to adopt the IHRA definition. Given her previous rejection of IHRA, Ms Forbes should have the whip suspended immediately.

"This show how urgent and necessary the EHRC's investigation into Labour's institutional racism is. The party is simply incapable of rooting out hate by itself."

Anti-racism campaigners Hope Not Hate urges Ms Forbes to give up the Labour whip, saying "no MP under investigation for racism should have the Labour whip. A failure to act would show that antisemitism has become normalised in the party".

The group said her "behaviour falls well short of that expected of an MP, and should be unacceptable to an anti-racist party".

Labour MPs Dame Louise Ellman and Dame Margaret Hodge formally complained to the party about their new parliamentary colleague.

A Labour source said the complaints were being "processed".

In a joint statement, the Board of Deputies, Jewish Leadership Council and the CST said they had not heard from Ms Forbes since her actions were made public, despite her claim she wanted to educate herself.

"Before Lisa Forbes was elected, we commented that we were fed up of hearing that Labour opposes antisemitism yet simultaneously hearing excuses that its members accidentally missed the racism that was staring them in the face", the statement said.

"Anti-Jewish racism within the Labour Party is being normalised and fully supported by the Party. Our organisations have had no direct contact from Lisa Forbes and no response from the Party regarding our concerns."

"The Party’s failure to even try to engage with our concerns or to implement the changes for which we have called is an ongoing symptom of the racist mess for which it is now being investigated by the Equality and Human Rights Commission."

Senior Labour politicians' decision to campaign for Ms Forbes - including deputy leader Tom Watson - despite JLM announcing it would not, angered many.

Luciana Berger, the MP who quit Labour in February over antisemitic bullying, said she was "unfollowing a lot of people" after the victory, an apparent reference to those who backed Ms Forbes.

Labour declined to comment.

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