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Miriam Mirwitch: Leading the way in the fight for Labour’s future

The new chair of the Young Labour movement says she is committed to fighting antisemitism both inside and outside the party

    As Jewish Labour Party supporters tear up their membership cards and councillors decide they must resign in the face of foul abuse, younger members of the community are staking their claim to wrestle back the heart and soul of the party.

    Miriam Mirwitch, the new chair of the Young Labour movement, is one of them.

    She beat Leigh Drennan, the candidate backed by the hard-left Momentum group, by a margin of under 100 votes out of 7,000 last weekend. Her victory is still sinking in.

    “If I’m honest I didn’t expect it,” the 24-year-old explains.

    “I was elected as someone who is really open and proud of being Jewish and I had support from across the party,” she adds as proof, she believes, that there is still hope for Jewish Labour activists.

    It is young Jewish women who are making waves in the party, Ms Mirwitch says.

    “You have people like Rhea Wolfson and Izzy Lenga and there is a really strong feeling of sisterhood.

    “We lift each other up and push each other on. When I joined the movement it was other Jewish women like Rhea who said you should be more involved and you should come back.

    “We need to encourage more women to go for those roles because there is always going to be someone else who will put themselves forward for it.”

    Ms Mirwitch, whose family are members of New West End Synagogue in Central London, says she is committed to fighting antisemitism both within and outside the party and nothing could make her leave.

    “We have come a long way. But there is still some way to go.

    “I think about Jo Cox a lot and what she said about there being more that unites us than divides us.

    “No matter what your opinions are on policy, the Labour values that unite us are so strong. So I’m not going anywhere.

    “I have so much love for the movement and the support I had during my campaign came from everywhere.”

    Ms Mirwitch was heartened by the support she got from other Labour members when she experienced antisemitic abuse online.

    “I got messages from the director of the Labour Muslim network and that sort of thing keeps you going. I felt like they had my back.”

    Young Labour has made “enormous steps” to improve the experience for young Jews in the party and to represent a positive example to the wider movement, she believes.

    “Antisemitism is unacceptable and there are times that it makes me quite upset. But the leadership is taking it more seriously and the work of the Jewish Labour Movement means things are getting better.

    “We introduced Shabbos-friendly youth events and have been putting through motions condemning antisemitism.

    “I think in a way young people are leading the way. But there is still work to do.

    “One thing I’m really looking forward to doing is working more with the JLM on workshops about tackling antisemitism.”

    Ms Mirwitch is a veteran, as it were, of Young Labour. Previously disability officer and London Young Labour Chair, she is now in the top role for a group which represents more than 100,000 party members aged 14 to 27.

    She is passionate about engaging more young people in politics.

    “I think it is so important for young people to feel engaged and have a say in what our future is going to be.

    “There are so many young people out there with strong political opinions but they feel like there is not really a way for them to express them. Young Labour gives them skills to become activists.”

    Ms Mirwitch has been a member of her local Brentford and Isleworth party since she was 16, and studied at the London School of Economics, where she was on the Labour Club committee.

    Debating policy issues with her family has taught her the importance of listening to the other side. “We often disagree on things and I think that is typical of every Jewish family.

    “We will happily debate and argue about things — that is the way you learn to strengthen your arguments or change your views.”

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