David Lammy: I regret nominating Corbyn for leadership

Shadow Foreign Secretary addresses virtual audience of more than 300 at Limmud Festival


Britain's main opposition Labour Party shadow Justice Secretary David Lammy addresses delegates on the fourth day of the annual Labour Party conference in Brighton, on the south coast of England on September 28, 2021. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP) (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)

The Shadow Foreign Secretary, David Lammy, said he regretted nominating Jeremy Corbyn for the Labour leadership six years ago.

The MP for Tottenham, whose constituency is home to part of the large North London Charedi community, told Limmud, “It was a mistake and I’m very sorry for that mistake”.

He said, “If I knew how I feel now, I’d never have nominated him.”

Mr Lammy explained that he had not supported Mr Corbyn but had nominated him to enable more debate in the leadership campaign at the time when there was talk that the other candidates were “all a bit samey”.

But he said he had never believed Mr Corbyn would be elected leader and that he had already begun to regret nominating him before taking part in the Enough is Enough protest against antisemitism outside Parliament in 2018, which he described as “a very emotional experience”.

Mr Lammy said all members of the Shadow Cabinet supported current leader Sir Keir Starmer’s agenda and he liked to think that the culture in the party was no longer toxic.

But he recognised there were “pockets of problems”.

“This is a road back,” he said, “We are on the road, but the journey is not complete. And I’m afraid, very sadly, it is still the case in some constituency parties there are individuals who, it is is clear, still hold deeply antisemitic views.

“I have met some of these individuals and I’m staggered, frankly, that some of them are still in the party… but there is a process. That process can feel slow and tortuous sometimes.”

On the Middle East, he said it was important to understand “the historic role” of the United States. “We have to be in partnership with them and all of the players in the region to get to that negotiated peace so that people can live in Israel safely.”

He recalled sitting in a Tel Aviv restaurant and thinking about “rockets and fear” but added, “equally, there has got to be a solution that works for the Palestinians.”

Britain had to be a country that stood up for human rights, he stressed.

Referring to some “worrying states and actors in the region,” he mentioned Iran.

The UK had to be careful in the way it upheld its values “so that we can broker peace but also be really firm with those that would want to do us or our friends harm. It is a values-based approach to foreign policy.”

He recalled his gratitude to the group of Jewish lawyers who had helped to finance his studies at Harvard Law School and the support of a law professor there, Alan Stone. “These are people who believed in me when I was much more insecure than I am today and didn’t always believe in myself.”


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