Starmer 'ready to launch Wavertree inquiry' after Labour MP is criticised for expressing regret over Berger exit

EXCLUSIVE Liverpool Wavertree CLP officials send email to members expressing anger at MP Paula Barker over article she wrote for local Jewish newspaper


Sir Keir Starmer is expected to launch an investigation into Liverpool Wavertree Constituency Labour Party after an email was circulated by local officials attacking their own MP for telling a Jewish newspaper that she regretted the fact that her predecessor Luciana Berger had left the party.

Paula Barker, who replaced Ms Berger as the Wavertree MP at the last general election, wrote an article in the local Jewish Telegraph newspaper last week in which she said: “Luciana leaving the Labour Party was a shock to many and I find it deeply regrettable that she felt she could no longer stay…”

The Labour MP also wrote of her hope that the relationship between her party and the local Jewish community could start to improve.

But in a furious response, published in the Wavertree CLP Members Bulletin, four members of the local executive committee put their names to a statement which accuses Ms Barker of reiterating  an “inaccurate and factionally motivated position on antisemitism”.

They also write of their “disappointment and hurt” over Ms Barker’s position, accusing her of failing to mention Jewish critics of Israel in her article which they say “reflected the influence of a partial view that claims to speak for all Jewish people.”

The email - signed by CLP chair Nina Houghton, secretary Kevin Bean, and two other officials - states that the four are “deeply dismayed to be placed in the position of needing to correct the misleading impressions fostered by Paula’s article and, yet again, set the record straight about Ms Berger’s departure from our party.”

Denying any suggestion of anti-Jewish racism with the local Labour party in relation to Ms Berger, they claim “our political disagreement with her was cynically attributed to bullying, harassment and antisemitism on our part.”

They also state that they wish to remind all members that “the suggestion that the CLP Executive is in any way a party to bullying and antisemitism is a false and slanderous accusation.”

They add that Ms Berger, who quit Labour in February 2019 over Mr Corbyn’s failure on antisemitism, “was planning to go, along with a group of other MPs who shared her dislike of Corbyn and his Socialist agenda.”

Sources confirmed to the JC on Tuesday that the office of Labour leader Sir Keir had been alerted to the existence of the email penned by the four Wavertree CLP executive members and was furious about its content.

One Merseyside Labour member told the JC: “We are hopeful this will be enough for Labour to launch a proper investigation into Wavertree.

“It’s been a long-time coming. Keir Starmer needs to do the right thing – and fast.”

The JC understands that an investigation will be launched by Sir Keir. The JC has contacted the Labour Party for comment.


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