Starmer: Ruth Smeeth exemplifies the values of my Labour Party

Labour leader picks JLM vice-chair Ms Smeeth to introduce his speech as he repeated pledge to 'root out' antisemitism


Sir Keir Starmer has used his debut party conference speech as Labour leader to praise the former MP Ruth Smeeth as someone who would “exemplify the values” of his party.

In a move clearly designed to emphasise his commitment to removing the stain of antisemitism from the party, Ms Smeeth, the current vice-chair of the Jewish Labour Movement was chosen to give an introduction to Sir Keir ahead of his speech in Doncaster on Tuesday.

As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic Labour had scrapped their annual conference gathering - but have been holding a virtual event this week.

Ms Smeeth – who found herself subjected to vicious social media attacks from Jeremy Corbyn supporters after her confrontation with the expelled activist Mark Wadsworth at the launch of the Chakrabarti report into anti-Jewish racism – said: “It has been difficult to be Jewish in the Labour Party in recent years.

“We lost too many friends who were bullied out of the party and too many people who have been hurt by visceral racism that should have no place in our movement.”

The former Stoke on Trent North MP, who had accepted that Brexit would happen ahead of the last election despite Labour’s unclear message on the critical issue, added that she was convinced Sir Keir was “determined to eradicate the stain of antisemitism – no if’s, no buts”.

As he appeared at the lectern to deliver his speech to the empty hall, Sir Keir praised Ms Smeeth’s “powerful introduction”, adding he knew “how hard the last few years have been.

“You exemplify the values I want the Labour Party to stand for.”

In his speech, Sir Keir set out to differentiate his leadership from that of Mr Corbyn. He said: “I promised on my first day as leader that I would root out antisemitism.

“We are making progress and we will root it out once and for all.”

Sir Keir also attacked Mr Corbyn over his lack of patriotism and criticised the former leader’s supporters for blaming the electorate for Labour’s failure at the last election.

He said: “When you lose an election in a democracy, you deserve to. You don’t look at the electorate and ask them: 'what were you thinking?' You look at yourself and ask: 'what were we doing?'"

He also sought to stress his credentials as a former head of the Crown Prosecution Service, in contrast to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s record.

A JLM  spokesperson later said they were "proud" to see Ms Smeeth introduce Sir Keir's keynote speech. "It's another clear signal he means business when he says he wants to tackle antisemitism problem."




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