Independent MP Ian Austin has defended Dame Margaret Hodge after Lloyd Russell-Moyle questioned her motive for criticising by-election winner, Peterborough MP Lisa Forbes, over alleged anti-Semitism.
The Brighton Kemptown Labour MP also accused Dame Margaret of holding a “vendetta” against Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn since his 1983 election as Islington North MP.
Former Labour MP Austin, who represents Dudley North, described Russell-Moyle’s comments as a “complete disgrace”, adding, “The Labour Party either did not check or did not care what (Forbes) said and it shows once again how racism against Jewish people has become normal under Jeremy Corbyn.”
“Hodge is out of touch (with) modern Britain,” Russell-Moyle had noted on Twitter.
He added, “(Dame Margaret) attacks newly elected colleagues for no reason (even after heartfelt apologies). Anti-Semitism is problem in (Labour), I’ve had vile anti-Semites rightly kicked out locally. But to call someone an anti-Semite on base of concern with IHRA or liking a photos/video with text and abuse them in public, after they say they sorry and want to learn, is wrong.”
The Brighton Kemptown MP continued, “Hodge in 1983 was lined up by the right of party to be the MP for Islington North and as leader of the council was considered a shoe in. (Corbyn) stood as a rank and file member and won. She has never forgiven him and has dedicated her time to undermine him.”
Dame Margaret voiced her disdain to Corbyn over Forbes’ selection and failure to stamp down “institutional anti-Semitism” in the party at a PLP meeting on Monday.
At the meeting, Stoke MP Ruth Smeeth accused Corbyn of allowing “institutional anti-Jewish racism” on his watch.
“Jeremy, what are you doing?” she noted.
Dame Margaret fought back on social media against Russell-Moyle.
“I have loudly & repeatedly called out Labour anti-Semitism because we have a serious problem & leadership has failed to act,’ she noted.
Dame Margaret went on to call for Russell-Moyle to meet and talk through the issues.
Former Middle East minister Peter Hain together with Daniel Levy, adviser to Israeli Prime Ministers Ehud Barak and Yitzhak Rabin, has meantime warned Corbyn that ongoing anti-Semitism issues have hit the Israeli-Palestinian debate.
The duo has produced a detailed statement as a starting point for debate by the PLP.
“Denying the painful Jewish history that led to Israel’s establishment, or the attachment most Jews feel to the largest Jewish community in the world, Israel, does not advance the legitimate struggle of the Palestinians to achieve their full rights and freedoms in the face of Israel’s occupation and discriminatory policies,” they noted. “Labour must and can lead two struggles simultaneously, against antisemitism and for Middle East peace and justice.
Hain and Levy added, “Labour’s debilitating anti-Semitism crisis has so far focused upon process, are those charged with anti-Semitic behaviour being properly disciplined by the Party’s leadership or not? But a procedural solution cannot resolve what is primarily a political problem. Unless the political roots of the problem, which have become a crisis, are honestly confronted, the Party will neither be able to regain nor will it be deserving of the broad support necessary to win general elections.
“Somehow the Party has managed both to alienate the vast majority of Jewish members and the Jewish community while doing nothing to advance the debate on Israel/Palestine, let alone justice for Palestinians.
“Classic left-wing anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic tropes of global conspiratorial capitalist cabals and class enemies has further poisoned the debate. A new way is needed to both respect the Jewish community including the wellbeing of the world’s largest Jewish community (Israel), while at the same time supporting critical debate about both the abhorrent treatment of Palestinians by successive Israeli governments and future possible solutions for Israel/Palestine.
“We must eradicate the curse of anti-Semitism paralysing the Labour Party whilst allowing space for genuine argument about all legitimate options for the future of Israelis and Palestinians.”
By Leah Waxler