Dame Louise Ellman has resigned from the Labour Party after 55 years dedicated service.
The Liverpool Riverside MP made the “agonising decision” in a detailed statement, which included a damning indictment that leader Jeremy Corbyn is “not fit” to serve as Prime Minister.
Under his leadership, Dame Lousie said, anti-Semitism had become mainstream in the Labour Party. “Jewish members have been bullied, abused and driven out,” she noted. “Anti-Semites have felt comfortable and vile conspiracy theories have been propagated. A party that permits anti-Jewish racism to flourish cannot be called anti-racist.
“This is not compatible with the Labour Party’s values of equality, tolerance and respect for minorities. Shamefully, its anti-Jewish racism is now being investigated by one of the last labour government’s proudest creations, the Equality and Human Rights Commission.”
Dame Louise added, “The Labour Party is no longer a safe place for Jews and Jeremy Corbyn must bear the responsibility for this. We cannot allow him to do to the country what he has done to the Labour Party.”
She continued, “The overwhelming majority of the Jewish community is fearful of what a Corbyn government might mean for Britain’s Jews. I share those concerns. But this issue is not simply about the Jewish community. This is about the nature of our society. Jeremy Corbyn’s seeming tolerance of anti-Semitism would embolden racists, poison our public debate and damage the social cohesion of our country.
“My values – traditional Labour values – have remained the same. It is Labour, under Jeremy Corbyn, that has changed. He has presided over a culture of hatred, fear and intolerance in the Labour Party.
“But this issue is no longer just about the Labour Party – it is about the threat a Jeremy Corbyn premiership could pose to the country.”
Dame Louise thanked Labour MPs who had fought Labour’s antisemitism valiantly and local members who continued to speak out.
She will not join another party but hopes to return to Labour under different leadership.
Mike Katz, Jewish Labour Movement chairman, said Dame Louise was the second female Jewish MP to be “hounded out of her party” after Luciana Berger MP earlier this year who quit over the party’s handling of anti-Semitism allegations.
The former Liverpool Wavertree MP is favourite to win Finchley and Golders Green at a general election for the Liberal Democrats in a new poll.
Dame Margaret Hodge was “absolutely devastated” by the news, while Ruth Smeeth MP said Labour should be “ashamed” anti-Jewish hate and abuse is happening on their watch.
Jennifer Gerber, Labour Friends of Israel said Corbyn’s “abhorrent record” and appeal to anti-Jewish racists showed why British Jews feared him becoming Prime Minister.