‘My relatives were murdered in the gas chamber’: Jewish Labour MP defends calling Corbyn a ‘f***ing anti-Semite’ as she reveals her grandparents who were murdered by Hitler fuel her fight to confront racism in her own party
- Dame Margaret Hodge confronted the Labour leader yesterday over the row
- Jeremy Corbyn’s office today said action will be taken against her over tirade
- Move sparked fierce criticism form Labour MPs who says she deserves apology
- Follows row over failure to accept widespread definition of anti-Semitism
- Theresa May accused Jeremy Corbyn of failing to tackle anti-Semitism in PMQs
A Jewish MP who called Jeremy Corbyn a ‘f***ing anti-Semite and racist’ has doubled down on her words explaining that her grandparents were murdered by Hitler during the Holocaust and she would not abide the same hatred in her own party.
Dame Margaret Hodge accused the Labour leader of standing by and allowing the party to be infected by anti-Semitism and reiterated her desire to fight it.
In a moving article in The Guardian, Dame Margaret issued an emotional defence of her attack on Mr Corbyn hours after his office said she would be disciplined for the attack.
Former minister Dame Margaret Hodge confronted the Labour leader in the Commons after yesterday’s votes on Brexit. The heated exchange took place behind the Speaker’s chair out of range of the cameras. She now faces disciplinary action for her comments
She wrote: ‘Under his leadership the Labour party is perceived by most Jews, thousands of party members and millions of members of the public as an anti-Semitic, and therefore racist, party.
‘As our leader, he is now perceived by many as an anti-Semite.’
She added: ‘I am a Jew. My grandmother and my uncle were murdered by Hitler and many cousins and other relatives were slaughtered in the gas chambers.
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‘Indeed, my grandfather was one of six siblings; we are the only surviving line left and that was because my parents were in Egypt when the war broke out.
‘I joined the Labour party to fight racism. In the 1960s the Labour party was the natural home for Jews. To find myself 50 years later, in 2018, confronting antisemitism in my own party is completely and utterly awful.’
Dame Margaret unleashed the initial tirade against Mr Corbyn yesterday amid widespread fury at the party leadership’s refusal to use the international definition of anti-Semitism in its disciplinary cases.
Dame Margaret – who beat the BNP leader Nick Griffin in the 2010 election – said she told Mr Corbyn what many others were thinking.
She said that she and other Jewish MPs have had a rising tide of anti-Semitic abuse hurled at them – but the leadership have failed to act.
And she tore into the watered down definition of anti-Semitism being used by the Labour Party – saying that it means that racists can call Zionists ‘Nazis’and not be kicked out of the party.
She added: ‘The arrogance displayed by the Labour leadership takes one’s breath away.’
She added: ‘I chose to confront Jeremy directly and personally to express my anger and outrage. I stand by my action as well as my words.’
Theresa May today tore into Jeremy Corbyn for refusing to use the international definition of anti-Semitism to tackle racism in his party.
Dame Margaret was praised by many of her colleagues for daring to confront Mr Corbyn, who has been widely condemned for failing to tackle the racism in the party.
But Mr Corbyn’s official spokesman said ‘action will be taken’ – but refused to reveal the precise nature of the action being brought against the MP for Barking, in east London.
He said: ‘Under the terms of PLP [Parliamentary Labour Party] rules, behaviour has to be respectful between colleagues and not bring the party into disrepute.
‘The behaviour was clearly unacceptable between colleagues. Jeremy’s door is always open to discussions with members of the PLP. Action will be taken.’
The news sparked fury among Labour MP who said Dame Margaret should be given a full apology by the Labour leadership – not given dark threats.
Theresa May (pictured left in PMQs today) today tore into Jeremy Corbyn (pictured right in PMQs today) for refusing to use the international definition of anti-Semitism to tackle racism in his party
Wes Streeting, a Labour MP who has criticised the the leadership’s handling of anti-Semitism, said Dame Margaret Hodge shoud be given an apology
Mr Streeting is a vocal critics of Jeremy Corbyn accusing him of failing to tackle anti-Semitism among his supporters
He heaped praise on Margaret Hodge for battling racism and fascism all her life
Wes Streeting, a Labour MP who has criticised the the leadership’s handling of anti-Semitism, said: ‘If only ‘senior Labour sources’ could respond so swiftly to complaints about antisemitism within our ranks.
‘The stench of hypocrisy is overwhelming. Dame Margaret is a first class parliamentarian and MP.
‘She beat back the BNP in Barking, she’s not about to be intimidated by off the record briefing – and she’s not alone.’
And many other Labour MPs also piled in.
Labour MP Ben Bradshaw said: ‘It would be very ill-judged for anyone in the Labour Party to escalate a row with Margaret Hodge – who saw off the BNP in her patch – particularly while doing nothing about the 4 ‘Labour’ MPs & 1 suspended ex ‘Labour’ MP who saved the Tory Government last night.’
Labour MP Darren Jones said: ‘The wonderful Margaret Hodge has my full support – a colleague I wouldn’t challenge lightly given her record in decimating the BNP.
‘The Labour Party should adopt the IHRA definition in full and make it clear anti-Semitism, of any kind, is not welcome.’
Ian Austin said: ‘Imagine if Jeremy and his team were as quick to take action against the people responsible for racism as they are with the people complaining about it.’
And Karen Pollock, chief executive o the Holocaust Education Trust, said: Extraordinary and just appalling.
‘How about taking action *against* anti-Semites rather than against those calling antisemitism out?? Unbelievable. I stand with Margaret Hodge.’
The news came after Theresa May today tore into Mr Corbyn for refusing to use the international definition of anti-Semitism to tackle racism in his party.
The chief executive of the Holocaust Education Trust slammed the labour leadership over the move
Labour MP Angela Smith piled in t criticise Jeremy Corbyn’s office over issuing the dark threat of taking action
Labour MP Ben Bradshaw said Dame Margaret Hodge saw off the fascist BNP – and warned disciplinary action would not be popular
Labour MP Darren Jones added his voice to the growing chorus of criticism
Labour MP Ian Austin said Jeremy Corbyn would be better off concentrating on trying to tackle anti-Semitism
The Prime Minister said religious leaders have warned he is sending a ‘message of contempt’ to the Jewish community.
And in a fiery tirade against the Labour leader, she said that ‘anti-Semitism is racism – you should accept that.’
Instead Mr Corbyn and his allies want to use a definition which would allow poeple to say Israel is a racist endeavour.
Many MPs rounded on the Labour leader shouting ‘shame’ at him as the issue of his failure to tackle anti-Semitism in his party was raised in the Commons.
Labour MP John Woodcock quits party and accuses Jeremy Corbyn of tolerating anti-Semitism
John Woodcock, who has been suspended over sexual harassment allegations, said the process against him was being ‘manipulated for factional purposes’. He is pictured asking a question at PMQs today
An MP dramatically quit the Labour Party today complaining about a witch-hunt by Jeremy Corbyn’s hard-left allies.
John Woodcock, who was suspended three months ago over sexual harassment allegations, said the process against him was being ‘manipulated for factional purposes’.
He said he no long believed the party under Mr Corbyn would return to the ‘mainstream inclusive electoral force’ he once knew, pointing to ‘tolerance of anti-Semitism’.
Mr Woodcock told Labour chiefs last month that he would not attend a ‘tainted’ disciplinary hearing into claims that he sent inappropriate texts and messages to a female aide.
In his resignation letter today, Mr Woodcock said he was going because Mr Corbyn had refused to appoint an ‘independent investigator to rule on my disciplinary case and in the light of clear evidence that the process has been manipulated for factional purposes’.
‘First and foremost let me make clear that I was elected to put the people of Barrow and Furness first, no matter how difficult or controversial. I have promised to fight for local jobs, promote a credible alternative government, protect the shipyard and ensure the safety of my constituents through strong defence and national security.
‘I now believe more strongly than ever that you have made the Labour Party unfit to deliver those promises and would pose a clear risk to UK national security as Prime Minister.
‘The party for which I have campaigned since I was a boy is no longer the broad church it has always historically been.
‘Anti-Semitism is being tolerated and Labour has been taken over at nearly every level by the hard left, far beyond the dominance they achieved at the height of 1980s militancy.
‘There is little chance of returning the Labour Party to the inclusive, mainstream electoral force my constituents desperately need. In these circumstances, I can no longer justify engaging in a rigged process to be re-admitted to it.’
Lashing the Labour leader, the PM said all political parties should adopt the agreed international definition.
She said: ‘The Conservative party has done that, but sadly the Labour Party does not agree.
‘The Labour Party is trying to redefine a anti-Semitism to allow people to say that Israel is a racist endeavour.
‘The Chief Rabbi says that what the labour party is doing is sending an unprecedented message of contempt for British Jews. Even some of his own MPs are saying it is anti-Semitic.
‘Anti -Semitism is racism. The Labour party should accept that, the right honourable gentleman should accept that, and we should all sign up – as the Conservative Party has done – to the definition of the international holocaust remembrance alliance and all its annexes.’
Mr Corbyn has repeatedly been accused of refusing to tackle anti-Semitism- allowing it to spread among his supporters.
And the row exploded again last night when the party’s ruling body – which is packed full of allies of the Labour leader – refused to take up the international definition of anti-Semitism.
Dame Margaret confronted Mr Corbyn in an extraordinary outburst in which she accused him of being a racist.
The heated exchange took place behind the Speaker’s chair out of range of the cameras, according to the Huffington Post.
She told him: ‘You’re a ****ing anti-Semite and a racist. You have proved you don’t want people like me in the party.’
One witness said that Mr Corbyn replied: ‘I’m sorry you feel like that.’ A Labour Party source said: ‘She was aggressive, Jeremy was calm.
‘Other MPs who were there were upset by it.’
Mr Corbyn is expected to invite her to a private meeting to explain yesterday’s decision.
Dame Margaret, a former chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, is a long-standing critic of Mr Corbyn and was among the two senior MPs who triggered a vote of no confidence in his leadership in 2016.
She has been a relentless critic of Mr Corbyn’s stance on anti-Semitism and previously branded him the ‘poster boy of anti-Semites everywhere’.
The row came after the party’s leadership decided not to accept the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of anti-Semitism – in defiance of Jewish leaders and its own MPs.
Labour instead updated its code of conduct to state that anti-Semitism is ‘racism’ and ‘unacceptable’, stopping short of several examples of anti-Semitism according to the IHRA definition, such as accusing Jewish people of being more loyal to Israel than their home country.
The IHRA definition has been widely accepted, including by the Crown Prosecution Service.
At a meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party on Monday, MPs and peers overwhelmingly backed calls for the full wording to be adopted.
Jeremy Corbyn has been called a ‘****ing anti-Semite’ by a veteran Jewish Labour MP following a bitter row over the party’s failure to accept a widespread definition of anti-Semitism
Labour member Tal Ofer announced his resignation from the party when the decision was announced. He explained his reasons in a lengthy Twitter thread (extracts are pictured)
Last night former Labour leadership candidate MP Chuka Umunna said the party’s treatment of the Jewish community met the Macpherson report’s definition of institutional racism
Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis warned that a failure to do this would ‘send an unprecedented message of contempt to the Jewish community’.
Why does the Labour document trigger new controversy?
Labour’s new rules on anti-Semitism are based on the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). The party said they are the ‘most detailed and comprehensive guidelines on anti-Semitism adopted by any political party in this country’.
But it has sparked further controversy, as it omits four behaviours identified as anti-Semitic by the IHRA, including:
- Accusing Jewish people of being more loyal to Israel than their home country;
- Claiming that Israel’s existence as a state is a racist endeavour;
- Requiring higher standards of behaviour from Israel than other nations; and
- Comparing contemporary Israeli policies to those of the Nazis.
But Labour’s National Executive Committee signed off its version at a meeting yesterday. Labour MPs took to Twitter to vent their fury.
Jewish Labour former leader Ed Miliband said the party should adopt the full definition.
He said: ‘The argument that it is somehow incompatible with criticising the actions of the Israeli government is wrong. The views of the vast majority of the Jewish community are very clear.’
Labour MP Ian Austin said the move was ‘utterly shameful’. He added: ‘I am ashamed to be a member of the Labour Party.’
Deputy Labour leader Tom Watson reportedly told the meeting: ‘Are we serious about dealing with anti-Semitism?
‘ We need to grip this issue and close it down. The people who will judge us on this are the Jewish community and rightly so.’
Labour officials drew up the code in the wake of protests by Jewish groups outside Parliament earlier this year and a steady drip of stories about anti-Semitism within the party.
The Jewish Labour Movement said: ‘The Labour Party has acted in a deliberate and offensive reckless manner in believing it understands the needs of a minority community better than the community itself.’
A Labour Party spokesman said the NEC had ‘agreed to re-open the development of the code, in consultation with Jewish community organisations and groups, in order to better reflect their views’.
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