The former MP quit in 2019 with a furious attack on Jeremy Corbyn. Now she has rejoined Labour hours after the party conference approved a new complaints procedure
Image: Julian Hamilton/Daily Mirror)
Former MP Louise Ellman today announced she is re-joining the Labour Party two years after she quit over anti-Semitism.
“Under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, antisemitism has become mainstream in the Labour Party,” she said at the time.
Today she announced she would rejoin – “returning to my political home”.
It came hours after Labour’s conference approved a new complaints procedure for racism complaints by a narrow margin. The Mirror understands Dame Louise’s readmission had been privately discussed weeks before conference.
She wrote in a statement: “I am confident that, under the leadership of Keir Starmer, the party is once again led by a man of principle in whom the British people and Britain’s Jews can have trust.
“Whilst there remains a great deal more to do to tackle antisemitism in the party, I am encouraged by the steps already taken and the progress made so far.”
Dame Louise, who was an MP for more than 20 years, stood down in the 2019 general election a few weeks after she broke with the party.
The decision is a victory for Keir Starmer, who had said he would not be happy until members who left due to anti-Semitism felt they could rejoin.
Sir Keir said: “Louise Ellman re-joining our Party is a poignant moment. Her courage and dignity in standing up against appalling abuse is testament to her Labour values. I am heartened to know that her faith in our party has been restored enough for her to return to her political home.”
Labour had published its plan for a major overhaul in response to the highly-damning report by the equality watchdog into its handling of the issue of anti-Semitism.
Opening a debate last night, Labour’s National Executive Committee member Mark Ferguson said: “I want to start, from this chair, on behalf of the whole party to say sorry to our Jewish members.
“Sorry to our Jewish members, supporters and those in the wider community. Rest assured it will not happen again.”
Reforms backed at the party’s conference last night include a fully independent complaints process to tackle anti-Semitism.
Former Labour MP Ruth Smeeth, from the Jewish Labour Movement, said she felt “sick” being in Brighton as she feared receiving more abuse.
But she struck a defiant tone as she insisted the party is “turning the page on the blight of anti-Semitism that has infected” the party, adding to the abusers: “You failed. We’re still here.”
In her statement today, Dame Louise added: “The rule changes accepted by conference this week are an important step to ensure the party’s disciplinary processes are fit for purpose, a vital part of tackling antisemitism in the party.
The Labour party should never have allowed and tolerated the growth of racism within its ranks.
“The findings of the Equality and Human Rights Commission — and the behaviour of the previous leadership — remain a disgrace and represent the darkest period in the party’s history.”
Dame Louise also used her statement to condemn a motion passed by Labour conference delegates today on Israel and Palestine.
The motion noted “settlement building and annexation” by Israel were “‘another significant step’ towards the UN Crime of Apartheid”. It also resolved to support “effective measures, including sanctions” against actions “by the Israeli government that are illegal according to international law”.
Kamel Hawwash, chair of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, said the “important and historic motion represents a significant step for the Labour party in acknowledging the reality of the system of apartheid imposed by Israel on Palestinians.”
But Dame Louise wrote: “The disgraceful motion passed today, singling out the world’s only Jewish state for pernicious and morally perverse boycotts, shows there are still too many in the party who are more obsessed with demonising Israel than reaching a solution to this tragic conflict.
“It is crucial that the party as a whole ends the disproportionate attacks on Israel. Labour will not win back the trust of the Jewish community whilst the Jewish state is continually demonised and smeared.”