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September 29, 2019 5:50 pm

UK Labour Party Seeks to Oust Longtime Jewish MP, Opponent of Antisemitism in the Party

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

Margaret Hodge stands by her accusation of antisemitism against Jeremy Corybn in a BBC interview. Image: BBC News.

A long-time leading Member of Parliament for the UK’s Labour party who is outspoken on the problem of antisemitism in the party is facing a campaign to oust her from office.

Dame Margaret Hodge, who is Jewish, has been forced into a “reselection” race — essentially a local party primary — by left-wing activists, according to local media reports.

Hodge has been one of the most fervent critics of party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who is widely seen as antisemitic. Famously, she told Corbyn to his face that he was “an antisemite and a racist.”

“I am obviously disappointed,” Hodge said in response to the reselection news.

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“My priority remains serving the people of Barking as I have done for the last 25 years,” she added. “At a vital time for the country, with a general election looming, we should be focusing our efforts on holding Boris Johnson and the Tories to account.”

“I will work to secure the full backing of Barking Labour party, so I can continue to play my part as their MP in doing that,” she said.

The Jewish Labour Movement, a century-old Jewish faction within the Labour party that has been a strong opponent of antisemitism among party members, said of the news, “Margaret Hodge has been a steadfast campaigner against racism, fascism, and intolerance throughout her political life.”

“This is a shameful moment for a party which claims to embody the values of equality and diversity,” the group added. “She has been the target of vicious smears, derision, and antisemitism because she has been resolute in her opposition to anti-Jewish racism.”

Labour’s former deputy leader, Harriet Harman, said she was “dismayed more than I can say,” the UK’s Daily Mail reported.

“Margaret Hodge, scourge of tax avoiders, racists, and antisemitism. Champion of progressive policies. Hyperactive local MP. Surely this cannot stand!” she asserted.

Fiona Sharpe, a spokeswoman for Labour Against Antisemitism, which opposes antisemitism from within the party, said that Hodge’s reselection is “further evidence of the hostility towards Jews that is endemic within the Labour Party.”

Referencing Jewish MP Luciana Berger, who quit the party earlier this year over antisemitism, Sharpe said, “Now it appears another Jewish woman who has also been critical of anti-Jewish racism is being targeted.”

According to The Huffington Post, a local source denied Hodge was being targeted over antisemitism, saying, “This wasn’t a Corbyn inspired plot.”

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