Jewish Member of UK Parliament ‘Bombarded’ With Death Threats as Election Approaches
A prominent Jewish member of the UK parliament spoke on Tuesday about the growing volume of threats she has received from political extremists as the British general election approaches on Dec. 12.
Ruth Smeeth — who has represented the Stoke-on-Trent North electoral district for the Labour party since 2015 — told local broadcaster StokeonTrentLive that she had been threatened by fanatics on both the left and right ends of the political spectrum.
Around half the threats have been antisemitic in nature, Smeeth revealed. The first death threat came when she was chosen as a candidate for the constituency in 2014 –and the situation had “snowballed” since then.
“Something horrible is happening,” Smeeth said. “There is a general election on and it will only get worse. I’m not asking for sympathy, I just feel like I need to put down a marker to say this is not normal and it is not acceptable.”
Smeeth has publicly opposed Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s tolerance of antisemitism in the party’s ranks.
The MP said that she no longer left her house on her own, and that her home and office had been turned into “fortresses” because she had been “bombarded” with death threats. Last Thursday, a death threat was hand-delivered to her office.
“Broadly speaking, none of the tangible threats have been from this area before, but I assume the one on Thursday was,” she said during her radio interview. “What made me think is that me and my team just treated it as something normal. The stuff that might have shocked us four years ago is now normal.”
Police had told Smeeth that she was “in the top 10 MPs that could be targeted,” she said.
“I think it’s because I’m Jewish, and because I’m a woman,” Smeeth said.
On Monday, Britain’s chief rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis, said Corbyn was unfit to be prime minister because he had failed to stem antisemitism “sanctioned from the top” and now gripping his party.