Louise Ellman: former chair of Labour Friends of Israel rejoins Labour just as the party agrees to demand sanctions against that country for its apartheid policies and mistreatment of Palestinians.
Louise Ellman, who quit the Labour Party in 2019 ahead of a deselection vote in the Liverpool Riverside constituency based on her insistence on lying about anti-Semitism, has rejoined.
The readmission of the woman who was chair of Labour Friends of Israel coincides with the party’s decision to demand sanctions against Israel for its policy of apartheid towards Palestinians. This Writer can’t wait to see what she does when she is called on to support the new policy!
Which side of this embarrassment for Starmer shall we examine first? Ellman.
On the BBC Panorama mockery-of-a-documentary Is Labour Antisemitic? Ellman attacked members of the Constituency Labour Party at Liverpool Riverside, whose Parliamentary seat she occupied at the time.
She told us that while she would come to meetings wanting to discuss domestic issues that are at the heart of Labour’s policy platform (like the NHS), she would be confronted about the Middle East, matters would become unpleasant and people would leave those meetings in tears.
She did not mention the fact that she has been a chair of the Jewish Labour Movement and vice-chair of Labour Friends of Israel (she took the chair later), and has been an active spokeswoman in Parliament on issues relating to the Middle East. Nor was it stated anywhere else in the documentary. It seems to me that questions about her opinions on this subject may well be justified in such a situation.
She also lied many times about then-Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. Here’s just one example that led to the exposure of her own dishonesty:
She attacked Mr Corbyn for having attended a meeting in 2010 when Holocaust survivor Hajo Meyer was a speaker. The claim was that Mr Meyer – a Holocaust survivor who was at Auschwitz, remember – was an anti-Semite because he criticised the behaviour of the current Israeli government in no uncertain terms.
Ms Ellman said she had been “appalled” to find out about the event. In fact, it was revealed, she attended it herself and was present during the whole of Mr Meyer’s speech, which was heckled shamelessly by a small but loud group of Zionists. It seems she sat quiet and unmoved throughout this incident and only spoke up about it when she saw a chance to damage Mr Corbyn’s reputation with a false claim.
The ‘trigger’ vote, on whether she would need to seek her constituency’s backing to continue as its Labour candidate, meant a vote of “no confidence” in her was taken off the table.
Ms Ellman had previously refused to tell a CLP meeting whether she would support a Corbyn government. Her resignation seemed an acceptance that her lies had caught up with her and that she would not have survived a ‘trigger’ vote and the selection procedure that would have followed.
Other false accusations by Ellman against Mr Corbyn may be found here.
The attraction to Keir Starmer of welcoming such a liar back into the Labour Party should be clear; Starmer himself has also lied about Jeremy Corbyn – most notably in his reasons for suspending Mr Corbyn after the previous Labour leader responded to the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s report on whether Labour was “institutionally anti-Semitic” (it wasn’t).
Initially, in explaining Mr Corbyn’s suspension, Starmer had said anyone claiming anti-Semitism in Labour was “all exaggerated” was part of the problem. But Mr Corbyn had not done so. He had – rightly – said that the scale of the problem had been “dramatically overstated”, and provided accurate figures to prove it.
Starmer tried to claim that he had not been personally responsible for the decision to suspend Mr Corbyn (on the same day the EHRC had warned Labour that politicians like the party leader should not interfere with disciplinary decisions) – but former Unite union leader Len McCluskey has said this was not true: “His words were: ‘He put me in an impossible position and I had no choice.’”
More information on Starmer’s lies are here.
The motion supported by Labour conference delegates
demands action that stops “the building of settlements, reverses any annexation, ends the occupation of the West Bank, the blockade of Gaza”.
Sanctions should also be imposed to ensure Israel “brings down the Wall [in the West Bank] and respects the right of Palestinian people, enshrined in international law, to return to their homes”, it states.
The motion notes the reports by human rights groups that “conclude unequivocally that Israel is practising the crime of apartheid as defined by the UN”.
I understand that the motion was tabled by Young Labour:
Shadow Foreign Secretary Lisa Nandy said the leadership could not support the motion – which is hardly surprising since it puts Keir Starmer, herself and all the other pondslime in a contradictory position:
But refusing to accept the decision is not an option, for a very important reason:
In the Labour Party, the will of conference is sovereign. It is described as “the ultimate authority in the party”.
If Starmer and the others try to act as if the vote hasn’t happened, just because they don’t like it, then they open the door for hundreds of thousands of Labour members to reject the votes they don’t like – such as the changes to leadership election rules or to disciplinary procedures. The result would be chaos.
The only real choice, if they really cannot accept the will of the party, is for Starmer and the others to resign their membership. In Ellwood’s case, that would be hugely ironic.
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