Antisemitism in Modern Society

Part of Exiting the European Union (Agriculture) – in the House of Commons at 6:20 pm on 20th February 2019.

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Photo of Ruth Smeeth Ruth Smeeth Labour, Stoke-on-Trent North 6:20 pm, 20th February 2019

I beg the indulgence of the House. I have never stood before to make a speech in the House without notes and without something explicit to say. I never thought that I would do so on an issue so important to me, because I would be so emotional about it. I beg the indulgence of the House for the next six minutes.

A year ago, I stood in this House and read out some of my greatest hits. I got huge solidarity, and lots of people, both within the Labour party and outside, stood with me and Luciana Berger, Dame Margaret Hodge and Dame Louise Ellman as we continued our fight—a fight I never thought I would have to have inside my own party, and I promise one that I never wanted. As much as I would love to—not love; happily—share the ongoing abuse that has happened over the past 12 months, I say with respect to everybody in the Chamber that it simply is not about us. It is about the chilling effect that this is having on people outside. It is about the young women who should be joining the Labour party who no longer have a political home. It is about those young women and young men who have decided that their identity stops them getting politically involved. It is for them that we continue this fight. It is for them that I stay on my Benches, inside my party. It is for them that I will fight every single day to ensure that antisemitism is removed from my party.

I say to the leadership of my party that one antisemite is too many. It should not be the case that I or my colleagues have to mention the names of antisemites either in this Room—in this wonderful Chamber—or to the parliamentary Labour party for someone to be thrown out. I would like to report to the House that Derek Hatton has been suspended from the Labour party. It took a complaint by my friend Barry Gardiner, and for that to be mentioned in the House.

I am sick and tired, and my heart is breaking a little more every day, because of what I have to experience and what I have to read. I am devastated that my closest political sister in this House has been hounded out of my party, but I have a message for everybody. I will not be silenced. I am going nowhere, and they will have to take my membership card away from me, because this is too important—not for me, not for you, but for the people we represent outside.

I want to say thank you to everybody who has supported us. I want to say thank you to the CST, which has kept me safe. I want to say thank you to the police, who have kept me safe, and I want to say thank you to the Government, who have been there when my own party has not, which is shameful. But this fight continues, and it continues on behalf of is all. Everybody should grant the CST more money, and they should support and join the APPG. Now is the time not only for words, not only for things in the Chamber, but for action, because we so desperately need it.