Former Barnsley MP intends to quit Labour amid concerns over anti-semitism

Former Labour vice chairman Michael Dugher has revealed he is intending to leave the party, saying he now regards it as "institutionally anti-semitic."

Monday, 18th February 2019, 06:07 am
Updated Monday, 18th February 2019, 06:12 am

Mr Dugher, who was elected as MP for Barnsley East in 2010 and left Parliament in May 2017, claimed the party he joined nearly three decades ago "no longer exists."

Former MP Michael Dugher.

He served as vice chairman of the party under Doncaster North MP Ed Miliband between 2011 and 2014 and later became shadow secretary for transport and culture.

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Labour disclosed this week it had received 673 allegations of anti-semitism by its members over the past 10 months, leading to 12 individuals being expelled.

A party spokesman said the numbers involved amounted to around 0.1 per cent of the total membership roll, but added: "One anti-semite in our party is one too many."

Writing in the Sun on Sunday, Mr Dugher said the Labour party had repeatedly failed to "adequately tackle anti-semitism."

He said: "I will continue to have lots of dear friends in the Labour Party, including many talented MPs and hard-working local councillors who are fantastically dedicated public servants.

"Yet in all good conscience, I can no longer justify paying subs to a party which I now regard as institutionally anti-semitic."

He said situations where prominent Jewish Labour MPs - Ruth Smeeth and Luciana Berger - needed police protection "made him want to cry", and expressed concern at the "attitude" of shadow chancellor John McDonnell after Ms Berger was facing a vote of no confidence from her local party.

Mr McDonnell suggested the move to censure the MP was due to concern she may join a breakaway party, not over her attacks on party leader Jeremy Corbyn's handling of anti-semitism.

Mr Corbyn came under intense pressure last year over allegations that under his leadership Labour had not taken enough action to deal with anti-Semitic remarks and behaviour among its ranks.

In September, the ruling National Executive Committee adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance's definition in full, after coming under attack for initially omitting some of its examples of anti-semitic behaviour.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell admitted Labour had not been "fast enough" in dealing with anti-semitism.

He said the party's general secretary Jennie Formby had doubled the staff, brought in a senior lawyer and multiplied the number of committees dealing with the issue.

He told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: “We've got to be ruthless about this.”