Dame Louise Ellman: I’ll only re-join Labour when ‘toxicity’ is removed

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Dame Louise Ellman: I’ll only re-join Labour when ‘toxicity’ is removed

Veteran politician confirmed to Jewish News she was waiting for further action to be taken in local party groups across the UK before making any decision on returning to the fold

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Dame Louise Ellman
Dame Louise Ellman

Dame Louise Ellman has said she will only re-join Labour once the “toxicity” that still exists amongst the membership of some local constituency branches has been removed.

Speaking to the Jewish News after a report in last week’s Sunday Times claimed she was ready to deliver a first anniversary gift to Sir Keir Starmer by joining Labour again, the Jewish former MP confirmed she was waiting for further action to be taken at local party groups across the UK before making any decision.

Dame Louise had quit Labour after being a member for over 55 years ahead of the 2019 general election citing former leader Jeremy Corbyn’s failure over antisemitism.

“I am convinced Keir Starmer is genuine in his attempts to rid the party of the stain of anti-Jewish racism,” the 75 year-old said on Tuesday.

“But there are too many people across various constituencies who are toxic.

“I am waiting for this toxicity to be removed before I make any decision on re-joining.

“I just think the party should be doing a bit more.”

The Jewish Labour Movement’s honorary president, and the vice-chair of Labour Friends of Israel, said she recognised that it might never be possible to erase all antisemitic conduct from Labour.

“Of course there are always going to be some examples of conduct that might be deemed to be antisemitic – every political party, unfortunately, has some issue in this respect,” she said.

“It’s just that I want to see the party that I am considering re-joining doing a bit more in tackling the problem on their own doorstep.”

Dame Louise also hit out at the mounting criticism of the current Labour leader as his first anniversary at the helm of the party passed.

“I think there is currently a trend where everyone is rubbishing what Keir has done over the past year – and I do not like that,” she said.

“I eventually want to go back to the party, and I acknowledge there has been a culture change under the current leader.”

“There has not been enough recognition of what Keir has actually managed to do and what he is trying to achieve.”

Under Mr Starmer, the party has embarked on widespread suspensions of members who are accused of being problematic at party meetings, including many who are accused of antisemitism.

But some Jewish Labour veterans remain concerned that suspensions do not always result of proper punishment for some repeat offenders.

Dame Louise quit Labour in October 2019 writing that “under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, antisemitism has become mainstream in the Labour Party. Jewish members have been bullied, abused and driven out. ”

Her Liverpool Riverside Party responded by saying “The Labour Party recognises the hard work and commitment Louise has shown to her constituents over the past 22 years. Unfortunately she made it very clear at the last CLP meeting that she could not support a Jeremy Corbyn led government. ”

Dame Louise had become leader of Lancashire County Council in 1977 and was elected as an MP in Liverpool in 1997.

The Jewish News understands that her concerns over “toxic” party members relates to cases across the country rather than just in her former North West seat.


Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...


Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.


There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.


In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.


Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more: