xLabour MP and Jewish Labour Movement parliamentary chair Dame Margaret Hodge has announced she will be stepping down as an MP at the next general election.
The Barking MP – an outstanding campaigner against antisemitism under Jeremy Corbyn – broke the news to local members that she would not stand again on Thursday night.
Dame Margaret later spoke to Jewish News about her 27 years in Parliament admitting the time spent under Corbyn’s leadership were the “most difficult I have lived through.”
At the height of the antisemitism crisis Hodge had famously branded Corbyn a “racist and an antisemite” in a confrontation in Westminster.
She went on to speak at communal gathering across the country, urging Jewish Labour members to fight back against the scourge of anti-Jewish racism.
But unlike others Hodge believed in fighting the antisemitic activists from within the Labour Party.
Although she never begrudged those, such as Luciana Berger and Ian Austin, who felt it too much to remain in Corbyn’s party.
When the pro-Corbyn elements in her local party tried to oust her, the 75 year-old former Islington Council leader told her members about the scale of antisemitism she faced.
She told Jewish News of her pride at seeing how local Muslim members rallied to support her as she fought off a deselection bid.
She told Jewish News on Thursday evening : “I never dreamt that I would be involved in a vile battle against antisemitism in the Labour Party, but I came into politics to fight racism in our society so I could not ignore anti Jewish hatred in my own party.
“I first had to rise to this challenge when I fought the BNP in Barking, but the Corbyn years were the most difficult I have lived through.
“I am proud that we have succeeded and that we now have a leader who is committed to eradicating the antisemitism that infected our Party and is acting to deliver on that commitment.
“I hope that in the years to come, even when when I am no longer the MP for Barking, I can continue to fight racism wherever it manifests. We must, together, ensure this Never happens again.”
Elected to the Barking constituency in 1994, when Labour came to power in 1997 she was given ministerial roles in the education, culture and work and pensions departments.
She also become known for her robust questioning of witnesses when chairing the Public Accounts Committee.
In Parliament on Wednesday she urged the government to introduce a long awaited Bill to tackle economic fraud.
For many years Hodge operated as a parliamentarian outside of most communal issues.
But the emergence of antisemitism in Labour under Corbyn brought her close to the Board of Deputies and other lay bodies again.
She told Jewish News how comfortable she felt back amongst the Jewish communal organisations.
And she was inspired by the young radical voices in groups such as JLM.
Hodge said last night she had “loved the job” as an MP and the decision to leave had been “tough.”
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.
Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.
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.
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.