Margaret Hodge to step down at next election after 27 years as an MP
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Margaret Hodge to step down at next election after 27 years as an MP

Recalling her political career, the veteran Jewish politician says the years under Jeremy Corbyn were ‘the most difficult I've lived through’

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Dame Margaret Hodge, Parliamentary Chair of the Jewish Labour Movement, during a press conference by the JLM at the offices of Mishcon de Reya in London, following the publication of damming anti-Semitism report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).
Dame Margaret Hodge, Parliamentary Chair of the Jewish Labour Movement, during a press conference by the JLM at the offices of Mishcon de Reya in London, following the publication of damming anti-Semitism report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).

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.

Dame Margaret Hodge. Photo credit: Yui Mok/PA Wire

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.”

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