Starmer praises LFI for ‘giving me the space to judge me on what I did’

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Starmer praises LFI for ‘giving me the space to judge me on what I did’

Speaking at a packed Labour Friends of Israel reception - along with front benchers Rachel Reeves and David Lammy - Keir Starmer thanks the group for their support admitting 'You didn't have to do that after the years that went before'

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Keir Starmer addresses Labour Friends of Israel reception in Liverpool at party conference
Keir Starmer addresses Labour Friends of Israel reception in Liverpool at party conference

Labour leader Keir Starmer has heaped praise on the Labour Friends of Israel organisation by telling supporters at a packed conference reception event:”You took the chance to give me the space to judge me on what I did, not on what I said.”

In an apparent reference to his time in former leader Jeremy Corbyn’s cabinet he told the audience :”You didn’t have to do that after the years that went before.

“All I asked for was the space to demonstrate what I would do, and you gave me that space.

“We wouldn’t be here today with a changed Labour Party facing an electorate with confidence if you hadn’t done that.

“When we go into government, and we will, you’ll be inscribed on the foundation stone as part of the his story.”

David Lammy speaks at LFI event

Starmer also wished the best of luck to Labour’s Israeli sister party, led by Merav Michaeli, for the upcoming elections on 1 November, saying: “we’re rooting for you”.

Tuesday evening’s event was notable for the appearance of not just the Labour leader, but also shadow foreign secretary David Lammy, and shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves, along with Christian Wakeford, who all spoke to the 300 strong capacity audience.

Reeves appeared emotional as she told the crowd:”I am so proud to be a Labour friend of Israel.”

She added:””We have been through some really difficult times as a party over the last years, very difficult times.

“Keir (Starmer) got a lot of standing ovations when he spoke today, but I think the one that was most special was when the hall rose in harmony together, to say we are a party that opposes all forms of racism, and opposes antisemitism.”

The night’s keynote speaker was Emilie Moatti, an Israeli Labor Knesset member who has attended Labour Conference throughout this week.

She celebrated Labour’s record in government in “honouring the principles of solidarity and internationalism, fighting racism and antisemitism at home and supporting the world’s sole Jewish state overseas”.

She also urged Labour members to “stand with Israeli progressives” and “stand up for peace, two states and a brighter future for Israelis and Palestinians alike”.

Shadow Foreign Secretary David Lammy talked about his longstanding support for LFI in his 22 years in Parliament, as well as welcoming Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid’s commitment to a two state solution at the UN General Assembly last week.

To loud applause Lammy said:”The Labour Party is back – in the mainstream of the political field. ”

He said there was now a “hope, a belief” in the party.

In another poignant reference, he referred to the support he received from Jewish lawyers at the start of his legal career at Harvard University.

Bury South MP Wakeford told of his pride to speak at an LFI event, as his last engagement at his first ever Labour conference.

The long-time supporter of Israel had quit the Conservatives earlier this year, but revealed he had received a warm reception from delegates throughout the Liverpool conference.

Oren Marmorstein, Israel’s deputy ambassador to the UK, also delivered a frank and warm speech, admitting he felt he was once again amongst “friends” at a Labour Party event, while warning about the danger posed not just to Israel, but to the globe, by Iran’s regime.

LFI chair Steve McCabe used his comments at the reception to launch a major Labour Friends of Israel publication, Steps to a Two State Solution, which will “set out an agenda to narrow the parameters of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, improve the lives of ordinary Palestinians and Israelis, and help foster the conditions in which a final agreement can be reached”.


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