Labour criticised over Dame Margaret Hodge re-selection move

The Labour Party has come in for criticism amid charges of anti-Semitism after its veteran MP Dame Margaret Hodge was told she would have to face a re-selection battle in her east London constituency.

Dame Margaret – an outspoken critic of Jeremy Corbyn – has been forced into the fight after activists in her constituency voted for the chance to pick a new candidate.

She is the second Labour MP to be “triggered” through the party’s new ballot procedures which make it easier for local members to force a contest.

Dame Margaret said she was “disappointed” by the result but will fight to keep her Barking seat.

Mike Katz, chairman of the Jewish Labour Movement, called the trigger ballot vote a “shameful moment” for the party.

“Margaret Hodge has been a steadfast campaigner against racism, fascism and intolerance throughout her political life,” he said.

“She saw off the BNP in Barking and has over the last few years been determined in her opposition to anti-Semitism within the Labour Party.

“This is a shameful moment for a party which claims to embody the values of equality and diversity.

“She has been the target of vicious smears, derision and anti-Semitism, because she has been resolute in her opposition to anti-Jewish racism.”

Labour’s former deputy leader Harriet Harman said she was “dismayed more than I can say” by the vote.

She tweeted: “Margaret Hodge, scourge of tax avoiders, racists and anti-Semitism. Champion of progressive policies. Hyperactive local MP. Surely this cannot stand!”

Dame Margaret, who is Jewish, has angered some in the party for her criticism of Labour’s response to complaints of anti-Semitism.

On one occasion she told Mr Corbyn to his face that he is an “anti-Semite and racist”.

In a statement, Dame Margaret said: “I am obviously disappointed. My priority remains serving the people of Barking as I have done for the last 25 years.

“At a vital time for the country, with a general election looming, we should be focusing our efforts on holding Boris Johnson and the Tories to account.

“I will work to secure the full backing of Barking Labour Party, so I can continue to play my part as their MP in doing that.”

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