Hastings councillor resigns from Labour party

A Hastings councillor has quit Labour amid the antisemitism row surrounding the party.

Friday, 15th February 2019, 11:56 am
Updated Monday, 18th February 2019, 10:52 am
Cllr Dany Louise

Councillor Dany Louise, who represents Old Town ward, said the ‘level of denial’ by Jeremy Corbyn supporters over Labour’s antisemitism problem left her ‘in despair’.

Her resignation was reported in the Jewish Chronicle and her full resignation letter was published on the newspaper’s website.

In her resignation letter to Peter Chowney, Hastings Borough Council leader, she said: “Despite numerous calls for the (Labour) leadership to deal with antisemitism in the party effectively, unequivocally, and speedily, they have failed to do so over a period of several years. “Antisemitism remains not just tolerated within the party, but it seems, actively encouraged.

“The treatment of Luciana Berger MP has been disgraceful. She was faced with a vote of no confidence in her CLP brought by a conspiracy theorist who thinks Israel was behind the 9/11 attacks.

“This action was met with a call for her to prove her loyalty to the Party by John McDonnell, and deafening silence by Jeremy Corbyn.

“Luciana Berger is an inspiring role-model, and a real-life contemporary hero. She should be celebrated as a person and MP of outstanding courage and integrity.

“The level of denial by Jeremy Corbyn supporters leaves me in despair.

“Decent people hold their hands up in horror when the victims tell them they are being antisemitic. People and institutions who are sincere about not being racist learn to change their attitudes, behaviour and procedures for the better. They recognise that they have rightly been called out for unacceptable behaviour.

“I put myself forward as a councillor because I wanted to give something back to the town that has given me so much.”

Cllr Louise was elected for the Old Hastings ward in last year’s borough council elections.

She is a member of the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) and Brighton & Hove Progressive Synagogue.

Cllr Louise said: “I am committed to continuing to work hard for all my Old Hastings constituents, and to represent the ward in council to the best of my ability until my term finishes, along with Cllr James Bacon.

“I have been a Labour voter all my life, and my views are unchanged in terms of wanting to see a rebalanced economy and a significantly fairer society that values every citizen.”

Cllr Rob Lee, who leads the Conservative group on Hastings Borough Council, said: “The Labour party has a serious problem with antisemitism which its leadership is failing to take seriously.

“I call upon the leader of the council, Peter Chowney to challenge the leader of his party to take more action at once against the vile racism that has infected the Labour party.”

Hastings MP, Amber Rudd. said: “Labour has treated its Jewish MPs disgracefully and has allowed hostility towards Jews to fester. And now a Labour councillor in Hastings has rightfully quit the party because of its failure to tackle vile antisemitism.”

Cllr Chowney expressed his regret at Cllr Louise’s resignation.

He said: “I have enjoyed working with Dany and am disappointed she felt the need to resign but totally respect her decision.

“I can’t comment on internal disciplinary procedures at a national level as these are ongoing.

“Locally we have always reviled antisemitism and have signed up to the The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of this.

“We continue to support Holocaust Memorial Day (one of only a handful of local authorities that do) and as a socialist and internationalist I remain committed to eliminating discrimination and prejudice in all its forms.”