Labour MPs and activists have expressed solidarity with backbencher Luciana Berger, who will soon face a vote of no confidence by her local party. Party members in Liverpool Wavertree have called an extraordinary meeting on 17th February to debate two motions of no-confidence in their local MP.
The first motion argues: “Instead of fighting for a Labour government, our MP is continually using the media to criticise the man we all want to be Prime Minister.” The second makes a similar case, stating: “Our MP is continuously criticising our leader when she should be working for a general election and opposing the Tories.”
Shadow cabinet member Jonathan Ashworth tweeted his support in reaction to the news, as did MPs including Lisa Nandy, Ed Miliband, Anna Turley, Diana Johnson, Alison McGovern, Rosie Duffield, Catherine McKinnell, Jess Phillips, Chris Bryant, Darren Jones, Stella Creasy, Ian Austin, Chuka Umunna, Ian Murray, Tonia Antoniazzi and Yvette Cooper.
Several have expressed hope that the party leadership will speak out against the motions. Jeremy Corbyn has not commented so far, though a Labour spokesperson said: “Members have a right to hold their MPs to account but of course no one should be criticised for speaking out against antisemitism.”
The spokesperson later added: “Jeremy Corbyn has made clear that no one should be criticised for speaking out against antisemitism.”
Berger has been outspoken on Labour’s handling of antisemitism, which she strongly criticised earlier this week during a PLP meeting that discussed a motion calling on the leadership to urgently tackle outstanding antisemitism complaints.
Issuing a statement today, Berger said: “I have made no secret that, as a Jewish woman representing a city with a Jewish community, I have been deeply disturbed by the lack of response from Jeremy Corbyn as party leader and many in the wider leadership of the party to the antisemitism that stains our party.”
Critics point out that there are other reasons for which local activists might be unhappy with their MP, such as her general Corbynscepticism and opposition to Labour’s Brexit position. But one of the motion proposers, Kenneth Campbell, has been found to have posted on Facebook that Berger should be “exposed for the disruptive Zionist she is”.
It has also been highlighted by supporters that Berger has experienced antisemitic abuse including from party members, and that the party failed to inform her of violent threats made against her.
Votes of no confidence by local parties have no binding effect. Corbyn critics Joan Ryan, Gavin Shuker, Chris Leslie and Angela Smith have all lost such votes in their respective CLPs, as well as Labour Leavers Kate Hoey and Frank Field.