Ruth Smeeth: Why I’m backing Ian Murray for deputy leader

Ruth Smeeth

I think it’s fair to say that being an activist in the Labour Party over the last four years has been an emotional treadmill for too many of us; the ongoing misery of Brexit, the constantly draining factional rows within the party itself, the heartache of being investigated for being institutionally racist. It’s fair to say this is a chapter in our history that I for one will be glad to turn the page on.

On a personal level, the devastating and seemingly unending horror of the anti-Jewish hate that has been empowered from certain quarters in our party has been heart-breaking, and the anti-racist fight has at times been a lonely one.

Too many of my colleagues thought that it would be too difficult to stand publicly with me. Too many sent nice text messages but wouldn’t speak out against the racism we were seeing daily in our party. Too many were happy to hide behind the Jewish women who were having to lead the fight alone rather than help shoulder the burden. Too many abandoned us when we needed them.

Ian Murray was not one of those people. His personal private support, his interventions within the PLP and his public statements made sure that I wasn’t alone. That solidarity really was more than a word. Ian was one of those who shielded me after yet another PLP meeting from hell. One in which we had to talk about anti-Jewish hate – again. He was one of my friends who took me for dinner to make sure that I laughed that night, not cried. He proved himself to be, always, a mensch – a good man.

Naively, I never thought I would have to feel grateful to my friends for standing with me in a fight against racism. It turns out that I did. But with Ian, I didn’t need to say thank you. He was there without asking when I needed him. He has shown me time and again what a wonderful man he is, how brave politicians can be and what leadership should look like – which is why I’m proud he’s my friend and delighted he’s running for deputy leader.

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