Catherine West MP
Catherine West MP

Parliament returned from Easter recess this week, with Syria top of the agenda.  Nobody could view the horrendous images of death and suffering, including young children, from a suspected chemical attack without feeling appalled.  Seven years into a brutal conflict that has already killed hundreds of thousands of Syrians and displaced millions, there is a pressing need to restart genuine negotiations towards peace

I am concerned about the Prime Minister’s decision to join Donald Trump in launching air strikes in advance of any independent report by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) or any renewed UN investigation.  You can read my full statement here.

I believe the Prime Minister should have brought the decision to Parliament for scrutiny, rather than jumping to the timetable of Donald Trump’s late-night tweets.  I strongly support Jeremy Corbyn’s call for a ‘War Powers Act’ to ensure that the PM consults Parliament before deploying our military in major interventions.

Also on Monday, my colleague David Lammy secured an urgent question on the Government’s heartless, incompetent attitude to children of the Windrush Generation.  It is utterly shameful that British citizens who have built their whole lives here and contributed to our society for decades are living in fear of deportation.  I co-signed a cross party letter urging the Government to get a grip on the growing crisis and wrote this article for the Times Red Box on how the hostile environment that Theresa May and successive Tory Governments have deliberately pursued has taken us to this place.

On Tuesday, I participated in an important Parliamentary debate about anti-Semitism in the UK.  Brave colleagues Luciana Berger and Ruth Smeeth spoke powerfully about their own horrific personal experiences.  On one occasion Luciana Berger MP received over 2,500 violent, abusive messages in just one day.  Since 2013, four people have been convicted of anti-Semitic abuse and harassment directed towards her.  Three of those, from a far-right persuasion, were imprisoned.

It is disgraceful and abhorrent.  Anti-Semitism must always be challenged in our country, our community – and in the Labour Party.  It goes against the fundamental values on which our movement was founded -; values of social justice, solidarity, dignity, diversity and equality.

That means action, including implementing the Chakrabarti report recommendations in full.  I’m very glad that Labour’s new General Secretary Jennie Formby has made tackling anti-Semitism within the party her top priority and, crucially, pledged to speed up the process of dealing with allegations.  It is clear that the current system is too slow and decisions are taking too long.  That has to change.  The Jewish community must be able to feel that the Labour Party is a safe home. As Luciana so eloquently said “one anti-Semitic member of the Labour Party is one too many”.

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