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Ruth Lauren Smeeth[1] (née Anderson; born 29 June 1979) is a British Labour Party politician who was elected as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Stoke-on-Trent North at the 2015 general election.

Ruth Smeeth

Official portrait of Ruth Smeeth crop 2.jpg
Member of Parliament
for Stoke-on-Trent North
Assumed office
7 May 2015
Preceded byJoan Walley
Majority2,359 (5.6%)
Personal details
Born
Ruth Lauren Anderson

(1979-06-29) 29 June 1979 (age 40)
Edinburgh, Scotland
Political partyLabour
Spouse(s)Michael Smeeth (2004–present)
Alma materUniversity of Birmingham
WebsiteOfficial website

Contents

Early lifeEdit

Smeeth was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, to an "east London Jewish girl and a rugged Scottish trade unionist", as she told an interviewer in 2016. Her maternal family arrived in London during the 1890s, having escaped Russian pogroms.[2] However, she had no contact with her father after her parents divorced when she was aged three.[3] Smeeth attended school and taught at a Jewish school in Bristol, where her mother was later deputy general secretary for Amicus,[2] and in her early life travelled extensively across the UK due to her mother's work.[4]

Smeeth graduated with a degree in Politics and International Relations from the University of Birmingham in 2000.[4] She worked as a policy and research officer for a trade union [5] before working in a public relations role from January 2004 to September 2005 at Sodexo. She then became director of public affairs and campaigns at the Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre (BICOM) in November 2005.[6] She later worked in PR for Nestlé.[7] From 2010 to 2015, she was a deputy director of anti-racist organisation, Hope not Hate.[4] She has also been employed by the Community Security Trust and has worked for the Board of Deputies of British Jews.[8]

Parliamentary careerEdit

Smeeth was selected as Labour Party candidate for the Burton constituency in the 2010 general election, finishing 6,304 votes behind Andrew Griffiths of the Conservative Party.[9] After winning an all-women shortlist, Smeeth was selected as Labour Party candidate for the Stoke-on-Trent North constituency, following the retirement of incumbent Labour MP Joan Walley.[10] She was subsequently elected at the 2015 general election.

Smeeth backed Yvette Cooper in the 2015 Labour Leadership Election.[11] On 27 June 2016, Smeeth resigned her post as Parliamentary Private Secretary to the shadow Northern Ireland and Scotland teams, alongside others, in protest at Jeremy Corbyn's leadership.[12]

She supported Owen Smith in the failed attempt to replace Jeremy Corbyn in the 2016 Labour Party (UK) leadership election.[13]

She retained her seat in the 2017 general election with a much reduced majority, making it the 31st most marginal Labour seat based on votes cast.

She resigned from Labour's front bench on 14 March 2019 in order to vote against a second referendum, due to Labour's policy of abstention regarding the amendment.[14]

ViewsEdit

Since becoming an MP, Smeeth has taken up the topic of holiday hunger. She was given an adjournment debate in October 2015.[15][16]

In June 2016, Smeeth campaigned for the UK to remain in the European Union.[17] Her constituency ended up voting for Brexit by 72.1%. In November 2016, following the UK's vote to leave the EU the previous June, Smeeth said "I’ll be voting for us to move to Article 50. The general public, especially in Stoke-on-Trent, sent a very clear message with some parts of my constituency voting 80/20 to leave. My whole priority and focus is how we can make it work".[18]

She is a member of Labour Friends of Israel.[19] In April 2019, she was elected Parliamentary Chair of the Jewish Labour Movement.[20]

Alleged antisemitic abuseEdit

Chakrabarti Inquiry Report launchEdit

In June 2016, Marc Wadsworth, an activist with Momentum Black Connexions, publicly accused Smeeth of working "hand-in-glove" with Kate McCann of The Daily Telegraph, after seeing Smeeth pass the journalist a copy of a statement he had been handing out[21] at the launch of the Chakrabarti Report.[22][23] Smeeth claimed that the accusation was using "traditional antisemitic slurs to attack me for being part of a 'media conspiracy'" and criticised a lack of response from Corbyn or his office, calling on him to resign.[24][25] Wadsworth said he was unaware that Smeeth is Jewish and said that "I’ve never been called anti-semitic in my life...The Jewish people have an ally in me.”[21] He refused to apologise.[22]

On 25 April 2018, Smeeth was accompanied by a cordon of around 40 Labour MPs and peers to a hearing of Labour's National Constitutional Committee (NCC) into Wadsworth's conduct.[26] On 27 April 2018, Wadsworth was expelled for bringing the Labour Party into disrepute.[27]

Other developmentsEdit

In the summer of 2016, the police strengthened the security of Smeeth's home and office following an antisemitic and homophobic death threat on Facebook.[28][29] Smeeth said that she has received 25,000 pieces of abuse during July and August, including 20,000 in a 12-hour period.[30] "It’s vile, it’s disgusting and it’s done in the name of the leader of the Labour party, which makes it even worse", Smeeth said. Corbyn "should be naming and shaming some of the worst perpetrators who are doing it in his name".[31] A Labour spokesman said: "Jeremy condemns all abuse, and no one responsible for it is a genuine supporter of Jeremy's. He has repeatedly called for a kinder, gentler politics".[31]

Elected vice-chair of the Parliamentary Labour Party in 2017, Smeeth said she now has weekly meetings with Corbyn. According to her, he is "incredibly uncomfortable" with antisemitism, but the allegations concerning its presence in the Labour Party turn his "whole political being upside down" because they are the opposite of "everything he believes himself to be"; however, for Corbyn "it was much easier to try and put that in a box and pretend it's not happening".[32]

Personal lifeEdit

Smeeth is married to Michael Smeeth, a business executive. She describes herself as 'culturally Jewish'.[33]

Since 2015, she has been a board member of Hope not Hate.[34]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "No. 61961". The London Gazette. 19 June 2017. p. 11785.
  2. ^ a b Edwardes, Charlotte (20 September 2016). "Ruth Smeeth: 'I've never seen anti-Semitism in Labour like this, it's normal now'". London Evening Standard. Archived from the original on 22 September 2016. Retrieved 20 September 2016.
  3. ^ John Woodhouse meets Stoke-on-Trent North Labour candidate Ruth Smeeth Archived 13 April 2015 at the Wayback Machine The Sentinel, 10 May 2014
  4. ^ a b c "About Me". ruthsmeeth.org.uk. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 3 March 2015.
  5. ^ url=https://www.ruthsmeeth.org.uk/about/
  6. ^ "Smeeth exits Sodexho for pro-Israel lobby group". PR Week. 9 September 2005. Archived from the original on 5 April 2015. Retrieved 3 March 2015.
  7. ^ "Labour chooses election fighter". Uttoxeter News. 28 November 2007. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 3 March 2015.
  8. ^ Dysch, Marcus (29 August 2016). "Newest Jewish MP Ruth Smeeth says victory was 'bittersweet'". Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 17 July 2019.
  9. ^ "Con Gain from Lab". BBC News. Retrieved 3 March 2015.
  10. ^ James, Laura (5 April 2014). "Ruth Smeeth to replace Joan Walley as Labour Parliamentary candidate". The Sentinel. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 3 March 2015.
  11. ^ "Who nominated who for the 2015 Labour leadership election?". New Statesman. Progressive Media International. 15 June 2015. Archived from the original on 5 July 2015. Retrieved 20 July 2015.
  12. ^ MP for Stoke-on-Trent North resigns from shadow cabinet post Archived 28 June 2016 at the Wayback Machine ITV News, Mon 27 June 2016
  13. ^ Smith, Mikey; Bloom, Dan (20 July 2016). "Which MPs are nominating Owen Smith in the Labour leadership contest?". Mirror. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  14. ^ "City MP Ruth Smeeth resigns as Labour PPS to vote against second referendum". Stoke Sentinel (14 March 2019). Retrieved 14 March 2019.
  15. ^ Smeeth, Ruth (16 October 2015). "For too many kids, school holidays aren't times of fun. They're times of hunger". New Statesman. Progressive Media International. Archived from the original on 7 August 2016. Retrieved 3 July 2016.
  16. ^ Tree, Nicola (10 May 2016). "An anniversary in opposition: new female Labour MPs on their first year in Parliament". New Statesman. Progressive Media International. Archived from the original on 28 July 2016. Retrieved 3 July 2016.
  17. ^ John Harris and John Domokos. "Brexit will hurt your city, Labour tells core voters – but no one's listening | Politics". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 July 2018.
  18. ^ Walsh, Gemma (4 November 2016). "Three Stoke-on-Trent MPs react to High Court Brexit ruling". StaffsLive. Archived from the original on 11 November 2016. Retrieved 11 November 2016.
  19. ^ "Labour's pro-Israel MPs face wipe-out". The Jewish Chronicle. 20 April 2017.
  20. ^ "New Jewish Labour Movement Chair Mike Katz 'honoured and humbled'". The Jewish Chronicle. 7 April 2019. Retrieved 8 April 2019.
  21. ^ a b McSmith, Andy (30 June 2016). "Labour activist who berated MP Ruth Smeeth says he did not know she was Jewish and denies Momentum links". The Independent. Independent Print Limited. Archived from the original on 2 July 2016. Retrieved 2 July 2016.
  22. ^ a b Davis, Barney (1 July 2016). "Marc Wadsworth who left MP Ruth Smeeth in tears over 'anti-Semitism' refuses to apologise". London Evening Standard. Archived from the original on 2 July 2016. Retrieved 2 July 2016.
  23. ^ Marshall, Tom (30 June 2016). "Labour MP Ruth Smeeth storms out of anti-Semitism report launch 'in tears'". London Evening Standard. Archived from the original on 30 June 2016. Retrieved 1 July 2016.
  24. ^ Chakelian, Anoosh (30 June 2016). "Jewish Labour MP Ruth Smeeth was reduced to tears at Labour's anti-Semitism inquiry press conference". New Statesman. Archived from the original on 1 July 2016. Retrieved 30 June 2016.
  25. ^ Smeeth, Ruth. "Statement on today's launch of the Chakrabarti Report". Ruth Smeeth MP. Archived from the original on 4 July 2016. Retrieved 30 June 2016.
  26. ^ Forrester, Kate (25 April 2018). "Labour MPs Rally Around Colleague Ruth Smeeth Ahead Of Marc Wadsworth Anti-Semitism Hearing". HuffPost. Retrieved 27 April 2018.
  27. ^ Elgot, Jessica (27 April 2018). "Labour activist Marc Wadsworth expelled from party over antisemitism row". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 April 2018.
  28. ^ Johnston, Chris (1 September 2016). "Police investigate antisemitic and homophobic online abuse targeting MP". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 2 September 2016. Retrieved 2 September 2016.
  29. ^ Sugarman, Daniel (2 September 2016). "Counter-terror police protecting Jewish MP after antisemitic death threat". The Jewish Chronicle. Archived from the original on 3 September 2016. Retrieved 2 September 2016.
  30. ^ Hughes, Laura (2 September 2016). "Jewish Labour MP reveals she received more than 20,000 pieces of abuse in just 12 hours". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 2 September 2016. Retrieved 2 September 2016.
  31. ^ a b Mason, Rowena. "Jewish Labour MP: Corbyn must name and shame online abusers". 2 September 2016. Archived from the original on 2 September 2016. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  32. ^ Harpin, Lee (4 September 2017). "Corbyn "can't get head around" antisemitism, says leading Jewish MP". The Jewish Chronicle. Archived from the original on 2 October 2017. Retrieved 2 October 2017.
  33. ^ Newest Jewish MP Ruth Smeeth says victory was 'bittersweet' Archived 29 August 2016 at the Wayback Machine The Jewish Chronicle Online, Marcus Dysch, 12 May 2015]
  34. ^ "Ruth Smeeth". They Work for You. Retrieved 24 July 2019.

External linksEdit