Ruth Smeeth

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Ruth Smeeth
Official portrait of Ruth Smeeth crop 2.jpg
Smeeth in 2017
Member of Parliament
for Stoke-on-Trent North
In office
7 May 2015 – 6 November 2019
Preceded byJoan Walley
Succeeded byJonathan Gullis
Personal details
Born
Ruth Lauren Anderson

(1979-06-29) 29 June 1979 (age 41)
Edinburgh, Scotland
Political partyLabour
Spouse(s)Michael Smeeth (2004–2018)
Alma materUniversity of Birmingham
WebsiteOfficial website

Ruth Lauren Smeeth[1] (née Anderson; born 29 June 1979) is a British Labour Party politician who was Member of Parliament (MP) for Stoke-on-Trent North from 2015 until 2019.

Early life[edit]

Smeeth was born in Edinburgh, Scotland. Her mother is from east London, and her father is a Scottish trade unionist.[2] Her maternal family is Jewish, and 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 career[edit]

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] She was then selected from an all-women shortlist to be Labour Party candidate for Stoke-on-Trent North, following the retirement of incumbent Labour MP Joan Walley,[10] and was subsequently elected at the 2015 general election.

Smeeth backed Yvette Cooper in the 2015 Labour Leadership Election.[11]

In October 2015, Smeeth was given an adjournment debate on holiday hunger.[12][13]

In June 2016, Smeeth resigned her post as Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) to the shadow Northern Ireland and Scotland teams, alongside others, in protest at Jeremy Corbyn's leadership.[14] She supported Owen Smith in the failed attempt to replace him in the 2016 Labour Party (UK) leadership election.[15]

In June 2016, Smeeth campaigned for the UK to remain in the European Union.[16] Her constituency voted for Brexit by 72.1%. In November 2016, 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".[17]

In June 2016, at the launch of the Chakrabarti Report, Marc Wadsworth, a Labour Party activist, described Smeeth as working "hand-in-hand" with Kate McCann of The Daily Telegraph, after Smeeth passed her his press release.[18][19][20] Smeeth said that Wadsworth 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[21][22] however, the incident was caught on video [18] and Wadsworth didn't mention a general “media conspiracy”, or anything about Jews. Wadsworth said he was unaware Smeeth was Jewish and that "I’ve never been called anti-semitic in my life...The Jewish people have an ally in me.”[18] Smeeth said that she received 25,000 pieces of abuse during July and August, including 20,000 in the 12-hour period immediately following the incident.[23][24][24] However, the Jewish Voice for Labour group contested this [25] by comparing Smeeth's claim with a study by the Community Service Trust who monitor anti-Semitic and abusive media content.[26] The study found that over an entire year (encompassing the 12 hour period of Smeeth's claim of 20,000 cases) only 9,008 original Tweets concerning Jews were classified as antagonistic. Other studies investigating the most abused MPs on Twitter found that Smeeth wasn't mentioned since she didn't exceed the threshold of abuse to be ranked.[27][28]

The police strengthened her security after she received a death threat.[29][30] In April 2018, Smeeth was accompanied by around 40 Labour MPs and peers to a Labour hearing into Wadsworth's conduct.[31] Wadsworth was expelled for bringing the Party into disrepute.[32]

She retained her seat in the 2017 general election with a much reduced majority.

In March 2019, Smeeth resigned as PPS to Tom Watson, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party to vote against a second referendum on Brexit, as Labour had instructed its MPs to abstain.[33]

In April 2019, Smeeth was elected Parliamentary Chair of the Jewish Labour Movement.[34] She is a member of Labour Friends of Israel.[35]

In the December 2019 general election, Smeeth lost her seat to Conservative Jonathan Gullis who overturned her 2,359 – or five per cent - majority, to a 15% or 6,286 majority of his own.

Personal life[edit]

Smeeth was married to Michael Smeeth, a business executive. She describes herself as 'culturally Jewish'.[36] Since 2015, she has been a board member of Hope not Hate.[37]

In June 2020, she became chief executive of Index on Censorship, an organisation which campaigns for freedom of speech.[38][39]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "No. 61961". The London Gazette. 19 June 2017. p. 11785.
  2. ^ a b c 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. ^ 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.
  13. ^ 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.
  14. ^ 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
  15. ^ Smith, Mikey; Bloom, Dan (20 July 2016). "Which MPs are nominating Owen Smith in the Labour leadership contest?". Mirror. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  16. ^ 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.
  17. ^ 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.
  18. ^ a b c 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.
  19. ^ 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.
  20. ^ 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.
  21. ^ 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.
  22. ^ 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.
  23. ^ 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.
  24. ^ 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.
  25. ^ Madison, Alan (28 February 2018). "Recent studies question whether attacks on Corbyn supporters were ever justified". Jewish Voice for Labour. Retrieved 21 July 2020.
  26. ^ Dhrodia, Azmina (4 September 2017). "Unsocial Media: Tracking Twitter Abuse against Women MPs, Amnesty Global Insights". medium.com/@AmnestyInsights. Retrieved 21 July 2020.
  27. ^ Dhrodia, Azmina (4 September 2017). "Unsocial Media: Tracking Twitter Abuse against Women MPs". Amnesty Insights.
  28. ^ Mcloughlin, Liam; Ward, Stephen (April 2017). "Turds, Traitors and Tossers: The Abuse of UK MPs via Twitter". Retrieved 20 July 2020.
  29. ^ 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.
  30. ^ 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.
  31. ^ Forrester, Kate (25 April 2018). "Labour MPs Rally Around Colleague Ruth Smeeth Ahead Of Marc Wadsworth Anti-Semitism Hearing". HuffPost. Retrieved 27 April 2018.
  32. ^ Elgot, Jessica (27 April 2018). "Labour activist Marc Wadsworth expelled from party over antisemitism row". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 April 2018.
  33. ^ "City MP Ruth Smeeth resigns as Labour PPS to vote against there being second referendum". Stoke Sentinel (14 March 2019). Retrieved 14 March 2019.
  34. ^ "New Jewish Labour Movement Chair Mike Katz 'honoured and humbled'". The Jewish Chronicle. 7 April 2019. Retrieved 8 April 2019.
  35. ^ "Labour's pro-Israel MPs face wipe-out". The Jewish Chronicle. 20 April 2017.
  36. ^ Dysch, Marcus (12 May 2015). "Newest Jewish MP Ruth Smeeth says victory was 'bittersweet'". The Jewish Chronicle. Archived from the original on 29 August 2016.
  37. ^ "Ruth Smeeth". They Work for You. Retrieved 24 July 2019.
  38. ^ "Index on Censorship announces Ruth Smeeth as new chief executive". Indexoncensorship.org. Index on Censorship. Retrieved 19 June 2020.
  39. ^ https://www.standard.co.uk/news/londoners-diary/the-londoner-corbyn-critic-ruth-smeeth-is-freedom-of-speech-ceo-a4470326.html

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Joan Walley
Member of Parliament
for Stoke-on-Trent North

20152019
Succeeded by
Jonathan Gullis