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How Covid-19 could be creating a fare-dodging paradise on trains

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how covid 19 could be creating a fare dodging paradise on trains

When the country went into lockdown in March to curb the spread of coronavirus, rail companies across Britain scaled back its number of ticket inspectors on trains to protect staff and travellers from possible contamination. 

But with children back at school and many people no longer working from home, returning passenger numbers are slowly on the rise – but some claim they’re yet to see a ticket inspector on their route.

Last month industry body the Rail Delivery Group announced timetables are increasing to around 90 per cent of pre-lockdown levels.

But while some rail networks, including East Midlands Railway, Northern and Merseyrail, have reintroduced inspectors to their trains, a number continue to operate without due to social distancing rules. 

And customers have taken to social media to complain that they’re paying for tickets which aren’t being checked, while others exploit a loophole that allows them to claim refunds on digital tickets they haven’t downloaded to their mobile device. 

With children back at school and many people no longer working from home, returning passenger numbers are slowly on the rise - but some claim they're yet to see a ticket inspector on their route

With children back at school and many people no longer working from home, returning passenger numbers are slowly on the rise - but some claim they're yet to see a ticket inspector on their route

With children back at school and many people no longer working from home, returning passenger numbers are slowly on the rise – but some claim they’re yet to see a ticket inspector on their route

It comes two weeks after the Department for Transport (DfT) announced rail franchising has been ‘ended’ by extending measures introduced to keep trains running after Covid-19 – meaning the taxpayer is set to be landed with a bill of more than £3.5billion to prop up the rail network until 2022.

Billions have already been spent to maintain the railway network since March after passenger numbers plummeted to a fraction of pre-pandemic levels. This drop made it financially impossible for private companies to run services.

Now some passengers are concerned the rail companies could be losing more money by failing to check people aren’t fare-dodging and are travelling with the right tickets. 

It was estimated, before the pandemic, that fare dodging cost the railway around £200million every year – money which could otherwise be spent investing to improve services. 

Last week a representative for ScotRail tweeted: ‘Our staff haven’t been checking or selling tickets since March. The rules are clear and unless exempt everyone should be wearing a a face-covering while travelling on one of our services.’

On September 26, London North Eastern Railway (LNER) tweeted that ticket checks were only reintroduced in the past fortnight. Last Monday, Southeastern tweeted: ‘Conductors and On-board Managers are still on trains performing operational duties, but for social distancing reasons they are not required to walk through the train as they previously used to.’ 

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While some rail networks, including East Midlands Railway, Northern and Merseyrail, have reintroduced ticket inspectors to their trains, a number continue to operate without

While some rail networks, including East Midlands Railway, Northern and Merseyrail, have reintroduced ticket inspectors to their trains, a number continue to operate without

While some rail networks, including East Midlands Railway, Northern and Merseyrail, have reintroduced ticket inspectors to their trains, a number continue to operate without

Passengers have certainly noticed the absence of inspectors on some routes, with many taking to social media to complain their tickets hadn’t been checked on multiple occasions. 

Twitter user Morgan, from Manchester, tweeted late last month: ‘Nothing I hate more spending £20 on a train ticket for no one to check it.’

Last week Twitter user Day moaned: ‘On my 5th train journey in say the last two months… Not one ticket inspector, yet £200 in tickets, not sure if I’ve been lucky or stupid for buying a ticket.’ 

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Passengers have certainly noticed the absence of inspectors on some routes, with many from across the country taking to social media to complain their tickets hadn't been checked on multiple journeys

Passengers have certainly noticed the absence of inspectors on some routes, with many from across the country taking to social media to complain their tickets hadn't been checked on multiple journeys

Passengers have certainly noticed the absence of inspectors on some routes, with many from across the country taking to social media to complain their tickets hadn’t been checked on multiple journeys

And on Friday, user Elliot Train, from Sheffield, wrote: ‘Bus from Dinnington, to Rotherham tramstop, to Sheffield train station, to Hull… Not one person has checked for my tickets yet. I paid these stupid prices, check my damn tickets.’

Others suggested a lack of ticket inspectors was leading to an increasing number of fare dodging. Heart 70s radio presenter Carl Emms tweeted last month: ‘Since I returned to London a couple of weeks back this has been a frequent issue. 

‘Not once on any of my trips has an Avanti member of staff checked tickets or walked through the train. Free for all. Very disappointing.’ 

Meanwhile some travellers admitted to taking advantage of a loophole enabling them to apply for refunds for journeys they took where the tickets weren’t checked. 

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Some argued they'd taken multiple journeys and not seen a single ticket inspector. while others asked why they weren't working to enforce mask wearing

Some argued they'd taken multiple journeys and not seen a single ticket inspector. while others asked why they weren't working to enforce mask wearing

Some argued they’d taken multiple journeys and not seen a single ticket inspector. while others asked why they weren’t working to enforce mask wearing

Twitter user Anish Mistry tweeted he had spent £50 on a ticket but was not approached by a conductor.

Having booked through Trainline, he then revealed he had applied for a refund despite having completed the journey.

The rules allow a refund on selected tickets if they’ve not been used, and if the ticket hasn’t been downloaded to be scanned or checked by an inspector then it looks as if the passenger has not travelled.  

It led to a discussion thread on the social media site where other users confessed they had done the same.

Christopher Carson, from Yorkshire, tweeted: ‘Got a refund on mine this morning ££££.’ 

Reece Paiaya added: ‘Well same but not £50 but still £6.20.’ 

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Twitter user Anish Mistry tweeted he had spent £50 on a ticket but was not approached by a conductor. Having booked through Trainline and downloaded a mobile ticket, he then revealed he had applied for a refund despite having done the journey

Twitter user Anish Mistry tweeted he had spent £50 on a ticket but was not approached by a conductor. Having booked through Trainline and downloaded a mobile ticket, he then revealed he had applied for a refund despite having done the journey

Twitter user Anish Mistry tweeted he had spent £50 on a ticket but was not approached by a conductor. Having booked through Trainline and downloaded a mobile ticket, he then revealed he had applied for a refund despite having done the journey

Most train services in Britain have operated as franchises since the railways were privatised around 25 years ago. 

Femail has reached out to all British train operators for comment. Jacqueline Starr, Chief Operating Officer at the Rail Delivery Group which represents the rail industry, said: ‘Everyone who uses the railway needs a ticket to travel or they risk receiving penalty fares or being prosecuted. 

‘The impact of coronavirus means rail staff are taking extra steps to protect themselves and others but ticket checks are still being carried out at stations and on trains. 

‘The small minority who fare dodge deprive the railway of millions of pounds every year, money which could otherwise be spent investing to improve the railway for everyone or go back to government to help fund the NHS and other vital public services.’ 

RDG explained that, to reduce contact and risk to rail workers and passengers, ticket checks are being carried out in slightly different ways depending on the type of service. There is currently a greater focus on checks at stations where there is more space. 

Staffed ticket barriers remain in operation at the busiest stations with further checks being carried out by staff at other stations. Revenue protection staff onboard trains continue to operate but observe social distancing by inspecting tickets visually or with contactless scanners.

The group added that refund checks are routinely carried out and fraudulent claims will be followed up and legal action taken to reclaim the money.

Siwan Hayward, TfL’s Director of Compliance, Policing and On-street Services, said: ‘We take fare evasion extremely seriously and our teams of revenue inspectors operate across the whole network every day, using new technology and intelligence to identify anyone travelling without a ticket or face covering. 

‘Fare evasion is a serious criminal offence that could lead to prosecution, a criminal record, a fine of up to £1,000 and can have profound consequences.’

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Here are taunts from some Labour members that were detailed in the shocking anti-Semitism report

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here are taunts from some labour members that were detailed in the shocking anti semitism report

Here, Policy Editor Daniel Martin details some of the most shocking examples of Labour anti-Semitism that were contained in the EHRC report – as well as those that weren’t.

Detailed in the report 

Pam Bromley, councillor in Rossendale, Lancashire, denied anti-Semitism was an issue in Labour and used tropes such as calling Jews a ‘fifth column’. 

She wrote: ‘Had Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party pulled up the drawbridge and nipped the bogus anti-Semitism accusations in the bud in the first place, we would not be where we are now and the fifth column in the Labour Party would not have managed to get such a foothold… the Lobby has miscalculated… the witchhunt has created brand new fightback networks… the Lobby will then melt back into its own cesspit.’ She was eventualy expelled.

Jeremy Corbyn visited the cemetery where terror leaders linked to the Munich massacre are buried. The Mail obtained a photograph of Mr Corbyn holding a wreath just feet away from the graves of leaders linked to the 1972 killings of Israeli athletes

Jeremy Corbyn visited the cemetery where terror leaders linked to the Munich massacre are buried. The Mail obtained a photograph of Mr Corbyn holding a wreath just feet away from the graves of leaders linked to the 1972 killings of Israeli athletes

Jeremy Corbyn visited the cemetery where terror leaders linked to the Munich massacre are buried. The Mail obtained a photograph of Mr Corbyn holding a wreath just feet away from the graves of leaders linked to the 1972 killings of Israeli athletes

A raft of examples of anti-Semitic conduct by party members included diminishing the scale or significance of the Holocaust, comparing Israelis to Hitler or the Nazis, and using ‘Zio’ as an anti-Semitic term 

It emerged that Jeremy Corbyn had, as a backbencher, praised an anti-Semitic mural in East London on Facebook. 

He supported the artist Mear One who had painted the image of hook-nosed bankers playing Monopoly on the backs of the world’s poor. 

But the Labour leader’s staff intervened to say ‘the complaint itself seems to fall well below the threshold required for investigation and if so surely the decision to dismiss it can be taken now’.

He later said ‘a wreath was indeed laid’ for ‘some of those who were killed in Paris in 1992’ and added: ‘I was present at that wreath-laying, I don’t think I was actually involved in it

He later said ‘a wreath was indeed laid’ for ‘some of those who were killed in Paris in 1992’ and added: ‘I was present at that wreath-laying, I don’t think I was actually involved in it

He later said ‘a wreath was indeed laid’ for ‘some of those who were killed in Paris in 1992’ and added: ‘I was present at that wreath-laying, I don’t think I was actually involved in it

Christine Shawcroft, head of Labour’s National Exective Committee’s disputes panel which investigated complaints of anti-Semitism, intervened to reinstate a member suspended for anti-Semitic social media posts so he could stand in local elections. 

Alan Bull had posted a link on Facebook to a fake news article titled: ‘International Red Cross Report Confirms the Holocaust of Six Million Jews is a Hoax.’ 

It was accompanied with a picture of the gates of Auschwitz, with the phrase ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’ replaced with ‘Muh Holocaust’. Following the Daily Mail’s disclosure of the intervention, she resigned.

A member tweeted: ‘How can we not have empathy with the Palestinians when they are up against these murdering, Zionest [sic] bastards. Their NAZI masters taught them well.’ He was let off with a warning 

In 2016 a Labour councillor shared an image of Jewish banker Jacob Rothschild on their Facebook page along with a caption claiming that the Rothschild family and other institutions, including the City of London and the Vatican, ‘own our news, our media, our oil and even our governments’. It does not appear that this was investigated at all.

It emerged that Jeremy Corbyn had, as a backbencher, praised an anti-Semitic mural in East London on Facebook. He supported the artist Mear One who had painted the image of hook-nosed bankers playing Monopoly on the backs of the world’s poor

It emerged that Jeremy Corbyn had, as a backbencher, praised an anti-Semitic mural in East London on Facebook. He supported the artist Mear One who had painted the image of hook-nosed bankers playing Monopoly on the backs of the world’s poor

It emerged that Jeremy Corbyn had, as a backbencher, praised an anti-Semitic mural in East London on Facebook. He supported the artist Mear One who had painted the image of hook-nosed bankers playing Monopoly on the backs of the world’s poor

A member was not suspended even though he was reported for saying Jewish MPs ‘can’t rein in your killers in the Middle East’, referred to the ‘Jewish brigade’ and said ‘Jews desire the Labour Party to comply with their demands’ 

Chris Williamson MP made public comments about anti-Semitism smears, supported members expelled for anti-Semitism, and shared social media posts relating to others accused of Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism. 

The disciplinary panel concluded he had ‘engaged in conduct online and offline that, due to its reckless and needlessly provocative nature, was grossly detrimental to the party’ and ‘may reasonably be seen to involve anti-Semitic sentiments, stereotypes and actions’. Despite this, he was initially given only a formal warning.

…And ones that weren’t

Activist Kayla Bibby shared a picture of an alien bearing the Star of David choking the Statue of Liberty, but escaped suspension from the party because the image was not ‘anti-Jewish’.

Jeremy Corbyn visited the cemetery where terror leaders linked to the Munich massacre are buried. The Mail obtained a photograph of Mr Corbyn holding a wreath just feet away from the graves of leaders linked to the 1972 killings of Israeli athletes. 

He later said ‘a wreath was indeed laid’ for ‘some of those who were killed in Paris in 1992’ and added: ‘I was present at that wreath-laying, I don’t think I was actually involved in it.’

Activist Kayla Bibby shared a picture of an alien bearing the Star of David choking the Statue of Liberty, but escaped suspension from the party because the image was not ‘anti-Jewish’

Activist Kayla Bibby shared a picture of an alien bearing the Star of David choking the Statue of Liberty, but escaped suspension from the party because the image was not ‘anti-Jewish’

Activist Kayla Bibby shared a picture of an alien bearing the Star of David choking the Statue of Liberty, but escaped suspension from the party because the image was not ‘anti-Jewish’

Alan Bull had posted a link on Facebook to a fake news article titled: ‘International Red Cross Report Confirms the Holocaust of Six Million Jews is a Hoax'

Alan Bull had posted a link on Facebook to a fake news article titled: ‘International Red Cross Report Confirms the Holocaust of Six Million Jews is a Hoax'

Alan Bull had posted a link on Facebook to a fake news article titled: ‘International Red Cross Report Confirms the Holocaust of Six Million Jews is a Hoax’

A Labour member shared a post accusing Jewish people of ‘eating the organs of their enemies’ and accused Jews of inventing modern terrorism by saying: ‘IRA murderers who took their cue from Jews.’ But the party sought to delay his suspension until it was found whether his disability had left him vulnerable.

The party let off a branch secretary for using offensive word ‘zio’ despite it being a second offence – and instead sought to reprimand the person who complained.

A Labour activist reported last April for writing on former Labour MP Luciana Berger’s Facebook page that ‘There are Zionist infiltrators in the Labour Party stirring trouble that doesn’t exist’ was let off without reprimand and was able to stand in local elections.

A member of Momentum’s steering committee shared a message accusing Saudi Arabia of being in thrall to ‘Zionist paymasters’. Apsana Begum – now an MP – later apologised for her comment.

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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NASA’s Hubble telescope spots the ‘Greater Pumpkin’ galaxies 120 MILLION light-years from Earth

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nasas hubble telescope spots the greater pumpkin galaxies 120 million light years from earth

NASA‘s Hubble Telescope has discovered what is being called the ‘Greater Pumpkin’ galaxy pair located 120 million light-years from Earth.

Astronomers say the galaxies resemble the shape of the iconic Halloween decoration, forming what appears to be two glowing eyes and a crooked carved smile.

However, the scene is a snapshot of the early stages of galaxies NGC 2292 and NCG 2293 slowly colliding. 

The faint, bluish smile is due to a newly formed star cluster and the glowing eyes are concentrations of stars around two supermassive black holes.

Experts say this event, although happening ever so slowly, could result in a giant spiral galaxy.

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NASA's Hubble Telescope has discovered what is being called the 'Greater Pumpkin' galaxy pair located 120 million light-years from Earth. Astronomers say the galaxies resemble the shape of the iconic Halloween decoration, forming what appears to be two glowing eyes and a crooked carved smile

NASA's Hubble Telescope has discovered what is being called the 'Greater Pumpkin' galaxy pair located 120 million light-years from Earth. Astronomers say the galaxies resemble the shape of the iconic Halloween decoration, forming what appears to be two glowing eyes and a crooked carved smile

NASA’s Hubble Telescope has discovered what is being called the ‘Greater Pumpkin’ galaxy pair located 120 million light-years from Earth. Astronomers say the galaxies resemble the shape of the iconic Halloween decoration, forming what appears to be two glowing eyes and a crooked carved smile

‘Hubble’s holiday offering is a pair of colliding galaxies that resemble the cartoon Peanuts character Linus’s imagining of the elusive Great Pumpkin,’ NASA shared in a statement.

‘Great’ is an understatement in this case because the galaxy pair spans 100,000 light-years.’

The team notes that our Milky Way Galaxy is set to collide with neighboring Andromeda galaxy in about six billion years, and although none of us are likely to be here, the event 6’could take on a spooky appearance too.’

The eerie ‘smile’ is actually the beginning stages of rebuilding a spiral galaxy, researchers explained.

The faint bluish smile is due to a newly formed star cluster and the glowing eyes are concentrations of stars around two supermassive black holes. Experts say this event, although happening ever so slowly, could result in a giant spiral galaxy like galaxy UGC 2885 (pictured)

The faint bluish smile is due to a newly formed star cluster and the glowing eyes are concentrations of stars around two supermassive black holes. Experts say this event, although happening ever so slowly, could result in a giant spiral galaxy like galaxy UGC 2885 (pictured)

The faint bluish smile is due to a newly formed star cluster and the glowing eyes are concentrations of stars around two supermassive black holes. Experts say this event, although happening ever so slowly, could result in a giant spiral galaxy like galaxy UGC 2885 (pictured)

It stretches to each of the galaxies and was likely formed by interstellar gas being compressed as teh pair started on their collision – and the orange hue is from the aging red stars.

NGC 2292 and NCG 2293 galaxies are located in the Canis Major constellation and being so far, has made the duo difficult to spot among the plethora of stars in the region.

The galaxy pair was similar to objects tagged by the citizen-science project Galaxy Zoo, where volunteers go hunting for oddball-looking galaxies. 

Astronomer William Keel, of the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa believes the Greater Pumpkin will transform into a giant spiral galaxy similar to UGC  

Keel speculates that the ultimate destiny for this pair will be to merge into a giant luminous spiral galaxy like UGC 2885, Rubin’s Galaxy, which is over twice the diameter of our Milky Way. 

NASA posted another spooky photo that was out of this world - the sun glowing with a pumpkin face. The haunting illuminated 'face' smoldered on the sun's surface in 2014 when activity reached 'solar maximum', meaning more sun spots occurred

NASA posted another spooky photo that was out of this world - the sun glowing with a pumpkin face. The haunting illuminated 'face' smoldered on the sun's surface in 2014 when activity reached 'solar maximum', meaning more sun spots occurred

NASA posted another spooky photo that was out of this world – the sun glowing with a pumpkin face. The haunting illuminated ‘face’ smoldered on the sun’s surface in 2014 when activity reached ‘solar maximum’, meaning more sun spots occurred

NASA posted another spooky photo that was out of this world – the sun glowing with a pumpkin face.

The image was shared exactly one year ago and shows active regions on the sun’s surface created the grimacing smile and slanted eyes on the biggest ‘pumpkin’ of all.

The haunting illuminated ‘face’ smoldered on the sun’s surface in 2014 when activity reached ‘solar maximum’, meaning more sun spots occurred.

‘Even our star celebrates the spooky season — in 2014, active regions on the Sun created this jack-o’-lantern face, as seen in ultraviolet light by our Solar Dynamics Observatory satellite,’ NASA shared on its website.

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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They told me they wished I’d been killed – not Jo Cox,writes MARGARET HODGE

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they told me they wished id been killed not jo coxwrites margaret hodge

As I sat down yesterday morning to read the first few pages of the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s report, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of trepidation.

After all, I have spent almost every day of the past five years – ever since Jeremy Corbyn became Labour leader, to be precise – fending off the vile, anti-Jewish hatred of his supporters.

Yet every time I raised the alarm, I was met with stony silence.

Imagine, then, the overwhelming relief that swept over me as I read it confirmed how, under Corbyn, my party had succumbed to a malaise ‘which, at best, did not do enough to prevent anti-Semitism and, at worst, could be seen to accept it’.

'I have spent almost every day of the past five years fending off the vile, anti-Jewish hatred of his supporters' writes Margaret Hodge

'I have spent almost every day of the past five years fending off the vile, anti-Jewish hatred of his supporters' writes Margaret Hodge

‘I have spent almost every day of the past five years fending off the vile, anti-Jewish hatred of his supporters’ writes Margaret Hodge

It was a momentous, almost vindicating occasion.

Ever since Corbyn and his extremist supporters took control of Labour, I’ve tortured myself over whether it was time to leave.

Indeed, it pains me to say it, but despite being a member of the Labour Party for almost 60 years – roughly half its lifetime – the sheer scale of anti-Semitic abuse hurled at me has taken its toll.

Yet I have stood and fought, even after I was threatened with suspension for walking up to Corbyn in a corridor in Parliament and telling him, in no uncertain words, that he was making it very difficult for Jewish people to stay in the Labour Party.

Yesterday’s report confirms that I was right to weather the storm and hold out for justice.

Typically, Corbyn thrust himself into the spotlight story, publishing an obdurate denial and a suggestion that the findings were ‘dramatically overstated’.

His successor Keir Starmer speedily recognised Corbyn’s statement for what it was – a pernicious attempt to downplay anti-Semitism – and he was immediately suspended.

Certainly it is a step in the right direction for a party that once prided itself on its anti-Semitic credentials, and I hope that we can begin to look forward. 

But we must not fall into the trap of thinking that the job is done.

Yes, the EHRC report nailed the most insulting lie of Corbyn’s supporters: namely that we Jewish MPs had ‘weaponised’ claims of anti-Semitism for our own nefarious gains.

But the bitter truth is that anti-Semitism is still heavily entrenched in some corners of the party and the Labour movement.

Margaret Hodge: Typically, Corbyn thrust himself into the spotlight story, publishing an obdurate denial and a suggestion that the findings were ‘dramatically overstated’.

Margaret Hodge: Typically, Corbyn thrust himself into the spotlight story, publishing an obdurate denial and a suggestion that the findings were ‘dramatically overstated’.

Margaret Hodge: Typically, Corbyn thrust himself into the spotlight story, publishing an obdurate denial and a suggestion that the findings were ‘dramatically overstated’.

No doubt Corbyn’s supporters would deride such a claim as an exaggeration. 

But I know anti-Semitism when I see it.

After all, when I was born in Egypt to Jewish parents, Jews were still being murdered in Hitler’s gas chambers. 

In fact, my maternal grandmother was shot dead by the Nazis outside a Lithuanian concentration camp. 

So understanding Jew-hatred has always been part of my identity.

And while Corbyn is certainly responsible for letting anti-Semitism fester, we must not overlook how countless members lined up to fan its flames.

Corbyn may be suspended, but what about the member who recently sent me a message calling me a ‘racist Zionist c***’? 

Or the one who told me it would have been better if I had been murdered rather than Jo Cox?

In fact, for proof that anti-Semitism still remains in Labour’s ranks, you need only look at the stream of social media messages posted yesterday by Corbynites questioning the EHRC report.

MP Jo Cox, 41,  was murdered in June 2016 after holding a constituency surgery in Birstall, West Yorkshire

MP Jo Cox, 41,  was murdered in June 2016 after holding a constituency surgery in Birstall, West Yorkshire

MP Jo Cox, 41,  was murdered in June 2016 after holding a constituency surgery in Birstall, West Yorkshire

Only last week, Len McCluskey, the Corbyn-supporting general secretary of the Unite union, told the BBC that party grandee Peter Mandelson should ‘go away and count his gold’, the oldest anti-Semitic trope in the book.

Meanwhile, we must not forget that yesterday’s report comes too late for many of my colleagues who were forced out of politics by the abuse that has been thrown at them.

So many good Labour women – such as Luciana Berger and Louise Ellman – could not stand it anymore.

There is something astonishing, and thoroughly depressing, about the fact that I am almost the last Jewish Labour female MP still standing. 

What an indictment of a party with such a proud Jewish tradition.

And so my joy at yesterday’s report is tempered by a feeling of political loneliness and anger.

But that is no excuse to give up fighting. Indeed, in recent months I have been inspired by the courage of those non-Jewish MPs and Labour members who have offered their support and risked being targeted themselves.

I was particularly heartened by the support from my local party, who gave me a standing ovation when I faced disciplinary action for calling out anti-Semitism.

Many of my Muslim local members understood better than most how important it was to always challenge racism.

That instinctive generosity of spirit is why I dare to be optimistic that we can defeat this virus of hatred.

Dare I say it, but I believe we can once again make the Labour Party an organisation that my proud immigrant parents would have regarded as a fit political home for their stubborn daughter.

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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