A Jewish Labour candidate has been left unable to leave her ‘fortress’ home alone after a string of vile death threats, she revealed today.
Ruth Smeeth says she has been forced to carry a panic button in a bid to keep her safe from a potential attack.
The Stoke-on-Trent candidate, who has vocally criticised Jeremy Corbyn over Labour anti-Semitism, believes she is being targeted by left-wing and right-wing extremists because she is Jewish and a woman.
Police are investigating the latest incident, which saw a death threat hand-delivered to her constituency office in the Staffordshire city last week.
It came as Mr Corbyn ducked questions on Labour’s anti-Semitism crisis after Britain’s chief rabbi warned he is not fit to be PM.
She defiantly insisted today ‘I won’t be bullied by anyone’ and said the abuse was ‘unacceptable’.
‘For the past 18 months or so I have not been allowed on public transport by myself – I can’t go to London on the train without a colleague or one of my team,’ she told Stoke-on-Trent Live.
‘You won’t ever see me at a public engagement by myself and my surgeries have to be appointment only.
‘When I am knocking on doors someone needs to be with me. Someone would have to meet me if I wanted to go for a walk.
‘My house is a fortress, my office is a fortress.
Ruth Smeeth says she has been forced to carry a panic button in a bid to keep her safe from a potential attack
It came as Mr Corbyn ducked questions on Labour’s anti-Semitism crisis after Britain’s chief rabbi warned he is not fit to be PM
‘I’ve got panic buttons in my house, I carry one in my pocket. I have to live in an environment that no-one should have to live in.
‘The only way for me to live with that is to start treating it like it’s normal, but it isn’t normal.’
Ms Smeeth – who has been the Stoke-on-Trent North MP since 2015 – says she has been threatened by the far-left and the far-right and around half the threats have been anti-Semitic in nature.
The first death threat came when she was chosen as a candidate for the constituency in 2014 – and the situation has snowballed since then.
Ms Smeeth (pictured at the Labour party conference in September) said: ‘I’ve got panic buttons in my house, I carry one in my pocket. I have to live in an environment that no-one should have to live in’
Up until now, the threats have been made via email or social media but last Thursday’s incident, which saw a piece of Ms Smeeth’s election material doctored and turned into a threat, was the first of its kind.
‘Something horrible is happening. There is a General Election on and it will only get worse,’ she added.
‘I’m not asking for sympathy, I just feel like I need to put down a marker to say this is not normal and it is not acceptable.
‘I won’t be bullied by anyone. We need to find a way back to respectfully disagreeing with each other, not threatening to hurt each other.’
In 2016, Ms Smeeth was forced to move out of her London home because police did not believe she could be kept safe there, and security measures at her home in Stoke-on-Trent have been continually ramped up since then.
Veteran left-winger Mr Corbyn dodged protests outside the launch of the party’s ‘race and faith’ manifesto in London this afternoon
A Staffordshire Police spokesman said: ‘Officers are investigating a report of a malicious communication being sent to a local MP last Thursday.
‘As with every election the police’s role is to prevent and detect crime and enable the democratic process to take place unhindered.
‘We take that role very seriously because intimidation of candidates and their supporters has serious implications for individuals and democracy.
All candidates have been offered guidance and sensible advice.’
A West Midlands Labour Party spokesman said: ‘No-one in any walk of life should face abuse or threats, it is completely wrong and should always be called out. Two years ago, Labour MP Jo Cox was murdered in the street by a far-right terrorist so we take any threat to MPs extremely seriously.’
Veteran left-winger Mr Corbyn dodged protests outside the launch of the party’s ‘race and faith’ manifesto in London this afternoon.
And when he finally took to the stage he did not directly address the stinging criticism from the Jewish community, merely insisting anti-Semitism is ‘vile and wrong’.
He then slunk away without taking questions from reporters.