Israel loses its leading British MP

Former Labour MP Joan Ryan speaking to AIPAC in March 2019. (AIPAC/Sussex Friends of Israel)

A leading Israel lobbyist in the British Parliament will step down at the next general election, expected within months.

Joan Ryan, longtime chair of the Israeli embassy front group Labour Friends of Israel, announced her imminent departure on Monday.

Ryan’s decision comes after months of retreat by Labour Friends of Israel, and a year-long struggle to oust her by her local Labour Party.

Making her announcement on Twitter, Ryan claimed that she had “always intended to serve only one more term in Parliament.”

But this seems to simply be an attempt to save face.

Her prospects of winning her seat back in the next election are slim after she quit Labour earlier this year.

A year ago, Ryan’s local Labour Party narrowly voted no-confidence in her. Far from announcing she would step down at the next election, Ryan refused to quit.

She took to Twitter to make clear “I will not be resigning.” She angrily denounced her opponents as “Trots,” “Stalinists” and “Communists.”

A few months later, Ryan quit Labour to join a new breakaway party.

The party, the Independent Group for Change, was funded by David Garrard, a major UK donor to the Israel lobby.

She accused Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn of fomenting a “culture of anti-Jewish racism and hatred for Israel.”

Ryan made herself unpopular with local constituents and activists for a variety of reasons.

An adamant opponent of Corbyn, she tried openly to sabotage her own party’s prospects in the 2017 general election.

Ryan sent letters to voters claiming that many local people “have more confidence in Theresa May as prime minister than they would have in Jeremy Corbyn.”

Enfield Labour members lodged a complaint against her for disloyalty.

Speech at AIPAC

Her staunch advocacy for Israel, a racist, human rights-abusing state, also made her deeply unpopular among grassroots Labour activists.

Until last month, Ryan was the parliamentary chair of Labour Friends of Israel. She was replaced by Louise Ellman, another staunchly anti-Palestinian MP.

However, in a statement, LFI said Ryan would continue her work with the group as its “honorary president.”

Earlier this year, she represented LFI at AIPAC, the powerful American Israel lobby group.

Ryan received a standing ovation at the conference where she declared, “I am proud to be a Zionist.”

“Over the past four years, Britain’s Labour Party, of which I’ve been a member for 40 years, has been transformed,” she claimed.

“Once a close friend of Israel and an unwavering ally of British Jews, it has been taken over by the far left.”

She warned her American audience that “things can change quickly” and urged them to “condemn anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism unequivocally.”

Faking anti-Semitism

Ryan was caught on camera in 2017’s undercover Al Jazeera documentary The Lobby discussing “names that we put into the embassy” with Israeli spy Shai Masot.

Masot was expelled from the UK as a result of the film’s revelations.

Masot infamously told Ryan that he had received “more than 1 million pounds” in funding for propaganda trips to Israel.

Labour Friends of Israel is known for junketing MPs to the country.

But earlier this year, after renewed interest in Al Jazeera’s film, the group denied this.

Labour Friends of Israel claimed the conversation between Ryan and Masot “was about a visit for young people,” and had been “openly” advertised by the embassy.

The 2017 film also caught Ryan red-handed fabricating anti-Semitism.

Time for change

Since Ryan quit Labour, and with an election looming, local members have been considering her replacement.

Several activists in Enfield have put their names forward as potential Labour candidates.

These include housing rights and union activist Delia Mattis, a strong Corbyn supporter.

Other left-wingers in the running are Ed Poole and Maria Kyriacou.

However, recent reports suggest that a democratic selection process for Labour candidates may be blocked.

The LabourList website reported last week that the process had been “paused with immediate effect.”

A source in Labour’s ruling national executive told the website that they were “keen to restart selections” as soon as possible.

Momentum, the Labour faction led by Jon Lansman, caused controversy earlier this month by announcing that its national coordinator Laura Parker was seeking to be the Enfield North candidate.

Parker belongs to a different local Labour Party.

The faction’s local affiliate, Momentum Enfield, accused Momentum’s national leadership of having Parker “parachuted into a seat over the heads of local members and activists.”

Momentum leader Lansman’s reputation is that of a leading Corbyn ally.

However, as The Electronic Intifada revealed this month, activists have said that Lansman had suggested privately that Corbyn be replaced as early as 2016.




What GREAT news!
I can't wait to see the back of that two-faced, sanctimonious, creep!!!


If anyone should be a candidate for scrutiny, for suspension from the Labour Party or for expulsion, shouldn't it be its Zionists? Zionism is responsible for the ethnic cleansing of close to a million Palestinians in 1948. As Ilan Pappe argues, there can be debate about the details, that is what professional historians do; but the broad facts are uncontroversial. When Ryan declared herself proud to be a Zionist, she was upholding ethnic cleansing and apartheid. How can there be a place in the Labour Party for people like Ryan and Ellman who unapologetically support racism? There is something demented about a context in which Chris Williamson can be suspended for defending Labour's record as an anti-racist party, while Ellman can display her unstinting support for a regime which holds 1.8 million people in what Pappe describes as "the biggest prison on earth" because of their ethnicity. How can racists be allowed to represent Labour, in the full glare of day and media publicity, while Corbyn, who has never made a racist statement in his life is traduced as an antisemite? Ellman is frequently interviewed about antisemitism, but never challenged about its Zionist variety. She supports a creed, Zionism, which is responsible for killing hundreds of Jews who have refused to sign up to its project. Why is she never made to answer for that? Why is there a "Labour Friends of Israel"? Why not a "Labour Friends of Morocco"? The answer, of course, is the Zionist lobby. If Israel complied with UN Resolution 194, 5 million Palestinians would return to the homes they were ethnically cleansed from in 1948. Out of a population of c 14 million, c 7 million would be Palestinians. That would be justice. It won't happen because Israel uses US power to refuse to comply. The Jewish State is maintained only by defiance of the UN and the application of force. What is Labour doing being friendly to that? Labour Friends of Palestine, that is what we need.


This is indeed welcome news, as was her departure from the party she did so much to wound. It is fondly to be hoped that other Zionists in the Labour Parliamentary delegation will follow suit and find new positions with the Israel lobby. There's no place for them in a party dedicated to combating racism.


This is welcome and long overdue news. Why her seat was not put up for a by-election is beyond me. She won the seat as a Labour MP and there should have been a by-election when she left. She has caused so much damage with her smear campaign and collaboration with Shai Mosat. She will not be missed. Now all we need is for Margaret Hodge, Ruth Smeeth, Yvette Cooper, Emily Thornberry to do the same. The Labour party is supposed to be about supporting Palestine and countries like it,
fighting for the right to support the BDS movement, and not supporting the occupying force and war criminals.


Won't she be joining the Lib Dems then? That is a genuine question. I see Jo Swinson has condemend BDS- I don't know why ? ! She also says she supports a two-state solution...but doesn't say how she plans to get it . I like Asa's style - he is very direct and he doesn't mince his words!


God riddance to this Zionazi potathohead, & her genocidal support for kid-killing, white Western colonists - posing as fake Jews - in occupied Palestine.
Clearing social-fascist scum, like her. Blair, Watson, ad nauseam, out of Labour is crucial to building a truly progressive socialist party.
¡No pasarán!

Asa Winstanley

Asa Winstanley's picture

Asa Winstanley is an investigative journalist who lives in London. He is an associate editor of The Electronic Intifada and co-host of our podcast.

He is author of the bestselling book Weaponising Anti-Semitism: How the Israel Lobby Brought Down Jeremy Corbyn (OR Books, 2023).