Louise Joyce Ellman (born 14 November 1945) is a British Labour Co-operative politician who has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Liverpool Riverside since 1997. In parliament she is Chair of the Transport Select Committee and a member of the Liaison Committee.
- 2 Parliamentary career
- 3 Views
- 4 Personal life
- 5 Controversies
- 6 References
- 7 External links
- 8 Audio clips
Ellman was born in Manchester to a British Jewish family. She was educated at the independent Manchester High School for Girls, before studying at theUniversity of Hull where she received a BA in Sociology and History in 1967, and went on to study Social Administration at the University of York where she was awarded a MPhil in 1972. From 1970, she worked as a lecturer for the Open University in further education, leaving in 1976. She was elected as a councillor on the Lancashire County Council in 1970, becoming the Labour group leader in 1977, and she led the council from 1981 until her election to Parliament. She was Vice Chair of Lancashire Enterprises.
She was elected to Parliament at the 1997 general election for the safe seat of Liverpool Riverside. She held the seat with a majority of 21,799 and has held the seat comfortably since. She made her maiden speech on 9 June 1997. She has been a member of the Transport Committee and its predecessorTransport, Local Government and the Regions since her election in 1997. Ellman is also the Chair of the Jewish Labour Movement and Vice Chair of Labour Friends of Israel and has been an active spokeswoman in Parliament on issues relating to transport, local government and the Middle East. She has also played an active role in the effort to pressure the Bulgarian government to free Michael Shields, and recently Gillian Gibbons, the teacher jailed in Sudan for blasphemy who has now been pardoned. When elected in 2001, the turnout of the vote in her constituency was the lowest in the country at just 34.1%.
On 21 May 2008, she was selected to become the Chair of the Commons Transport Select Committee, the post having become vacant after the death ofGwyneth Dunwoody MP.
Ellman is a member of Labour Friends of Israel. In March 2004 she defended Israeli assassination of Sheikh Yasin, the 66-year-old spiritual leader of Hamasand told Parliament that "Israel’s action in killing Sheikh Yasin was a legitimate response to an extraordinary situation." She voted "very strongly for" the Iraq War, "very strongly against" an investigation into that war, and "very strongly for" renewal of Trident, Britain's nuclear weapons programme. She is a supporter of gay rights and an opponent of foundation hospitals, the un-elected House of Lords, and fox-hunting. In her time in Parliament she has very rarely voted against the Party line.
In January 2011, during a debate on Anti-semitism she asked: "Does the hon. Gentleman share my concern that the anti-Semitism that he describes is rarely opposed by those who declare themselves anti-racist?"
In March 2010, her son Sean Ellman was exposed in the national newspapers as selling the then legal drug mephedrone, known as meow meow, from a chain of shops across the north of England. (The drug was declared illegal in the European Union in December 2010.) She said: "I disapprove of the trade involving miaow-miaow, legal highs or drugs in general. I am on record speaking out strongly against drugs and will continue to do so." On 16 August 2012 he failed to turn up in court to answer a charge under consumer protection legislation. His lawyer said he was on holiday with his 'respectable family'. Judge Nicholas Sanders said the situation was "utterly unacceptable" and warned that a warrant would be issued if he failed to turn up at the next court hearing on 14 September. On 13 May 2013 Chester Magistrates' Court ruled that there was no case to answer.
In the 2010 Election campaign leaflets had been distributed in her constituency of Liverpool Riverside targeting Mrs Ellman and Luciana Berger for their membership of Labour Friends of Israel and was headed "Don't vote for Friends of Israel". A leaflet headed "Remember Gaza" and subheaded "Don't vote for Labour Friends of Israel" was written and widely distributed by Liverpool Friends of Palestine and appears on the website LabourNet. An article appeared in the Jewish Chronicle entitled "Racist leaflets against Jewish candidates in Liverpool".
On 14 February 2011 she was invited by the BBC evening current affairs programme Newsnight to comment on a televised report shown in the programme, by the children's author Michael Morpurgo. Tensions were raised during the feature between Ellman, Morpurgo and host Jeremy Paxman, exemplified by this quote:
Ellman: "Well, how can they meet and how can they meet without a barrier when Hamas are sending those very children with their explosive belts across to kill Israeli children and Israeli civilians. All of that has to stop, but no one is entirely innocent here."
The BBC adjudication criticised Ellman and said: "It may well be that Mrs Ellman had in mind instances which dated back to 2003 or earlier, but she spoke in the present tense, and in terms which gave the impression that the use of child suicide-bombers by Hamas was a key consideration in the current situation." Mrs Ellman declined to comment.