European Parliament elections: platitudes, not policies

The leading issues in this month’s European Parliament elections — immigration and Britain’s future role in the European Union — are not topics of specific Jewish interest. But there are a number of potential outcomes when voters go to the polls which could have a direct impact.

Not least the threat posed by extreme far-right groups on the continent and the ongoing challenges to shechitah and brit milah.

They make the largely tepid responses from Britain’s leading parties to our questions on the issues concerning.
David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg have all pledged to protect Jewish practices at home and abroad. But beyond the platitudes there seems to be little depth of knowledge.

The Tory response to concern over religious slaughter and circumcision was astonishingly vague. Interesting as it may be to some voters, views on the future of EU fisheries legislation will excite few Jews, beyond concern that their smoked salmon bagels may suffer in some way.

Mr Miliband’s advisers have at least developed clear positions on labelling of meat and the danger of singling out kosher practices. Labour MEPs have voted accordingly and can be expected to do so again post-election.
The Lib Dems give the standard pledge to support a two-state solution, but offer little analysis of the realities faced in Israel and the West Bank.

Baroness Ludford’s claim that the Jewish community has “good friends” within the party may well be true. But few will have forgotten Mr Clegg’s abysmal track-record on dealing with MP David Ward’s comments about “Jews inflicting atrocities on Palestinians”.

In theory there is much to reassure Jewish voters, but it is unclear how the parties would stand up to practical testing of their positions.

Last updated: 5:45pm, May 1 2014