Why I've cancelled my direct debit to Labour

By Jessica Elgot, March 29, 2012
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I 'm thinking of starting a support group. Our community is full of charities and counselling services. But I think we need another.

I'd call it "I used to vote Labour, but now I don't know what to do."

I imagine we'd sit in a semi-circle, heads in our hands, recalling how Ken campaigned for Lutfur Rahman - an independent with links to Islamic Forum Europe - to be mayor of Tower Hamlets, rather than the Labour candidate. We'd grimace at the memory of his chumminess with Yusuf al-Qaradawi.

We'd wear badges identifying our constituencies. Mine would probably draw some extra sympathy. I live in Islington North, the constituency of Jeremy Corbyn, the Press TV commentator who would have chaired the meeting with Palestinian leader Raed Salah at the House of Commons - had the Home Secretary not attempted to have Saleh banned from the UK.

This week I plan to return my membership card and cancel my direct debit. I joined because I wanted Labour to stay in government in 2010. Despite everything, I had some vague notion of being able to grit my teeth and vote Labour in May.

Ken's remarks last week were not the final straw. The rub is the reaction of Labour. Can it really be true that nobody in the campaign HQ thought it troubling that Ken believes that all Jews vote Conservative, and that "Jew", "Israeli" and "Zionist" can be used interchangeably? How could it have taken so long for the penny to drop?

I have written three times in a personal capacity to Ed Miliband. In July, I expressed my concern about my MP's jaunt to Beirut, for Viva Palestina's Summer University, alongside Palestinian hijacker Leila Khaled, and Azzam Tamimi, who has spoken of his desire to become a suicide bomber. No response.

I emailed expressing my alarm at Ken's backing for Rahman. No response. And having been invited to a fundraising night for Ken, I wrote that he should spend more time working out how large his cheque to HMRC should be. No response.

This mayoral election will be the first election I do not vote Labour. If Corbyn stands in the next election in Islington North, I will not vote Labour then either. It is sad that it is the people, and not the policies, which have driven so many Jewish voters away.

Last updated: 12:31pm, March 29 2012