Whatever merit the idea of an All-Party Parliamentary Group on British Jews might have — and there is a good case to be made for it — the Board of Deputies’ role in its formation is a textbook example of how not to go about such a project.
Yes, the Board is democratic. But the fact that most Deputies are elected does not mean that the Board has licence to do as it pleases, when it pleases.
There could scarcely be a more crass or counter-productive method of establishing a group that is, by definition, supposed to be inclusive and outward-looking than by plotting it in secret and announcing its creation to the rest of Anglo-Jewry by press release.
Whatever the Board’s view of the legitimacy of the JLC and other communal bodies, common sense — let alone courtesy — dictates that they should have been consulted about the establishment of the group. And what a farce its creation has been!
Beyond Matthew Offord, the Hendon MP whose relations even with his own local party, let alone the rest of his constituency, are, to put it mildly, strained, the Board cannot identify a single Parliamentarian who will join the group.
Of course MPs and peers will eventually join. We are a fortunate community that always has good support in Parliament.
But do not be fooled by the idea that, when it eventually begins its work, the fact that MPs and peers have signed up as members gives an ex post facto justification for the Board’s actions.
Presumably it thinks it is showing leadership. But its arrogant disregard for the rest of the community’s organisations is a demonstration not of leadership but incompetence.
And that is without even considering its inability to be able to name a single member of the group (beyond its founder) or to give any clear indication of how it will go about its business — or what that business will be.
Far from re-establishing the Board as a dynamic organisation, this episode raises even more questions about its ability to lead in its present form.