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We need a plan now for Prime Minister Corbyn

The prospect of the “absolute boy” pulling up outside Number 10 in that sleek Prime Ministerial Jaguar and walking through the front door is no longer as utterly bonkers as it previously seemed.

    British Jews must work out what exactly a Corbyn government would look like for our community (Photo: Getty)
    British Jews must work out what exactly a Corbyn government would look like for our community (Photo: Getty)

    I make no apologies, in this Tory conference week, for returning to the events at — and consequences of — Labour’s own horror show last week.

    Because even after two long, sordid years of writing about Jeremy Corbyn and Labour antisemitism, there is still so much more to mull over. 

    Like scraping dog muck off the soles of your favourite shoes, you never really get rid of it all, and even when you do, the repugnant whiff lingers.

    Reflecting over Yom Kippur on what I had witnessed in Brighton days earlier, a few points stuck in my mind. 

    For all the jokes and slurs about Mr Corbyn heard in synagogues up and down the country — we’ve all heard them — this is really no laughing matter any more. 

    He may be slightly wide of the mark when he claims Labour is on the “threshold” of power, but the prospect of the “absolute boy” — apparently it is a colloquial term akin to “mensch” — drawing up outside Number 10 in that sleek Prime Ministerial Jaguar and walking through the front door is no longer as utterly bonkers as it previously seemed. 

    Once that mental barrier has been broken for the public, anything is possible. 

    True, last week’s poll that put both Theresa May and “don’t know” ahead of the Labour leader in the “who-would-make-the-best-PM” stakes offers some solace.

    It says plenty that the public feel he is less favourable than the woman who conducted one of the worst election campaigns in modern times. But nonetheless, the once fanciful notion of Mr Corbyn leading the country has been regraded to “well, I guess it could happen, actually”. 

    The leaders of British Jewry had better have a cast-iron plan for how to deal with that eventuality. From my discussions with them, I can tell you, so far they do not. 

    What happens next? While Brexit is in play anything is possible and predictions seem pointless but the Tories would have to have an internal meltdown of truly monumental proportions for their MPs to vote for a general election they would be likely to lose.

    Whether Mrs May hangs on or not is now irrelevant. A better question is when will the next election take place? If it is at its latest possible date, in June 2022, Mr Corbyn will be 73 years old, will have been leader for nearly seven years, and surely will have lost the momentum he has built in the last six months. 

    Even the hardest Momentumites cannot spend the next five years trotting out their mind-numbing “oh Jeremy Corbyn” anthem without getting a bit bored and wondering where the heady days of summer and autumn 2017 went.

    Where would that leave Labour? Perhaps after a few inevitable Brexit bumps in the road Mr Corbyn will tire of the role, handing the hard-left torch to Rebecca Long-Bailey, Dawn Butler or Cat Smith — that’s if Labour can bring itself to have a woman as leader.

    Such a move would pit a political novice against either Mrs May with six years under her belt as Prime Minister, or a new Tory leader who would inevitably be a minister with a decade’s cabinet experience by that point. That might change the game a bit.

    But if not? When one communal leader said after the general election that it might be time to give Mr Corbyn “the benefit of the doubt” there was an angry reaction from many Jews. In the three months since, no one has adequately explained what alternatives they have found or publicly outlined a strategy. 

    Instinct tells me the Jewish Labour Movement’s positivity about having “turned” their party leader, prompting a slightly brighter outlook for the future, is sadly way off. Mr Corbyn is unlikely to start changing his life-long views now.

    With repentance currently in the air, British Jews must now confess we have spent too long with our heads in the sand and work out what exactly a Corbyn government would look like for our community. It is not just seasonal to do so, but imperative.

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