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Far left has momentum to take over Labour

Political Editor Marcus Dysch assesses another tumultuous week for Jeremy Corbyn's party

    Jon Lansman's election to Labour's NEC represents the achievement of a life goal for the 60-year-old (Photo: PA)
    Jon Lansman's election to Labour's NEC represents the achievement of a life goal for the 60-year-old (Photo: PA)

    A fortnight after I issued a rallying call for a “credible Labour figure to repair the party’s relationship with British Jews”, has just such a candidate emerged?

    This guy is a Jewish former kibbutznik, a party veteran who goes to Limmud, a close ally of Jeremy Corbyn and hugely influential. 

    Perfect, right?

    So why does the election of Jon Lansman to Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC) this week seem like a move which leaves the party’s future looking more gloomy, rather than the opposite?

    Only last month, Mr Lansman outlined the three types of antisemitism in politics which give him the most concern. He acknowledged, as honestly as anyone in the party has in the past two and a half years, the key fears British Jews have about Mr Corbyn’s associations with Holocaust deniers and terror groups. In a way, it was quite impressive.

    As the 60-year-old takes his seat at the party’s top table, achieving a life goal and preparing to play a significant role in Labour’s future direction, the Jewish community could have been expected to breathe a sigh of relief.

    But the reality is likely to be quite different. Because Mr Lansman and his Momentum colleagues who now wield considerable power within the tent, rather than pishing into it from the fringes, are expected to turn their attention to matters other than those outlined above.

    Within 24 hours of their election, moderate Labour MPs were threatening to quit the party and sit as independents amid fears the hard-left will pursue deselections with new vigour.

    By Tuesday, the hard-left power-grab had extended to ousting the long-standing, neutral chair of the party’s disputes panel. Adopting a veteran left-winger would seem to make more uncertain the future of a series of investigations into antisemitism allegations.

    The protestations from Jewish figures in Westminster over this week’s events seem futile. Sincere as they are, and real as the anger may be, strong words have had no effect on the Corbynites. As the hard-left celebrate their latest successes, they will care even less about the community’s concerns.

    Perhaps Mr Lansman will prove me wrong, do the right thing and make a quid pro quo with his fellow activists: take the party further to the left but quash Jew-hate on the way. 

    If not, the horrors of the past two years — the suspensions following antisemitism allegations, Mr Corbyn’s reluctance to engage with British Jews, the promotion of questionable characters with soiled CVs — may look like merely the prelude to an exceptionally unpalatable main course.

    Ukip leader Henry Bolton with his now ex-girlfriend, Jane Marney
    Ukip leader Henry Bolton with his now ex-girlfriend, Jane Marney

    • The future of Henry Bolton, Ukip’s current leader — its fourth in 18 months — was hanging in the balance this week after the 54-year-old dumped his 25-year-old girlfriend over her repulsive text messages about Meghan Markle, black people and child abuse.

      It always seemed rather incongruous that so many Jewish voters were supposedly prepared to back the party, under Nigel Farage’s leadership, in the period around the 2015 general election.

      A rag-tag bunch with a remarkable ability to attract racists and former BNP members with its hard line on immigration, Ukip was never, in reality, going to be a comfortable home for British Jews.

      Its almost complete implosion in the months after Britain voted to leave the EU — the only policy Mr Farage was ever really interested in — may have been inevitable.

      The Kippers won’t be missed. But the real concern is over what will fill the void left when Ukip is rightly consigned to the scrapheap.

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