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How Jeremy Corbyn treats the new Jewish Labour Movement chair remains to be seen

Lee Harpin sets out the challenge facing Ivor Caplin

    Ivor Caplin
    Ivor Caplin (Photo: Ivor Caplin)

    The Jewish Labour Movement could not have asked for a more experienced and level-headed political operator to take over the vacant post of the chair than Ivor Caplin.

    The circumstances behind previous chair Jeremy Newmark’s departure have inevitably led to a bumpy few months for the JLM.

    In parliamentary chair Luciana Berger, the group was lucky enough to have an organiser and speaker who stepped up to the mark, taking centre stage at both the ‘Enough Is Enough’ demonstration and in the Westminster antisemitism debate. But with her busy MP’s schedule, Ms Berger could only do so much extra work.

    In Mr Caplin, who runs his own business consultancy from his home town of Brighton and is an advisory member of the Terrence Higgins Trust board, the JLM have secured an individual who will be able to carve out time each week to devote to the organisation.

    They have also secured the experience of a man who, after seven years as the Hove MP and council leader, retains access to the corridors of power in Westminster and further afield.

    Despite some gloomy predictions for their future, the JLM has experienced something of a boom period since Jeremy Corbyn became Labour leader.

    A 500-member organisation has been transformed over the past three years into one of 2000-plus — the vast majority of whom are political activists and parliamentarians desperate to see a Labour Party that is more representative of their own moderately pro-Zionist and egalitarian values.

    In recent weeks, following the successful ‘Enough Is Enough’ protest it has been the Board of Deputies and the JLC who have taken centre stage in the fight against antisemitism.

    Not unreasonably, Mr Caplin is now suggesting only the JLM can legitimately speak out on behalf of members of Labour who are Jewish.

    Just how Mr Corbyn and his General Secretary Jennie Formby choose to treat Mr Caplin when he demands their attention remains to be seen.

    To some on the left of the party, because of his role as a junior defence minister in Tony Blair’s government at the time of the hated Iraq war, Mr Caplin will never be forgiven.

    Whether Mr Corbyn shares this view will become apparent over the next few weeks and months.

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