Prepare to be wooed as polling day approaches

November 24, 2016 23:22

How do you know an election is on the way? Politicians suddenly fall over themselves to speak to the Jewish community.

Communal leaders and Israel supporters travelled from one swanky reception to another as the campaign to attract voters ahead of next May's poll received a Chanucah-inspired boost this week.

The love-bombing began on Sunday at the UJS conference, where Culture Secretary Sajid Javid set the benchmark with a philosemitic speech widely regarded as one of the finest made by any government minister on any topic in recent years.

Then David Cameron, accompanied by almost the entire parliamentary Conservative Party and more than half the cabinet, turned out for the Conservative Friends of Israel.

The Prime Minister is clearly at ease when surrounded by Jewish colleagues, supporters and donors. On our issues, he speaks with an authority that eludes many who are themselves Jewish. Even talmudic quotations are now part of his lexicon.

Wednesday evening's Number 10 Chanucah reception marked at least the sixth such love-in for Mr Cameron and the community in the past 15 months. That is a remarkable tally for any minority group and the result is overwhelming support for him from communal movers and shakers - even those who would naturally vote Labour profess admiration for his efforts.

One senior Jewish Tory suggested to me that Mr Cameron should now be considered an even closer friend of the community than Margaret Thatcher was during her Downing Street years.

For decades, she has been seen as the exemplar of non-Jewish political support for Israel and Anglo-Jewry. Maybe not any more.

Hours after Mr Cameron's CFI speech, the Board of Deputies Chanucah reception saw Commons Speaker John Bercow, Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper, and Liberal Democrat president Tim Farron attack antisemitism and promise to protect British Jews.

Expect more of this when Parliament returns from its winter recess, but it will take something special for anyone to beat Mr Cameron.

November 24, 2016 23:22

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