Community just can't leave Labour alone

November 24, 2016 23:12

As the train carried me home from Labour's party conference, I peered out across Merseyside and pondered what I had seen and heard.

It was not the gloom as we passed through Runcorn that vexed me, but the seemingly endless damage being done to the party's relationship with the Jewish community.

Jeremy Corbyn gave a decent speech at the Labour Friends of Israel reception and received warm, deserved applause in return. But, within hours, Jackie Walker's comments sparked fresh controversy. One step forward, two steps back.

In the days before Rosh Hashanah I asked my Jewish Twitter followers to vote in a light-hearted poll. What were they most looking forward to about the impending two-day New Year break? Was it the prospect of seeing family and friends, or perhaps dipping an apple in some tasty honey?

Only four per cent claimed a trip to shul whetted their appetite most, but a whopping 66 per cent clicked on the option of "two days off from Labour".

Signing off from social media, I looked forward to exactly that.

It may have been a humorous take, but the joke was soon on me. Because there was only one topic of political conversation in the shuls of south Manchester and around the dining table on Yomtov - Labour antisemitism.

Repeatedly, I was asked whether Mr Corbyn hated Jews. I pointed to his repeated denouncements of antisemitism and intention to fight it with "every breath". Everyone else pointed to his lack of action.

This has become a scab on the community's knee. Up and down the country, however much we want to stop reading about it, writing about it, talking about it, British Jews on all sides of the political spectrum simply cannot stop scratching that annoying itch. It feels like an endless loop of helplessness.

● Diane James's resignation as Ukip leader on Tuesday has robbed me of the chance to assess the party's future under her stewardship.

Her 18 days in charge makes Nigel Farage's dilly-dallying over his position last year look almost statesman-like. Surely only one candidate can now unite the Kippers - step forward Ukip's resident Lubavitcher, Shneur Odze.

November 24, 2016 23:12

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