We have electoral reasons to be cheerful in Scotland

There is one part of the UK where the election results were good, or at least better, for the Jews

June 14, 2017 17:07

If we apply the Bubbe Barometer - “Is it good for the Jews?” - it’s difficult to conclude that the outcome of the general election passes muster.

Far from leading Labour to an historic low, Jeremy Corbyn took 40 per cent of the vote and deprived Theresa May of a majority.

Faced by a man who had spent his political career making common cause with Islamists, antisemites and Holocaust-deniers, four in ten Britons signed up for Prime Minister Corbyn.

The implications for British Jews, the UK’s relationship with Israel, and the fight against antisemitism, cannot be understated.

But there is one part of the UK where the election results were good, or at least better, for the Jews.

In Scotland, the SNP suffered a dizzying reversal, losing more than a third of their seats including former party leader Alex Salmond and the Nationalists’ leader in the Commons, Angus Robertson.

Just two years after handing the SNP all but three Scottish seats at Westminster, voters kicked back against Nicola Sturgeon’s campaign for another independence referendum. The Tories capitalised on this and picked up 12 extra seats, their best night in Scotland since 1983.

Claiming Mr Salmond’s scalp was a shining prize for Ruth Davidson’s party, but the real jewel in the crown was regaining East Renfrewshire, which they lost to Jim Murphy in 1997. The affluent suburban seat, home to much of Scotland’s Jewish community, was the embodiment of New Labour in Scotland but it has again become a blue bastion.

Tory Jackson Carlaw took Eastwood, the equivalent seat in the 2016 Scottish Parliament election, and now solicitor Paul Masterton will represent East Renfrewshire in Westminster.

What unites Mr Masterton and Mr Carlaw, and is common across the Scottish Conservatives, is firm support for Israel, opposition to BDS, and a commitment to combating antisemitism.

Labour’s candidate Blair McDougall, who ran the winning No campaign in the 2014 Scottish referendum, is a Labour moderate and like Mr Masterton signed the We Believe in Israel election pledge. However, Labour’s embrace of Mr Corbyn, and the normalising of antisemitism within the party, was always going to hinder him.

With some honourable exceptions (Stewart McDonald, who was re-elected in Glasgow South, takes a more balanced view), most in the SNP are sharply hostile to Israel and its interests. While some such as Tommy Sheppard and Dr Philippa Whitford, key players in the powerful SNP Friends of Palestine lobby, were returned to the Commons, there was better news in the Highlands, with the defeat of Paul Monaghan.

He had tweeted during Operation Pillar of Defence: “The proud Jewish race, so ashamedly persecuted by the Nazis, now persecuting the people of #Gaza. Are memories so short?”. The JC later forced an apology.

His defeat in Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross will be welcomed by Scottish Jews.

The SNP will now come under pressure to drop their push for a second independence referendum. The party is weakened and on the run from its record in devolved government.

One silver lining is that they might be too distracted to grandstand and demagogue on the Middle East.

Stephen Daisley is a columnist for the Scottish Daily Mail

June 14, 2017 17:07

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