It’s game over for Labour under Corbyn’s ‘quasi-Marxists’, says Jewish peer who quit party

In an interview with the JC, peer explains why he felt he had to leave Labour


You can hear the pain in Parry Mitchell’s voice. But it is matched with a sense of indignation at what has happened to his party.

The peer, who resigned from Labour on Sunday following the re-election of Jeremy Corbyn, believes he is witnessing a complete re-drawing of the British political scene.

“The game is lost,” he says, 24 hours after announcing he would now sit on the cross-benches in the House of Lords.

“Having resigned, nobody has followed me. It’s no surprise. People are saying to me now, ‘we have to fight this thing, and you can only fight from the inside’.

“Everybody has got to make up their own mind. I can’t say ‘don’t vote', or 'vote Conservative or Lib Dem’ – I wouldn’t want to. But for an awful lot of people in the Jewish community, putting a cross next to a Labour candidate is a very difficult thing to do. It’s check-mate.”

For an awful lot of people in the Jewish community, putting a cross next to a Labour candidate is a very difficult thing to do Lord Mitchell

The 73-year-old has given years of service to Labour, but believes the party will never return to government in his lifetime.

He explains: “The mechanism is not there anymore to get rid of one leader and have another type of leader. These people have taken over and they will not relinquish the voting method they have. These guys are there for the foreseeable future.

“I’m in the business of winning - I hate losing. But these people have a different view. Jeremy Corbyn will not resign in 2020 if he loses the election, unless he has a health issue. If he does, John McDonnell (Shadow Chancellor), or someone else will take over. These people are not going away. It’s a grim outlook.”

Lord Mitchell, an IT entrepreneur who grew up in Hendon, north-west London, is an unashamed Blairite and was ennobled by the former prime minister in 2000.

While he disagreed with much of Ed Miliband’s approach, and had backed his brother David Miliband to be leader, Lord Mitchell served on the frontbench as a shadow business minister in 2012 and 2013.

“I’m New Labour to my core, which is very much out of vogue, I accept that,” the peer explains. “But nevertheless, under Tony Blair we won three elections, not having won one since 1974. We haven’t won one since. You cannot come to power in this country without taking Middle England with you.”

It is the shift from centre-left positions of the 2000s to the policies being introduced by Mr Corbyn and Mr McDonnell that has convinced the peer to leave.

Lord Mitchell says: “Corbyn is another ball-game altogether. This lot are quasi-Marxist in my view. I gave it a year to see what happened. When it became pretty obvious that Corbyn would win again and all these messianic types were getting very excited about the new beginning under Jeremy – I said this is not a party for me.

“It’s really hard. I haven’t just resigned over the antisemitism issue. That was the catalyst, but for me, the party has gone hard-left on all the issues that I hold dear: Nato, Trident, America, business, enterprise.

“How can I be a member of a party that is so opposed to those, even before you get on to the subject of its relationship with the Jewish community and with Israel?”

On that point, his frustration with the Chakrabarti report on antisemitism in Labour is evident. There is particular anger over Baroness Chakrabarti’s decision to rule out life bans for those expressing antisemitic views. It is an example, Lord Mitchell believes, of double standards. If someone made an anti-Muslim or anti-black comment they would “be out of the party forever, banned for life".

“Why doesn’t that apply as far as antisemitism is concerned? It’s just a slap on the wrist, ‘naughty boy, don’t worry about it, we’ll see you OK’. That’s Corbyn.”

While establishing the Coexistence Trust, a group that worked to improve Muslim-Jewish relations on university campuses, Lord Mitchell says he witnessed hard-left activists attempting to stir up tensions. Similar “nasty” forces are now operating within Labour, he claims.

So why not leave sooner? He had believed there was hope. Before May’s London mayoral election he worked closely with Sadiq Khan. “He is great, his relations with the community have been very good since he was elected. He continues to engage, a very nice guy. He’s my kind of left politician and he’s doing a great job.”

But the leadership election result has delivered the final, shattering blow to Lord Mitchell’s belief in serious change being possible.

The seeping away of Jewish support for the party is, he believes, a “great tragedy.

“In the Lords I will vote almost always with the Labour Party. That’s where my heart and soul is. I will not join another party. Independent Labour is how I’ll think of myself.

“I’m a supporter of Tottenham Hotspur – the chances of me joining the Conservatives are a bit like me buying a season ticket at Arsenal – it ain’t going to happen.”

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