Horrors! Corbyn’s a ‘PM in waiting’ – accept it

 JVL Introduction

Geoffrey Alderman is renowned for his work in the field of modern Anglo-Jewish history.

We don’t often agree with him politically but have admired his dogged persistence over the years at taking on those who have claimed to be representative of all British Jewry. See for instance his 2012 article “Once, the chief rabbi represented all British Jewry. No longer

In this article he is once again out of step with Jewish “orthodoxy”.

Horrors! Corbyn’s a ‘PM in waiting’ – accept it

Geoffrey Alderman, Jewish Telegraph
18 April 2019

WE live in interesting times. Earlier this month, our beleaguered prime minister, Theresa May, invited into 10 Downing Street Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition.

Her purpose in extending this invitation — which he graciously accepted — was to enlist his support in the current crisis over the precise terms of the UK’s exit from the European Union.

But don’t worry. I’m not going to bore you about Brexit.

My purpose, rather, is to focus on the person of Jeremy Corbyn, whom we must now clearly regard as a potential prime minister.

The opinion polls, which for months have been showing the Corbyn-led Labour Party trailing the May-led Tories, are now announcing a Labour lead.

I would be the last person to insist that we must trust the polls. We mustn’t. But if a general election was held soon, it is entirely possible that Labour would win more seats than the Conservative Party, whose back has been well and truly broken on the Brexit wheel.

In that scenario, the Queen would be bound to call on Corbyn to form a minority government.

What, from the point of view of British Jewry, would such a government hold in store?

In spite of numerous scare stories, I honestly can’t see such a government banning shechita or brit mila. If Diane Abbott, currently Shadow Home Secretary, found herself actually in charge of the Home Office, would she outrage her many charedi constituents by closing down synagogues and moving to deprive Jews of the rights of British citizenship?

Of course not.

We might indeed see a Corbyn-led government cosying-up to the BDS movement. Labour is already committed to recognising a Palestinian state “immediately” it forms a government, so such a recognition is a probability.

Would Israel then sever diplomatic relations with the UK? I doubt it. The recognition of a Palestinian state would remain a symbolic but, in practical terms, meaningless gesture.

Corbyn’s Foreign Secretary (the tactless Emily Thornberry) might enjoy striding on to the podium at the UN Security Council to support — perhaps even to propose — some blood-curdling resolution denouncing the Jewish state as a neo-colonialist plot.

She would do so safe in the knowledge that American president Donald Trump would veto it. And let’s remember that on December 23, 2016, in the dying days of the Obama-led administration, a UN Security Council resolution condemning in the most explicit terms Jewish control of the West Bank and east Jerusalem — including the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem and the Western Wall — was adopted with the full-hearted consent and approbation of Theresa May and her tactless Foreign Secretary, one Boris Johnson.

The Tory-controlled UK government could have abstained. It could even have exercised its veto. It chose to do neither.

Reacting to that act of betrayal, I outlined in this column on January 13, 2017, a number of concrete measures that those who order the affairs of British Jewry might have taken to signal the community’s anger.

I suggested that May and Johnson could be disinvited from all communal events, and that Jewish groups should withdraw from co-operation with May’s government — for instance over security issues and the anti-terrorism “Prevent” agenda.

A communal macher took me aside and pointed out that these bold suggestions would never be acted upon, because those who order the affairs of British Jewry would never forego the chance of a Downing Street photoshoot and the yichus that such an opportunity apparently confers.

He’s right. By the same token, our narcissistic communal leadership would positively salivate on receiving, and being able to courteously accept, an invitation from Prime Minister Corbyn to take morning coffee or afternoon tea at No 10.

As a matter of fact, Jeremy Corbyn has an impressive demonstrable record of supporting Jewish communal initiatives.

In 2010, he put his name to an Early Day Motion — tabled by Diane Abbott in the Commons — calling on the UK government to facilitate the settlement of Yemeni Jews in Britain.

He was supportive of Jewish efforts to facilitate the speedy issue of death certificates by the North London coroner.

In June, 2015, he took part in a ceremony in his Islington constituency to commemorate the original site of the North London Synagogue.

Of course, there’s another side to this story. In relation to Jewish sensitivities, Corbyn has on too many occasions acted foolishly, I suspect without thinking through the long-term consequences of his actions.

The fact remains that he is a prime minister “in waiting”. We must learn to accept that reality.

Comments (3)

  • George Wilmers says:

    Geoffrey Alderman has hitherto been very much a part of the Witch Hunt against Corbyn, and systematically conflates antizionism with antisemitism, However, unlike most Israel lobby hacks, he is a historian and too intelligent not to know the difference. His opinion pieces often demonstrate what could be described as a kind of intellectual realpolitik, with sometimes retrospectively amusing consequences.

    In 2012 Jeremy Corbyn supported calls for a public inquiry into “the government’s relationship to the pro-Israel lobby” and in particular the relationship of then prime minister David Cameron to pro-Israel lobbying goups. In an article in the Jewish Chronicle in May 2012, Alderman routinely attacked this suggestion as amounting to a call for “an investigation of Jewish influence on the Conservative party”, adopting the usual sleight of hand of Zionists who accuse critics of Israel of antisemitism. However he then went on to make what with hindsight seems like an excellent suggestion. I quote:

    “Now you might argue that that itself is no reason why such an inquiry should not be launched. …. I want to hold out an olive branch. I would support – in principle – a public inquiry into the matters that trouble them if (and only if) that same inquiry inquired into matters such as the Muslim dimension to the politics of the Labour party – in fact of all political parties – and the influence of the Arab lobby on UK politics. Indeed if we are minded to investigate the impact of religious and ethnic minorities on the British polity let us do so by all means, but in a comprehensive, non-partisan way.”

    Of course Corbyn’s suggestion was not about investigating the influence of a “religious or ethnic minority” as Geoffrey Alderman pretended, but rather about investigating lobbying on behalf of the State of Israel. However with this obvious correction, Alderman’s generalised proposal now seems to be a very timely.

    Indeed, Geoffrey, let’s have a public inquiry into the lobbying of the Labour, Conservative, UKIP and Brexit parties by or on behalf of the governments of Israel, Saudi Arabia, the US, Russia and China. Wouldn’t that be interesting?


  • philiph35 says:

    I imagine few are worried about the banning of shechita or brit mila though both practices have provoked concern and I believe there is even legislation against the former in some European countries. Equally no one is talking about closing down synagogues and moving to deprive Jews of the rights of British citizenship. However many might reasonably fear that Zionist institutions might be closed and Zionists, who are regarded as the very worst of criminals, deprived of their rights. [The website editor writes: we’ve left this sentence in though it is inconceivable that “Zionists” will be “deprived of their rights” under a Corbyn government. What possible justification can the writer have for describing an off-the-wall idea as a “reasonabl[e] fear”? None is offered here…]

    At the very least, I am quite sure that the kind of Jew who might expect to be received by the Prime Minister will not receive an invitation from Prime Minister Corbyn to take morning coffee or afternoon tea at No 10.

  • Duncan Jennings says:

    If there are any hacks it would appear to be the JVL lackeys who do not have the sanity to think for themselves.

    It would be gratifying to hear some original thinking !!

    [We thought we’d approve this comment as an example of the original thinking the author is clearly seeking…- ed]

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