The Jewish Chronicle - - COMMENT & ANALYSIS -

The ar­ti­cle by Ge­of­frey Al­der­man Just what will be his legacy? ( JC, Dec 25) is im­por­tant in that it will be a “source doc­u­ment” when a bi­og­ra­phy of Gre­ville Jan­ner is sub­se­quently writ­ten.

How­ever, there are some ma­jor er­rors of fact that must be cor­rected at this stage.

First, let me take the events of May 1970. Harold Wil­son, who was then Prime Min­is­ter, an­nounced to the na­tion on May 18 that Par­lia­ment would be pro­rogued on May 29, and that a gen­eral elec­tion would take place on June 18.

Bar­nett Jan­ner was then ap­proach­ing his 78th birth­day. Ap­par­ently, he was ad­vised by his doc­tor that he was med­i­cally un­fit to fight an­other elec­tion, and he so ad­vised the man­age­ment com­mit­tee of the North West Le­ices­ter Labour Party on Thurs­day, May 21.

The man­age­ment com­mit­tee was sub­se­quently in tur­moil. There was ex­actly 18 days be­fore nom­i­na­tion of can­di­dates for par­lia­ment closed on Mon­day, June 8.

Nev­er­the­less, the va­cancy was made known to all those on the Labour Party can­di­dates’ list.

There were many ap­pli­cants, and the man­age­ment com­mit­tee pre­pared a short­list. Gre­ville Jan­ner, who had not stood for par­lia­ment since 1955, ap­plied and gained a place on the short­list.

At no time, did Bar­nett Jan­ner take any part in the pro­ceed­ings fol­low­ing his with­drawal.

He was scrupu­lously care­ful not to be in­volved.

The can­di­dates on the short­list were in­ter­viewed on around June 2, and Gre­ville Jan­ner was se­lected. No doubt, the name was a great ad­van­tage, as the con­stituents all knew Jan­ner.

I now re­turn to Gre­ville Jan­ner as Pres­i­dent of the Board of Deputies from 1979 to 1985.

I sat next to him on the plat­form, and he was care­ful to have bal­anced de­bates and to hear vary­ing points of view. His six years were not mired in con­tro­versy.

There was only one painful episode — he had ini­ti­ated a fes­ti­val of Bri­tish Jewry with sev­eral func­tions dur­ing 1984 to 1985, cul­mi­nat­ing in a ma­jor func­tion at Hamp­ton Court Palace early in June 1985. This was to be his grand fi­nale, with the Prince and Princess of Wales as his guests of hon­our.

Un­for­tu­nately it was a fi­asco, pri­mar­ily be­cause it was a two-tier func­tion, with a cer­tain num­ber din­ing with the roy­als.

When the pres­i­dent emerged with the guests of hon­our, there was no or­gan­i­sa­tion and the sit­u­a­tion was chaotic.

Fi­nally, Ge­of­frey Al­der­man refers to “his Vice Pres­i­dent” Martin Savitt as Jan­ner’s cho­sen suc­ces­sor. Ge­of­frey Al­der­man was then a mem­ber of the Board of Deputies rep­re­sent­ing Clap­ton syn­a­gogue.

He has a good mem­ory, and is well aware that there were two Vice Pres­i­dents. I was the Se­nior Vice Pres­i­dent, and Martin Savitt the Ju­nior Vice Pres­i­dent.

If Martin Savitt was his per­sonal choice as suc­ces­sor, he never stated this pub­licly and, like his pre­de­ces­sors, when a pres­i­den­tial con­test was to take place, he did not en­dorse ei­ther can­di­date.

I was elected be­cause I had a solid provin­cial vote, and a sig­nif­i­cant vote from deputies rep­re­sent­ing sy­n­a­gogues in Lon­don. I was known for my syn­a­go­gal ac­tiv­i­ties in New­cas­tle, and was re­garded as a “shul man.”

Martin Savitt did not lose be­cause he pub­licly de­fended Gre­ville Jan­ner.

Th­ese points must be recorded, as pos­ter­ity de­mands it. Lionel Kopelowitz Se­nior Past Pres­i­dent, Board of Deputies of Bri­tish Jews

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