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The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS -

IT IS not hard to as­sess Dawn But­ler’s time as Shadow Min­is­ter for Di­verse Com­mu­ni­ties in Jeremy Cor­byn’s shadow cab­i­net.

The four­month spell will be re­called — if it is ever re­mem­bered at all — as one of the most point­less ap­point­ments in the his­tory of Bri­tish pol­i­tics.

Her res­ig­na­tion last week, over Mr Cor­byn’s stance on trig­ger­ing Brexit, went al­most com­pletely un­no­ticed by Bri­tish Jews.

From day one, Ms But­ler failed to grasp her brief. A dis­as­trous de­but ra­dio in­ter­view saw her at­tempt to claim she would not be re­spon­si­ble for Labour’s re­la­tion­ship with the Jewish com­mu­nity, be­fore a quick U-turn left her boast­ing she would meet com­mu­nal lead­ers within 100 days — as if she were a United States pres­i­dent freshly in­stalled in the White House.

It was an em­bar­rass­ing start from which she never man­aged to re­cov­ered.

She re­peat­edly flip-flopped on whether to speak pub­licly about what she hoped to achieve in the job. And when she bris­tled pri­vately at the crit­i­cism of her ini­tial ef­forts a month af­ter her ap­point­ment, she was still un­pre­pared to come out and put the record straight.

The true ex­tent of the Brent Cen­tral MP’s lack of in­ter­est was ap­par­ent by mid-Novem­ber. Ms But­ler had not yet found the time to dis­cuss her party’s per­sis­tant Jew-ha­tred prob­lems with her col­leagues, Lu­ciana Berger, Ruth Smeeth and Louise Ell­man. De­spite the tor­rents of well­doc­u­mented abuse di­rected at that trio of Jewish MPs, Ms But­ler was not suf­fi­ciently en­gaged even to ask them about the is­sue over a cup of tea.

That level of in­com­pe­tence was hard to shake off. It took weeks for Ms But­ler to con­vene her first meet­ing with com­mu­nal lead­ers.

When it did even­tu­ally take place in early De­cem­ber, it pro- duced noth­ing. One par­tic­i­pant said Ms But­ler had at­tempted to “make the best of it”, but oth­ers said she ap­peared to hav no idea what she was do­ing.

The lat­ter view was re­in­forced when her of­fice re­peat­edly re­fused to say in ad­vance who had been in­vited to the ses­sion, or even sub­se­quently who had at­tended.

While Ms But­ler de­clared the meet­ing “ro­bust”, its Jewish at­ten­dees, with­out ex­cep­tion, de­clined to com­ment on its con­tents or out­come.

The shadow min­is­ter missed so many open goals. She was a no-show at a Mitz­vah Day re­cep­tion she had been due to at­tend; she did not re­ply ini­tially to an in­vi­ta­tion from the Board of Deputies for a meet­ing; and later she dipped in and out of the Board’s Par­lia­men­tary Chanukah party in min­utes, hav­ing failed to speak to any of the Jews in the room.

No im­me­di­ate ef­fort has been made to re­place her in the shadow cab­i­net. Mr Cor­byn’s of­fice did not re­ply to ques­tions about the fu­ture of the role.

But Ms But­ler’s piti­ful time as Shadow “Min­is­ter for Jews” re­veals a greater truth.

For all his oc­ca­sional luke­warm words about tack­ling an­tisemitism, it is these real-life ex­pe­ri­ences which give the true mea­sure of Jeremy Cor­byn’s in­ten­tion to im­prove re­la­tions with Bri­tish Jews: he could hardly care less.

From day one, she failed to grasp her brief’


Dawn But­ler: flip-flopped

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