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