Man­del­son’s bat­tle to bring down Cor­byn

The Jewish Chronicle - - FRONT PAGE - BY LEE HARPIN

LORD MAN­DEL­SON used a JC event this week to launch a sting­ing at­tack on Jeremy Cor­byn — and re­veal the ex­tent of his own Jewish roots.

Speak­ing at the JC Edi­tor’s Choice evening at the JW3 com­mu­nity cen­tre on Mon­day night, the Labour peer, de­scribed grow­ing up in Hamp­stead Gar­den Sub­urb, in north-west Lon­don, and his fa­ther Tony’s ten­ure as ad­ver­tis­ing di­rec­tor of the JC.

As the youngest son of Mary Mor­ri­son, the daugh­ter of Labour fire­brand Her­bert Mor­ri­son, Lord Man­del­son ac­knowl­edged he was not brought up in a par­tic­u­larly Jewish house­hold.

He said his fa­ther was “an athe­ist” who came speed­ily to Is­rael’s de­fence at times of con­flict such as the Six-Day War.

Re­call­ing his fa­ther’s time at the JC, Lord Man­del­son said the news­pa­per where he worked from 1947 un­til re­tire­ment was “his life.”

The peer told the au­di­ence that his own main con­nec­tion to Ju­daism these days was the oc­ca­sional Fri­day-night din­ner. He said: “I think of my­self be­ing Jewish when I’m with Jewish fam­i­lies on a Fri­day night.

“If I’m in Lon­don on Fri­day night there are some peo­ple I like to go to and have a Jewish happy Fri­day night with. That ba­si­cally is my link.”

An­swer­ing ques­tions put by JC edi­tor Stephen Pol­lard, the peer said he was work­ing “ev­ery sin­gle day” to help res­cue the party from Mr Cor­byn’s lead­er­ship.

Lord Man­del­son, a for­mer Euro­pean Com­mis­sioner and a Cab­i­net min­is­ter in Tony Blair’s gov­ern­ment, re­vealed that, “I work ev­ery sin­gle day, in some small way, to try to move for­ward the end of his ten­ure in of­fice.

“I work ev­ery day — an email, a phone call, a meet­ing with Labour MPs.

“I try and gal­vanise them. Ev­ery day I do some­thing to res­cue the Labour Party from his lead­er­ship.”

Asked whether the party could re­cover from its cur­rent low stand­ing, Lord Man­del­son said: “Look, the Labour Party at the mo­ment is on life sup­port. I think it’s not dead, I think it can re­cover and pass out of the A&E route in due course, if we want to get an­other leader.

“The prob­lem with Jeremy is — it’s not as if he’s a ma­niac, it’s not as if he’s a nasty per­son. It’s that he lit­er­ally has no idea in the 21st cen­tury how to con­duct him­self as a leader of a party putting it­self for­ward in a demo­cratic elec­tion to be­come the gov­ern­ment of our coun­try. It’s as if he’s in a par­al­lel uni­verse.”

He added that, in his view, Mr Cor­byn “will grav­i­tate to what­ever re­volt, in­sur­rec­tion or protest move­ment that’s in sight. Per­haps he could be a lit­tle more dis­crim­i­nat­ing.

“That’s his whole politics — he’s been like it for 35 years. He was not a fre­quent sup­porter of the last Labour gov­ern­ment — he voted against it 500 times.”

Asked why he hadn’t aban­doned Labour al­to­gether, Lord Man­del­son said that, hav­ing grown up in a staunch Labour house­hold, he would re­sent “hand­ing over the ti­tle deeds to Jeremy Cor­byn.”

Lord Man­del­son spoke of his ad­mi­ra­tion for Mr Blair’s pro-Re­main speech ahead of this week’s Brexit Bill de­bate in the House of Lords.

He said: “A speech of that qual­ity could not have been de­liv­ered by an­other per­son — to think it through, to write it.

“I do have plenty of peo­ple I know, friends, who rather parted com­pany with Tony mainly over [the] Iraq [war] and other things.

“I’ve had a lot of emails and texts over the week­end say­ing ‘all credit to him for show­ing the courage to speak out’.”

PHOTO: JOHN RIFKIN

Lord Man­del­son gives his re­sponse to a ques­tion from JC edi­tor Stephen Pol­lard at the event at JW3 this week

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