Phoney cam­paign’s fish fin­gers and frus­tra­tion

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS -

FED UP yet? It might be called a “snap” gen­eral elec­tion but, if the first 10 days of this cam­paign are any­thing to go by, the next few weeks could be short on ac­tion.

For all the talk of be­ing elec­tion­ready, plenty of con­stituency par­ties on all sides of the po­lit­i­cal spec­trum were caught out by Theresa May, mean­ing thou­sands of par­lia­men­tary can­di­dates are yet to be se­lected.

The sub­se­quent lack of cam­paign­ing ac­tiv­ity in con­stituen­cies has left politi­cians, the me­dia and to a lesser ex­tent vot­ers, frus­trated and turn­ing their at­ten­tion to triv­ial mat­ters such as Ukip leader Paul Nut­tall lock­ing him­self in a room, celebrity en­dorse­ments and a fish fin­ger tak­ing on Tim Far­ron.

Mrs May has rarely been seen. Oc­ca­sional speeches and photo op­por­tu­ni­ties have not been fol­lowed by jour­nal­ists’ ques­tions, ren­der­ing it al­most im­pos­si­ble to hold the Prime Min­is­ter to ac­count.

Aside from her cam­paign trail de­but last week in Bolton, where she was pho­tographed shak­ing hands with Rabbi Arnold Saun­ders, a Tory coun­cil­lor, there has been lit­tle to pique the in­ter­est.

The Tory strat­egy is clear: give Jeremy Cor­byn plenty of air time and leave vot­ers to make up their own minds. In­deed, Mr Cor­byn’s in­ter­view with An­drew Marr last Sun­day was not what you would call a suc­cess.

In 23 min­utes, the Labour leader sug­gested he would not de­fend Bri­tain against nu­clear at­tack, would not sanc­tion drone strikes on Daesh lead­ers and could can­cel air strikes in Syria.

Mrs May is due to have her turn on Mr Marr’s sofa this week­end and can hardly fare worse.

With large swathes of the Jewish com­mu­nity — anec­do­tally at least — hav­ing made their minds up on how they will vote, and with so lit­tle se­ri­ous de­bate tak­ing place, we find our­selves in a phoney cam­paign, await­ing the real ac­tion.

Only two months ago, I wrote in this col­umn about the philosemitic qual­i­ties of Sir Eric Pick­les, one of Is­rael’s strong­est ad­vo­cates in Par­lia­ment.

The news he will not stand for elec­tion in June is dis­ap­point­ing and soft­ened only by the like­li­hood of his re-emer­gence in the Lords in the months to come.

Like­wise, the de­par­ture of Labour’s Michael Dugher, an­other York­shire­man un­afraid to speak his mind and de­fend Is­rael, is an­other blow.

Th­ese two cheer­ful chaps could be the tip of the ice­berg. After June 8, the com­mu­nity is likely to be less well-sup­ported on all sides of the Com­mons — a rea­son for con­cern re­gard­less of your po­lit­i­cal colours.

Theresa May with Rabbi Arnold Saun­ders

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