The Lib Dems are an obvious refuge for people like me
AS A Labour and “Remain” supporting Jew in London, the general election presents a problem. Sarah Sackman is the likely Labour candidate in my constituency, Finchley and Golders Green. She’s excellent and committed: I voted for her in the 2015 election. However, with apologies for the use of such hackneyed idiom, I can’t help but feel that being asked to vote Labour now is like a turkey being asked to vote for Christmas.
I have voted Labour all my adult life so some might accuse me of blind tribal loyalty. However, my support has come from alignment between the values that have mattered most to me and those that I have seen reflected in the policy and ethos of the Labour party.
Examples include the approach to education (ignoring difficulties like prominent Labour MPs “going private”), the support and funding of the NHS, and the establishment and enforcement of the minimum wage.
I have once, in the 2012 London mayoral election when Boris Johnson was standing against Ken Livingstone, strayed from this position. I do not believe I was alone in this.
But now with the general election upon us, I’m torn. The EU referendum result was disappointing to the majority of Londoners. The internal politics of the Conservative party and the desire to fend off the threat of UKIP led the reckless David Cameron to call the referendum in the first place. I recognise that many believed voting out was best for them and the country. However,
Turkeys voting for Christmas? the failure of the Labour leadership to campaign as if they cared added to the perfect storm of factors that produced the result in June.
So, before we even get to the Corbyn response to antisemitism, the tepid Chakrabarti report (followed by quick peerage), the botched launch of the report itself, the not infrequent utterances from the upper echelons of Momentum, the tardy response to issues like the Oxford University Labour Club, “Zio” incidents, the apparent reluctance and reticence to deal with Livingstone and the strange friends he seems to have, a pro-EU Jewish Labour supporter is in real trouble.
Corbyn would, of course, say resolutely that on behalf of turkeys and all other birds, he is strongly against Christmas. Frankly, though, supporting a party that he leads is not possible for me at the moment.
The Lib Dems seem an obvious refuge. They’re solid on the EU and the only mainstream party giving voice to the 48 per cent. They also have a similar platform of policies to Labour on many issues. This makes them attractive to someone with a Labour background like mine looking for a temporary political home.
Thinking of the likes of Baroness Tonge and David Ward I am aware that from the turkeys’ perspective there are prominent elements within the Lib Dems that seem quite keen on Christmas, too. Ward’s recent selection by the local Bradford Lib Dems as their candidate, followed by Tim Farron’s quick and principled decison to sack him shows that the party leadership seem committed to dealing with these matters if they arise.
In this particular election, in these strange political times, although my heart is still Labour, my vote won’t be.
Avi Freeman is a Labour party member and writes here in a personal capacity