The Lib Dems are an ob­vi­ous refuge for peo­ple like me

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - AVI FREE­MAN

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

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