Why Stella Creasy was dis­ap­point­ing at Lim­mud, plus my new year Labour wish

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS -

LIS­TEN­ING TO Stella Creasy at the Lim­mud Fes­ti­val was an odd ex­pe­ri­ence.

It was, in part, enor­mously up­lift­ing. The Labour MP for Waltham­stow reeled off catchy phrases about peo­ple be­ing a “change-maker” in their com­mu­nity and spoke of a “politics of hope” as if she were au­di­tion­ing to play pre-pres­i­dency Barack Obama.

Re­peat­edly she railed against the “fudge” tak­ing over our politics and urged greater col­lab­o­ra­tion. She is hot on so­cial me­dia, tak­ing down Twit­ter trolls ev­ery­where in the face of re­pul­sive abuse. She is a lead­ing cam­paigner on the refugee cri­sis and women’s rights.

A bit heavy on well-re­hearsed sound­bites, yes, but Ms Creasy is pretty much ev­ery­thing you could ask for in a pro­gres­sive, mod­er­ate, mod­ern politi­cian.

But her stump speech and sub­se­quent ques­tion-and-an­swer ses­sion were also hugely dis­ap­point­ing. Why? Be­cause Ms Creasy high­lighted why she is es­sen­tially pow­er­less to change any­thing in her party.

The ses­sion fell apart — on the Jewish is­sues at least — af­ter a ques­tion from Adam Wag­ner, the hu­man rights bar­ris­ter, who en­quired about the pos­si­bil­ity of re­build­ing Labour’s re­la­tion­ship with our com­mu­nity. Ms Creasy had al­ready out­lined her con­cerns about the prob­lem, telling the packed crowd she wanted to “erad­i­cate” an­tisemitism and adding: “There isn’t just an ele­phant in the room, there’s a zoo”.

But her re­sponse to Mr Wag­ner was ex­actly the sort of fudge she had ve­he­mently crit­i­cised early. A half-baked pledge to raise the com­mu­nity’s con­cerns at a meet­ing of the Par­lia­men­tary Labour Party was lucky to avoid be­ing met by laugh­ter. Mr Cor­byn will not sud­denly start lis­ten­ing to his PLP col­leagues and aban­don his stance of the past two years or more.

Her an­swer ap­peared to switch off swathes of the au­di­ence, un­do­ing much of her ear­lier good work. Some peo­ple sim­ply got up and drifted away.

Un­der a dif­fer­ent lead­er­ship, Ms Creasy would be fly­ing up the ranks, pre­par­ing for a life in gov­ern­ment and a ca­reer at var­i­ous key min­istries.

In­stead, she is ham­strung by Mr Cor­byn’s poor lead­er­ship on a se­ries of vi­tal is­sues. She is do­ing her best to make things work, bat­tling from within while oth­ers, such as for­mer col­leagues Tris­tram Hunt, Michael Dugher and Jamie Reed, have gone off to pur­sue their in­ter­ests to greater ef­fect else­where.

Stella Creasy would not want my sym­pa­thy, but I feel for her and many oth­ers who now sit along­side her on Labour’s tal­ented back­benches. Their time may come again, but there is lit­tle sign of it on the hori­zon. Which brings me to one of my lead­ing political de­sires for 2018. This will, hope­fully, be the year when a cred­i­ble Labour fig­ure emerges as the in­di­vid­ual to re­pair the party’s re­la­tion­ship with Bri­tish Jews.

It is a tough task, though. The in­di­vid­ual would need to be trusted by both the com­mu­nity and by Mr Cor­byn’s in­ner cir­cle. This will re­quire a cred­i­ble record on Jewish is­sues while hold­ing a sim­i­lar ide­ol­ogy to the leader. Few fig­ures fit the bill. I do not, of course, sug­gest a “Min­is­ter for Jews”-style role, but in­stead an in­for­mal mid­dle­man or woman who can pick up the shat­tered pieces, speak to both sides in good faith and try to re­solve out­stand­ing is­sues.

Think you know of some­one up to the job? Send me your sug­ges­tions — mdysch@thejc.com.

There was much fo­cus late last year on the Mus­lim En­gage­ment and De­vel­op­ment (Mend) group and Azad Ali, its con­tro­ver­sial na­tional com­mu­nity head, fol­low­ing a par­lia­men­tary event held by the or­gan­i­sa­tion.

As of this week, Mr Ali has a new role as com­mu­nity re­la­tions di­rec­tor at Cage UK, which you might re­mem­ber from al­most three years ago when Asim Qureshi, its re­search di­rec­tor, de­scribed Ji­hadi John as “a beau­ti­ful young man”.

In­deed, Mr Qureshi led the wel­com­ing com­mit­tee for his new col­league, de­scrib­ing Mr Ali as “a close ally… bring­ing his prin­ci­pled stances” to Cage.

As one ob­server sug­gested to me this week, ei­ther Mend has en­cour­aged Mr Ali’s de­par­ture sooner than ex­pected in or­der to hasten a detox­i­fy­ing of their brand, or, more wor­ry­ingly, the two or­gan­i­sa­tions are bet­ter aligned than pre­vi­ously thought.

Ex­pect to hear a lot more from both groups in 2018.

An­tisemitism: there isn’t just an ele­phant in the room — there’s a zoo’

PHOTO: PAR­LIA­MENT

Stella Creasy

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.