The Jewish Chronicle

The hard left must be beaten

- Lord Austin is Chair of Mainstream, the campaign against extremism and the UK Trade Envoy to Israel BY IAN AUSTIN

I WANT to be fair to Keir Starmer. He’s clearly a huge improvemen­t on Jeremy Corbyn and no one could say he is an extremist or an antisemite.

His poll ratings are higher than his party’s, even though the pandemic prevents him introducin­g himself to the country. He took the Labour whip off Corbyn and is taking action against antisemite­s. But the pace is too slow, there is much more to do and, as the JC’s poll shows, it is far too early to give Labour a clean bill of health.

Even after the EHRC proved the Labour Party broke the law in its treatment of Jewish people, seven out of 10 members still think there is no antisemiti­sm in the party or that it has been exaggerate­d.

Corbyn’s toxic leadership saw people on the extreme fringes welcomed into Labour. Worse, well-meaning but naïve young people who would usually have campaigned on mainstream concerns such as food banks or homelessne­ss and defended people from racism were taught to dismiss antisemiti­sm as a Jewish plot.

Half the members think that the Middle East’s only democracy is an apartheid state and 60 per cent support targeting the world’s only Jewish homeland with boycotts. Expelling people responsibl­e for overt antiJewish racism is one thing, but what will the new Labour leadership do to ensure members take a reasonable approach to Israel?

The party needs to work with the Jewish Labour Movement and Labour Friends of Israel to educate members about anti-Jewish racism and teach them the truth about Israel and its relationsh­ip with the UK.

It obviously needs to speed up the disciplina­ry processes and expel the hard left who poisoned the party, starting with Corbyn and John McDonnell. The hard-left was tolerated as an irrelevant and harmless fringe under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, but Labour clearly can’t revert to its traditiona­l complacenc­y. Anything less and the public will wonder whether they could seize control again.

All of this is not just the right thing to do, but necessary if Labour is to have any chance of winning elections again. Brexit and Corbyn were the biggest factors at the last election but lots of lifelong Labour voters also refused to vote for a party that had been poisoned by anti-Jewish racism.

Is it possible to sort this problem out? It will take a long time and real determinat­ion, but let’s hope so.

Britain needs a choice between decent political parties, both capable of running the country; lifelong Labour voters who turned away in disgust need a political home; and, most of all, Britain’s Jewish community have the right to choose who to vote for on the basis of issues other than antisemiti­sm.

 ??  ?? Keir Starmer
Keir Starmer

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Kingdom