For those who have been too busy following the ongoing impeachment proceedings in the US – or for those who have understandably been ceaselessly pointing at the news channel and shrieking ever since 2016 – the U.K. is due to hold an election next month.
This is a chore for all British citizens, as the last few public votes have driven the country into an increasingly factious and belligerent political no man’s land and another vote won’t make that situation any better. It’s particularly bad news if you’re unlucky enough to be Jeremy Corbyn, the far left Labour Party Leader who is often cited as the Man Who Would Be Prime Minister, but seems more like the Man Who Should Be A Substitute Geography Teacher.
Corbyn genuinely seems to be a nice guy, and he is, refreshingly, a real socialist in the Bernie Sanders mold. He’s just also incompetent, charmless, ineffectual and (at the time of writing) rumoured to be trailing in the polls by nineteen points against one of the most hated incumbent governments in living memory.
It was with a weary inevitability, then, that the leader of Britain’s Jewish community weighed in this morning to say (or at least heavily imply) that Corbyn was a bad move for Britain’s Jews and that anyone who did vote for him was edging dangerously close to outright anti-Semitism. It’s one more blow to Corbyn’s already wafer thin electoral chances.
Much of the blame, as ever, can be placed on Corbyn himself. When he rose to power five years ago, he brought with him a few hangers on from the lunatic fringe who were fans of the theory that Jewish bankers run the world.
They do, but the key word in that sentence is “bankers,” not “Jewish.” Part of the eternal black comedy of Judaism is that if you wait long enough, people will find a way for something to be your fault. Jews were forced into money lending in the middle ages due to religious rules around usury, and hundreds of years later, when bankers have names like Goldman and Rothschild, the hard-of-thinking see this as proof that theology and not economics is the driving force behind the world’s ills.
The belief that Jews control the world is yet another sign of the paucity of modern education, but when such accusations began to spring up in the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn and his inner circle largely ignored them. It’s easy to see why – they’re ridiculous ideas and don’t deserve to be taken seriously – but this simply allowed the ideas to spread, and when Jewish Labour members complained, they were accused by the die-hard Corbynites of being traitors.
Accusing Jews of betraying a messianic figure with a beard probably only inflamed the situation, and the relationship between British Jews and the Labour Party has become strained at best and downright adversarial at worst.
This morning, Ephraim Mirvis, Britain’s Chief Rabbi – whose job makes it sound like he should spend his time pounding his desk and castigating loose canon, maverick Rabbi detectives, a show I’d absolutely watch – has come out against Corbyn, citing his concerns that the Labour Party didn’t do enough to deal with anti-Semitism in its ranks.
Which is true. The Labour Party badly fumbled the ball on the anti-Semitism issue, just like it has badly fumbled basically everything for the last five years. Corbyn, to re-iterate, is an aging, charmless incompetent with a troublingly Stalinist approach to what-he-calls leadership. He’s almost certainly not personally a bigot, but he isn’t intelligent enough or imaginative enough to see how bigotry could still be a problem within his own party, and as such has unwittingly allowed Zionist conspiracy theories to go unchecked.
Of course, Rabbi Mirvis should advise his followers as he sees fit, but I can’t help but worry that he has done himself no favours with his condemnation of the Labour Party. Any dunderheaded Labour supporter who already believed that nefarious Jews were plotting to stop Corbyn will see the Rabbi’s statement as more evidence of this imagined conspiracy. Perhaps Rabbi Mirvis was thinking two moves ahead and was waiting to see if he would cause exactly such a backlash within Labour and thereby prove his point, but that would be the exact kind of fruitless, tit-for-tat exchange that has dogged the whole conversation.
Putting to one side for a moment the Rabbi’s message, it’s worth noting some of the other people who have come forward to speak about the upcoming election.
Teachers are backing Labour because they have been pushed to breaking point by nine years of Conservative rule and the assosciated cuts to the education budget.
Even crazed anarchist, confirmed non-voter and cult comic book author Alan Moore has broken his silence to opine that people should vote Labour because of the disastrous effect another Conservative government would have.
Make no mistake, another Tory government would be a calamity for everyone, regardless of faith or ethnicity. Jews would die froom a lack of hospital beds just the same as their gentile neighbours. Jewish kids would have a worse education under the Conservatives, sat in underfunded schools with Christian and Muslim and Hindu and Atheist kids. The Conservative Party would force a hard Brexit that would embolden racists of all stripes to strike not just at Jews, but at all minorities.
For all of my criticism of Corbyn, I still intend to vote for him. Because the alternative is so much worse. And if Corbyn were to get elected, I hope that the Jewish community and everyone else hold his feet to the fire on his failure to tackle anti-Jewish prejudice and a number of issues besides.
Corbyn might personally be a terrible Prime Minister, but the Socialist ideas he represents are good ones. The unlikelihood of his ever being able to enact them, whatever the reason, is a tragedy for all the people of the UK.
Update: Just before publishing this article, Jeremy Corbyn was interviewed and refused several times to apologise to Britain’s Jewish community, because he’s an idiot. I’m still voting for him as the least worst candidate, because America already showed what happens when the worst worst candidate gets elected.