The election results in Barnet were remarkable. From a position where the Conservatives had a majority of just one over the Labour opposition – amid predictions we would lose control of the council – we finished with a good majority of 13.
Victory was entirely due to the Corbyn factor. The number of Jewish residents who took part and voted Conservative was unprecedented. Thanks to the orthodox Shirehall estate we even succeeded in capturing West Hendon – a ward previously regarded as unwinnable.
A Labour victory in Barnet – the borough with the largest Jewish population – would have been a massive boost for Jeremy Corbyn. His supporters would have hailed this as an endorsement of his policies and a vindication of his indifferent response to what they mischievously dub the anti-Semitism “smear campaign”.
Barnet’s Jewish voters were made acutely aware of this scenario by candidates, campaigners and community leaders. They responded en masse.
Elsewhere in London, and other regions where elections were held, it was a matter of swings and roundabouts. Neither party could claim victory overall. Which meant failure for Labour, and its ambitions to turn swathes of Britain’s local government red. Even mid – term, where the government has been beset by banana skins and a deplorable lack of unity over Brexit, the opposition made minimal impact on the status quo.
There are now indications of rumblings within Labour for a reassessment of Corbyn’s leadership. For there are numerous moderate Labour Party members, including MPs, who detest Corbyn and his Marxist ideology. They have been browbeaten into silence by Momentum. Now is their chance to begin the campaign to oust him.
There was a widespread feeling when Corbyn became Labour leader that he was an asset to the Conservatives. There were even Conservative supporters who tactically joined Labour in order to help get Corbyn in, reasoning that with him at the helm, Labour would be unelectable to government.
Last year’s general election result – a near-miss to say the least – dispelled this notion. There is a lingering danger that a Corbyn-led Labour Party could still one day scrape in, perhaps in coalition with the SNP, if things became really bad for the Conservatives.
Even if a Corbyn-led government were unelectable, from our Jewish perspective he must go. A major political party having a leader with his track record is a totally undesirable situation.
It is highly damaging for the profile, morale and indeed security, of our community.
Campaigns highlighting anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, including protests outside parliament and the Labour Party HQ, have been constructive and successful thus far. They have achieved huge publicity in the media and cast Corbyn in a highly negative light.
But they may now have reached the point of potential backfire. The public could be getting tired of hearing Jews whinge about anti-Semitism. They might just feel that if so many people dislike Jews, maybe there’s some justification for it. The rhetoric against Corbyn should be broadened. We should be reiterating that – beyond the anti-Semitism concerns – he appears anti-British.
For years he refused to condemn the IRA, who murdered hundreds of British citizens.
He has befriended Hamas, Hezbollah and other violent groups. He is no friend of the Royal family. He favours unilateral disarmament that would render this country defenceless against external enemies.
He is a communist in all but name, whose economic and social policies would signal the end of freedom and democracy. He and his supporters are diametrically opposed to all that is decent, tolerant and peaceful in Britain.
That is the message the British public needs to hear.