Cast out the antisemites at the ballot box

Crossbench peer John Mann (Jewish News)
Crossbench peer John Mann (Jewish News)

The Jewish community is spread across nearly every single parliamentary constituency in the UK. Since its readmission to this country some 360 years ago, the community has built a strong and proud record of engagement with public and civic life. British Jews are simply citizens, rightly and properly active in our participatory democracy.

However, Jews are disproportionately targeted in turbulent political times, and against the current backdrop in Britain, antisemitism is rising. Jews feature in the conspiracies and lies drawn on by populists as part of their us versus them talk.  To that end, the Jewish community has a responsibility, as we all do, to shun, to protest and to cast out antisemites.

The best way to do that is at the ballot box. You must ensure you are registered to vote.

Antisemitism has, regrettably, been a feature of political debate and discussion over the last parliamentary term. There have been numerous shocking revelations of public figures positing or parroting age-old racist, anti-Jewish tropes.

Racists should not have a free pass in Britain. Those standing for office, whatever their political party, whether they be an existing Member of Parliament or a new candidate, must be held to account for their views, words, and actions. Critically, there must be consequences for antisemites.

The next General Election will take place on 12 December 2019. Despite Britain being the best country in the world, our weather can sometimes be patchy. If you are voting after work, it may be cold and dark. There might be snow inhibiting elderly readers or relatives from getting out. There could be rain deterring you from venturing outdoors. Perhaps you have an early holiday planned. For all these reasons and numerous others, you may want to consider a proxy or a postal vote.

Are you a student or do you have a son, daughter or another young relative in higher education? If so, they have the potential to vote at home or, sometimes more importantly, away. They should make the decision about where their vote is likely to have the most impact. Will there be consequences for someone who has espoused antisemitic bile if they vote in their university constituency?

If you want to direct your candidates to some educational material, the Antisemitism Policy Trust has an educational resource at www.antisemitism.org.uk/election19. Voter registration can take place through the government website https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote.. You must be registered to vote by 26 November.

Encourage your friends, neighbours, colleagues and anyone else to register.

Whatever your party, however you vote, make antisemites pay the price for their decision to seek public office. Participation is crucial, together we can ensure anti-Jewish racists, and their cheerleaders, know there are consequences for being an antisemite.

About the Author
John Mann is an independent Advisor to UK Government on antisemitism, and a former Labour MP for Bassetlaw, who now sits in the House of Lords as a crossbench peer.
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