Britain’s Jewish community has been sucked into a debate about whether or not it is time to engage with Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party. Maybe it has been a mistake to stake so much political and financial capital on the Tories, but one suspects that however much effort is expended on Corbyn’s socialist leadership, it will not make any difference at all to their unacceptable views on Hamas, Hezbollah, the IRA, Venezuela, or any other radical causes that come to mind. These are hard-boiled views on the far left, which will not be evicted by any amount of schmoozing.
Where the community should be focusing its views is on social media. It was clever use by the left of social media that delivered the far better than expected general election outcome for Corbyn and his pals and stunned Theresa May and the Tories.
There were several strands to Labour’s strategy. It recruited popular music artists to its cause, such as Stormzy and JME, with huge reach into younger people, and able to reach first-time voters who have never before been to the polls. It had on its side far-left websites and movements such as Skwawkbox and Momentum intent on stirring up passions.
Indeed, in the aftermath of the horror at the Grenfell Tower in West London, it was the far left blog Skwawkbox that was responsible for stirring up the myth that somehow the local council and the government were engaged in a subversive plot to keep the public ignorant of the number of people who perished. There are many justified criticisms that can be made of the authorities’ handling of the disaster, but
a ‘cover-up’ is not one of them. Establishing the exact number of people unaccounted and their identities has been an administrative nightmare and a task that should never be hurried in case mistakes about life and death are made.
Back to the election for a moment. One of my sons works as a video/film editor for a well-known media group. In the run-up to the election, he soon discovered that most of his colleagues had become ardent Corbyn supporters. They had been convinced by a ‘false news’ social media posting that the Tory manifesto was committed to privatisation of the NHS. Totally untrue in that the manifesto actually promised a spending increase in real terms for the NHS. No one among his colleagues, most of whom are under 35, seemed the least bit interested in Corbyn’s warped views on the Middle East and anti-Semitism.
The truth is that old media titles, such as The Daily Mail, The Sun, The Times and The Telegraph were simply preaching to the converted when they exposed the unsavoury friends of Corbyn and his followers and their distorted world view. Similarly, arguments about the way in which the Labour money tree would bring ruination on entrepreneurship and enterprise made very little impact.
Instead, the social media posts co-ordinated by Labour groups, such as Momentum, focused on all the goodies Labour was promising, for example, abolition or reduction of tuition fees, and the bad stuff in the Tory offering, such as the so called ‘dementia tax’. It was a strategy that rescued Labour from demolition and allowed Corbyn to play the Bernie Sanders card of wise uncle who has had enough of the existing order.
So where does this leave the Jewish community? Far more effective than reaching out to Corbyn and his henchmen would be for our community to join the social media war pointing out the shortcomings of the Labour leadership and its fellow travellers. In that way they could potentially be kept in check.
The old ways of wining and dining the enemy to keep them sweet are simply no longer good enough.