The wars of the rosettes: The battle of Barnet

The Battle of Barnet was a decisive engagement in the Wars of the Roses, a dynastic conflict of 15th-century England… On 14 April 1471, near Barnet, then a small Hertfordshire town north of London, Edward led the House of York in a fight against the House of Lancaster, which backed Henry VI for the throne… Historians regard the battle as one of the most important clashes in the Wars of the Roses, since it brought about a decisive turn in the fortunes of the two houses. Edward’s victory was followed by 14 years of Yorkist rule over England.

The latest Battle of Barnet was fought on Thursday, May 3, 2018. The weapons were votes, cast in ballet boxes and counted by hand in the primitive but accurate procedure used in the UK electoral process.

The two sides were not the rival north English dynasties of Lancaster and York, whose respective red and white roses defined the ‘Wars of the Roses”, but rather the dominant national political parties — Labour and Conservative, whose campaigners were distinguished by red and blue rosettes, respectively.

As in 1471, the Reds were soundly defeated — but that’s where the historical analogy stops. The correct analysis of what happened last Thursday is that the Jews rose up and defeated the Labour party in its effort to capture Barnet from the Conservatives, as part of a triumphant sweep across London.

Indeed, even in blood-red Manchester, Lancashire, the local Jews in an electoral ward in Salford delivered another, minor, defeat to the Labour legions. But that was a mere skirmish; Barnet was a major battle which most pundits believed Labour was going to win, the cherry on the victory cake of the London local elections.

Nor is there any doubt, in the minds of the citizenry or in the general, local and Jewish media, as to why the Jews — including thousands of older Jews who have voted Labour and nothing but Labour throughout their adult lives — deliberately inflicted this stinging defeat on the British Labour party.

It was because they had become convinced, reluctantly but irrevocably, that Labour under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn is suffused with anti-Semitism and has become a haven for anti-Semites — and that Corbyn is, at the least, unwilling to do anything about this or, worse, is himself an anti-Semite.

The Battle of Barnet took place in the immediate aftermath of a series of revelations and scandals unprecedented in the history of the British Labour Party. These latter led to a response unprecedented in the annals of Anglo-Jewry: the leadership bodies of British Jewry joined forces (a quasi-messianic event in its own right) and publicly called out Corbyn and Labour (unheard of behaviour for official Jewish bodies). They then announced and led a demonstration in the streets outside parliament in Westminster (unbelievable, hitherto inconceivable).

Nevertheless, to understand the full importance of ‘the Battle of Barnet’ and the events that preceded it, a slightly wider perspective is needed. This does not require revisiting the 15th century or even the 20th, last year will do.

Less than a year ago, on June 8th, 2018, a general election was held in the UK — called by Prime Minister Theresa May because she thought she could and would win a crushing victory and thereby cement her leadership of the fractious Conservative party.

That turned out to be one of the biggest miscalculations in British political history, as May’s Conservatives failed to even hold their small outright majority over all other parties, let alone substantially increase it. With considerable difficulty, May managed to do a deal with a small Irish party that keeps her fratricidal and suicidal — and staggeringly incompetent — party in power.

The flip side of the Tory failure was the strong showing of Labour — and of Corbyn personally. Despite being widely dismissed as unfit for high office, and disliked by most of his fellow Labour MPs, Corbyn pulled off an extraordinary achievement and almost claimed victory.

Indeed, he would have been able to build his own coalition and become prime minister — had it not been for the Jews.

Labour swept London last June, capturing seats that the Tories had held for decades, even centuries. But three constituencies bucked the trend and blocked the Labour surge — three heavily Jewish constituencies in north-west London, in the borough of Barnet.

In an election like that of last June, in which every seat proved crucial and many seats had special characteristics that explained their specific outcomes, what we may now call the First (modern) Battle of Barnet was not understood in those terms. The Jews were then absolutely unwilling to see themselves, or be seen, as a small but critical voting block which had decided the result at the national level.

In the following eleven months, a lot of water, muck and bad blood has flowed down the Thames. By this past weekend, no-one had any doubt that the Jews stopped Labour in London. But, in doing so, they also cast the result of the national election last June in a new light.

To paraphrase Lady Bracknell, in Oscar Wilde’s ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’, “to lose one election (because of the Jews), Mr. Corbyn, may be considered a misfortune; to lose two looks like carelessness”. This weekend, Corbyn and the Hard Left cabal within Labour, whose figurehead he is, are under pressure.

The civil war within Labour — over anti-Semitism, over the entire Hard Left agenda and over the effort by Momentum and other ‘Corbynista’ groups to deselect parliamentary candidates and sitting MPs who are Jewish, centrist-Blairites or otherwise ideologically impure — will intensify, with unpredictable results.

This will give the Tories, and May personally, an opportunity to regroup and to regain the political initiative. Tragically for the UK, there is no indication that they will use it wisely, or at all. The internal feuding in the Conservative party is worse than ever and the issue of Europe seems destined to destroy them.

This leaves the UK ungoverned and increasingly ungovernable. Within this riven and unhappy country, the Jews find themselves suddenly exposed. They are exposed to major threats — religious, communal and even to their physical security. Now, in a shocking new twist, they are exposed as a strategically critical voting block — something their small numbers were supposed to make impossible.

How this small, embattled, suddenly brave, unexpectedly powerful community adapts to this new and largely unwelcome role should be a matter of considerable interest, indeed great concern, to the entire Jewish world.

But it would be as well for Anglo-Jewry, from leaders to laymen, to shed any illusions they might have about support from their co-religionists — both those in the Jewish state and the goldene medina.

American Jews, of all stripes, have zero interest in the dire situation of European Jewry, especially of those Jews in rich, democratic, Western Europe. For most of them, ‘Yurrup’ is a nice place to visit; for the few with an interest in Jews, it is focused almost entirely on dead ones from Eastern Europe.

As for Israel, the government, the media and the general population are united in having no interest in or concern about Western European Jewry. The big news this weekend — drowning out the noise from the Gaza Strip — was the Giro d’Italia cycle race, being held in Israel for the first time and instantly becoming the biggest sporting event in Israeli history.

So to the Jews of Hale, West Hendon, Childs Hill, Chipping Barnet and the other wards where the red rosettes of Corbyn’s minions went down to defeat: well done! You did it, on your own. Get used to that, and good luck with it. God bless you — and God help you.

About the Author
Pinchas Landau is an economic and financial analyst, serving as a consultant to major financial institutions in Israel and abroad on domestic and global developments.
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