A crumb of comfort – DUP supports Israel

ELECTION results are the crude outcomes of complex interactions. Because one party’s support has increased while another’s has fallen doesn’t mean that there’s been a simple “flow of the vote” from the first party to the second.

Bear this is mind as we consider whether the outcome of the June 8 election is good for us Jews.

On the face of it, the answer might seem to be a resounding yes. After all, the Labour Party led by Jeremy Corbyn lost the election, didn’t it?

True, after what was without doubt a professional campaign — a genuine personal triumph for Corbyn — the Labour vote increased by almost 10 per cent compared with 2015.

True, also, that some Jewish Labour candidates did extraordinarily well.

In Hendon, Mike Katz came within 1,072 votes of snatching the seat from Tory Matthew Offord, while in neighbouring Finchley the kippa-wearing Jeremy Newmark pushed Labour to within 1,657 votes of victory over Tory Mike Freer.

In Bury South, Ivan Lewis scored a remarkable success, increasing Labour’s vote by almost 6,000 and its share of the vote by more than eight per cent.

Luciana Berger retained Liverpool Wavertree with a majority of almost 30,000. Ruth Smeeth easily held on to her Stoke-on-Trent seat, polling over 50 per cent of the votes.

In Leeds North-East, Fabian Hamilton had a comfortable victory over his Conservative rival. Daniel Zeichner retained Cambridge, increasing his vote from 599 (in 2015) to over 12,000.

In Liverpool Riverside, Mrs Louise Ellman (now the longest-serving Jewish MP) scooped up all but 15.5 per cent of the total votes cast.

Margaret Hodge had no difficulty at all in retaining her seat at Barking. And we should not forget that in Doncaster Ed Miliband pushed Labour’s majority to more than 14,000.

And that Leeds North-West returned Britain’s newest Jewish MP, Alex Sobel, who took the seat from the Lib-Dems, increasing Labour’s share of the vote by 14 per cent.

Indeed the only Jewish Labour disappointment was that veteran David Winnick (formerly the “father” of the House of Commons), lost Walsall North to the Tories.

But there was nothing remotely sinister (from a Jewish point of view) about Winnick’s defeat. There was no “Jewish” factor at work here, just as there was no “Jewish” factor at work at any of the Labour victories I’ve listed.

And even in relation to Jewish Labour’s remarkable near- misses at Finchley and Hendon, I’ve yet to be convinced that the votes piled up by either Jeremy Newmark or Mike Katz were in any sense “Jewish votes for Jewish candidates” (it is, however, just possible that Jewish votes saved their Tory opponents, Matthew Offord and Mike Freer; there’s work to be done in confirming whether this was, in fact, the case, but purely anecdotal evidence in Hendon, where I live, suggests that it might well have been).

n The fact remains that Comrade Corbyn (by his own admission) took the trouble to attend a wreath-laying ceremony (in October, 2014) at the Tunisian grave of a Palestinian terrorist involved in the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre.

n The fact remains that Comrade Corbyn has called for the EU to suspend its trade agreement with Israel in order to pressure the Jewish state over the so-called peace process.

n The fact remains that Comrade Corbyn proudly fought the June 8 election on the basis of a Labour manifesto promise that a Labour government would “immediately” recognise “the state of Palestine.”

n The fact remains that many of Comrade Corbyn’s media cheerleaders hurled antisemitic abuse at Jewish radio presenter Emma Barnett after her meticulous and legitimate questioning of him over childcare costs (May 30) left him literally speechless.

n The fact remains that, nationally on June 8, millions of voters flocked to the colours of Comrade Corbyn, the man who was a proud supporter of the IRA and an unashamed “friend” of Hamas.

n The fact remains that were it not for the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland, whose 10 Westminster MPs (an increase of two compared with 2015) will give limited support to Theresa May’s minority Conservative government, Comrade Corbyn might now be prime minister.

Not much is known about the DUP this side of the Celtic Sea. Its mercifully short 2017 election manifesto said nothing about the Middle East.

But I can tell you that the DUP is a thoroughly philosemitic Christian Zionist party whose steadfast, vocal support for Israel has been demonstrated countless times.

That’s the one crumb of comfort I can offer after the events of June 8.


© 2017 Jewish Telegraph