OPINION: ‘Why we can’t afford to ‘boycott’ Labour’

OPINION: ‘Why we can’t afford to ‘boycott’ Labour’

Simon Johnson, Chief Executive of the JLC
Simon Johnson, Chief Executive of the JLC

By Simon Johnson Chief Executive, JLC 

Simon Johnson set out his goals in a wide-ranging interview with the Jewish News.
Simon Johnson .

Over the past six months we have witnessed an astonishing political transformation – perhaps the most extreme in my lifetime.

A maverick, left-wing rebel MP, who has never held an office or a shadow cabinet position, has been swept along on a sea of activism to the position of Leader of the Opposition.


The policies that Jeremy Corbyn has supported have been those from the far-left, socialist tradition.

This tradition has tended to be not just pro-Palestinian but also anti-Israel, critical of Zionism and supportive of boycotts and delegitimisation.

The language used has often been inflammatory. As many within that tradition sympathise with anti-Zionist movements, he crossed paths with Holocaust deniers and those who sympathise with terrorist groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah.

Now Corbyn is the leader of the Labour Party, we all fear that his beliefs, which were confined to the fringes of politics, could become a legitimate part of the mainstream.

As a community, we must be vigilant. We must be aware of the potential threats to the Labour Party’s policies on faith schools, faith appropriate social care, anti-Semitism, the fight against extremism and policies relating to Jewish identity and practice.

There are those who have argued that we should not engage with a Labour Party led by Corbyn. My view is exactly the contrary.

We have an obligation to do so. The links between the Jewish community and the Labour movement are long standing and the Labour Party has traditionally been a movement where Jews have found a welcome home.

It is important that this should continue. The community cannot afford for the political consensus that has supported Jewish life, culture, belief and identity to be broken.

We cannot afford for a mainstream political party not to be capable of being supported by the Jewish community.

That is why we will maintain and build relations with Corbyn’s Labour Party and work to promote a genuine electoral choice for the Jewish community.

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