Progressively Speaking: Who’s leaving Britain if Corbyn becomes prime minister?

Progressively Speaking: Who’s leaving Britain if Corbyn becomes prime minister?

Rabbi Mark Goldsmith takes a topical issue and offers a Reform Jewish angle. This week, he looks at claims members of the community might emigrate if Labour get into power

Rabbi Mark Goldsmith

 What happens in our national politics always affects Jewish life, whichever party is in power. Judaism is a religion of values, concern and care for our fellow citizens, our cities, our nation, our people and the world.

When a Jew considers who to vote for in the 12 December election, it is legitimate and necessary to consider which party will work constructively with the state of Israel, protect the environment, ensure there are equal opportunity and economic policies, condemn racism in all its forms and enact policies that care for the stranger and the disadvantaged, while also helping the country to be prosperous so that all can thrive.

It may be that a Conservative government will act in such a way that will make many feel uncomfortable with the direction the UK is taking, that a Liberal Democrat government will radically change the direction of travel away from Europe and that a Labour government would follow an economic course that does not meet the interests of many.  There is a strong democratic choice to make at the ballot box.

The country knows little about Jo Swinson, but is now very familiar with the style and personality of Boris Johnson and can have little doubt about the radicalism of Jeremy Corbyn.

Would many Jews leave the UK if any of them is our prime minister after 12 December? While there is no stated existential threat to the Jewish community, we know many in our community do have a fear about a Corbyn-led Labour government. There is a valid upset about the lackadaisical way in which antisemitism is being dealt with in the party. Recent polling suggests 47 percent of British Jews would seriously consider leaving the UK in the event of a Labour victory.

However much we may personally disagree with this course of action, we must not ignore this strength of feeling.

Of course, Jews must always protect the ability to live fully as a Jew in this country, our ability to choose the education we seek for our children, to remain in constructive relationship with Israel, to practice our religion and build our communities in safety.

But we must also vote for those values we share with the whole of the country for its good in the future. We are not ready to give up on the UK.

  •  Rabbi Mark Goldsmith serves Edgware and Hendon Reform Synagogue
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