Voice of the JN: Many will see hope today where yesterday there was none
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Labour splitJewish News editorial

Voice of the JN: Many will see hope today where yesterday there was none

This week's Jewish News editorial on the Liverpool Wavertree MP's decision to lead the Labour Party exodus

Luciana Berger during a press conference  where she announced her resignation along with a group of six other Labour MPs. Photo credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
Luciana Berger during a press conference where she announced her resignation along with a group of six other Labour MPs. Photo credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

SAS veterans will tell you that everyone has their breaking point. The eight resigning Labour MPs – citing little or no progress on antisemitism – can attest. Such has been the tortuous road to this split, the most dramatic in UK politics in a generation.

The idea that antisemitism was a key factor is galling. It will cheer not a single Jewish News reader. It fills us with dread that eight decent, dedicated MPs have left the party to whose mast they nailed their colours because it wasn’t tackling hatred.

Few have stuck it out longer than Luciana Berger, who despite facing more than two years of appalling antisemitism, hasn’t spoken to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn since 2017. Not when an internet troll was jailed for targeting her. Not even when she was accompanied by police protection officers at the party’s annual conference. Corbyn’s cruel indifference beggars belief.

We can’t praise her enough for the bravery and fortitude she has shown throughout this awful episode, or indeed that of Joan Ryan who has paid such a heavy price for standing with the community and Israel.

Many in the community – and country – will see hope today when they couldn’t just one week ago. And that is down to this still small group.

No one should doubt the scale of the decision of the ex-Labour MPs to abandon a party they have given so much to, but it is hard to imagine others won’t soon reach the same conclusion. Such is the collective mood within Labour these days that even deputy leader Tom Watson this week sounded like he could also be on the verge of abandoning ship.

It’s clear that the brave move by Berger and her new colleagues in the Independent Group has emboldened others to realise there may be an alternative.

This week’s Jewish News front page.

And what next for British Jews? The small number who blindly support the socialist agenda will stick with Corbyn, who in their eyes can and will do no wrong. Others will stick to the Conservatives, despite their own failings and struggles.

And the many progressive, centrist Jews who have not felt at home with Labour since the coming of Corbyn will continue to wander Westminster, eyeing this new Independent bloc with curiosity, waiting to hear the policies. Early polling suggests the new group could have a seismic impact if it became a party.

Depending on the mood of the nation – and who emerges as the leader of the new independent group – Luciana Berger will either become one of the most influential voices in British politics in the next two years or the grouping that dramatically burst on to the scenes this week will fade.

Politically, it’s a huge gamble. But few things ever feel like a gamble when they also feel like an action of last resort.

Because no one holds out forever.

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