The British general election produced a mixed night for those who trade on anti-Israel rhetoric. George Galloways’s political career seems to have been finally ended when the Respect Part MP lost his fight with Labour’s Jim Fitzpatrick. Respect’s other two parliamentary candidates also failed to make it to Parliament.
Gerald Kaufman (Labour), who said that right-wing millionaire Jews controlled the Conservative Party, was convincingly re-elected while Martin Linton (Labour), who has spoken of Israel’s “long tentacles” which fund the British electoral system, lost his seat to the Conservatives.
The fascist BNP failed to get an MP elected but the Green Party succeeded in getting its first ever MP when its leader, Caroline Lucas, won in Brighton. The Green Party supports the campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel.
One of the closest contests was in London in the district of Hampstead and Kilburn where Oscar-winning actress Glenda Jackson, another fierce critic of Israel, won by just 42 votes, out of the 52,822 cast there.
The Muslim Public Affairs Committee seems to have failed in its “Zionist” decapitation strategy as many Israel-friendly politicians succeeded. Lee Scott (Conservative) and Louise Ellman (Labour) were re-elected and Luciana Berger (Labour) and Robert Halfon (Conservative) became MPs for the first time.
Andrew Dismore (Labour), a strong Israel supporter who was targeted by MPAC, lost his seat to Matthew Offord (Conservative). MPAC called this a “success” although, ironically, Offord himself can be considered a “Zionist” and will probably be similarly targeted by MPAC next time.
Richard Harringon, Chairman of the Conservative Friends of Israel, got elected in Watford.
But the biggest winners may be the anti-Israel Liberal Democrats whose leader, Nick Clegg, called for the banning of the sale of arms to Israel during Cast Lead.
Incredibly, the Lib Dems. were expected to substantially increase their intake of MPs after the first two televised leaders’ debates but Clegg faltered in the third and final debate. The public may not have liked his policies on giving an amnesty to some one million illegal immigrants and on taking Britain into the Euro, especially with the death and destruction in Athens, which is in the Euro, being broadcast on our screens leading up to the election.
None of the three main parties ended up with an overall majority of over 326 seats. The Conservatives now have 306 (up 97), Labour has 258 (down 91) and the Lib Dems. have 57 (down five).
The Lib Dems. are keen to do a deal to give them power for the first time in some 80 years and have given the Conservatives, as the largest party, the first opportunity to consider this possibility. The Conservatives in turn said they would be willing to work with the Lib Dems. to try to implement much of the Conservative manifesto. This will involve easy concessions on tax but the Lib Dems. will also demand major reform of the electoral system, possibly proportional representation, which is something the Conservatives will not concede.
In the meantime Gordon Brown is waiting in the wings, clinging on as Prime Minister, hoping that the Conservatives and the Lib Dems. will fail to agree so that the Lib Dems. will then come knocking on his door, where proportional representation is more of a possibility.
The financial markets have been crashing leading up to, and since, the election. The stock market is heavily down, as is the pound against the dollar. The politicians will need to resolve their differences quickly in order to restore the semblance of stability.
More critically for Israel is the possible concession of some Lib Dems. now taking up cabinet positions which could impact negatively on British-Israeli relations. David Cameron himself has described east Jerusalem as “occupied” and Labour has been generally unsupportive of Israel on the Dubai assassination of Hamas terrorist al-Mabhouh and on the Goldstone Report.
The areas of London with major numbers of Jewish voters, including the four voting districts of Finchley and Golders Green, Hendon, Chipping Barnet and Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner all returned Conservative MPs. Many British Jews might well have voted this way out of concern for the policies of Labour and the Lib Dems. on Israel, while the Conservatives are seen as generally more sympathetic to Israel’s situation.
The Conservatives will clamp down more firmly on Islamic radicalism and will seek to ban Hizb ut Tahrir, but what Jewish voters did not reckon on is that by voting Conservative they could get the Lib Dems. as part of the package.
There is the need for political stability in Britain as quickly as possible to tackle the huge budget deficit. But as the parties hammer out agreement in private most British Jews hope it will not be at the expense of Israel.
This article appeared in the Jerusalem Post on 10th May