I said I would vote Labour to stop the Tories, but Corbyn’s refusal to apologise changed my mind – The Independent

Posted By on November 30, 2019

Dear Anthony Julius,I appreciate your taking the time to write an open letter to me in the New Statesman and I remain as proud as ever of what we achieved when we successfully defeated the attempt, 20 years ago now, of a Holocaust denier to silence his critics by means of a libel suit.

You are quite right to say that antisemitism, even Holocaust denial itself, has infected the Labour Party. I dont think its central to the partys world-view, and there are many people who have stayed in the party and are determined to fight it think of Margaret Hodge, for instance. It entered the party following the election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader and spread encouraged by social media and the influx of thousands of new members, who had previously been outside it on the far left.

I thought initially Id hold my nose and vote Labour in this election because Brexit is a looming disaster of catastrophic proportions, and tactical voting may be the only way to stop it. The advice of tactical voting websites for my constituency of North-East Hertfordshire is to vote Labour, since the Liberal Democrats dont stand a chance here, so I followed it.

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But would that make any real difference? The sitting Tory MP for the constituency, Sir Oliver Heald, has a reasonably good record in voting against Brexit and seems a decent enough MP. But that, sadly, is not the point here: a vote for him would be a vote for Boris Johnsons Brexit (deal or no deal), since presumably Sir Oliver has been obliged to sign up to support it as a condition of being a candidate.

I wrote to Kelley Green, the Labour candidate, whos new to parliamentary politics, asking for her views on the controversy over antisemitism within her party, but unfortunately I havent received a reply. In the meantime, however, Ive received hundreds of tweets and emails saying (with varying degrees of politeness) that I should reconsider.

That together with the Chief Rabbis intervention backed by the Archbishop of Canterbury and above all Jeremy Corbyns lamentable refusal to apologise for the offence he has caused when asked by Andrew Neill no fewer than four times on television, and his continuing denial that his party has a problem, have indeed made me think again.

The opinion polls have so far stubbornly refused to move away from predictions of a Tory majority, and the prospects of overthrowing it in my constituency are remote were a pretty safe Conservative seat and anything but a marginal. So in the end, a vote for Labour wouldnt make any difference locally. My vote, therefore, will inevitably be wasted in practical terms, so all I can do is use it to make a statement on the issues at stake.

I cant in this situation vote for the Liberal Democrats, because of the responsibility they shared for damaging austerity policies with David Cameron from 2010 to 2016 not to mention their betrayal of students over the issue of student loans.

That leaves the Greens, who are not only anti-Brexit but also take the greatest threat facing the planet in the medium to long term the climate crisis far more seriously than the other parties. So Ill vote for them.

As for Labour, my hope has always been that after the party suffers yet another defeat under Jeremy Corbyn, he will at last be forced to resign and will be replaced by a competent and popular leader who is determined to keep Britain in the EU, recognise how far vile and abusive antisemitism has infected large parts of his (or her) party, and actually do something about it. The damage Corbyn has done to the party is immense, and will take a great deal of hard work and determination to overcome, but it can be done.

Thanks for helping me to think again.

Sir Richard Evans is a historian of modern Europe and professor at Cambridge University

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I said I would vote Labour to stop the Tories, but Corbyn's refusal to apologise changed my mind - The Independent

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