JLM were delighted to celebrate the second night of Chanukah with well over 200 members and supporters at Labour Party HQ in London. See below for a selection of speeches given on the night:
Luciana Berger MP, Parliamentary Chair of JLM
I am Luciana Berger and I am the Labour MP for Liverpool Wavertree, and Parliamentary Chair of the JLM.
Thank you, Iain [McNicol], Jeremy [Newmark] and welcome to Labour Party headquarters, and to the Jewish Labour Movement Chanukah reception.
For those who may not know, Chanukah is the festival of lights for Jewish communities around the world, when we come together to eat well, to exchange gifts and to celebrate.
Whether a lifelong member of the Jewish Labour Movement, or a brand new supporter, and whatever your background, you are truly welcome.
Thank you, general secretary, for hosting us again this year. It is absolutely fitting that JLM is here at the heart of the Labour Party. Our predecessor organisation Poale Zion affiliated to the Labour Party in 1920. For one hundred years, we have been at the heart of the Labour Party.
As Government Ministers.
As Prime Ministers.
This is where we belong. Labour is our political home. And no matter what they throw at us, we are going nowhere else.
The end of the year gives us chance to reflect. It’s been a phenomenally busy and successful year for the Jewish Labour Movement.
We have new regional branches up and running. I am pleased to say the shadow education secretary Angela Rayner MP spoke at the North West JLM branch at the end of October.
The Midlands branch will launch early next year.
Thanks to tireless campaigning and arguing, we secured the support of the Labour conference for our statement on anti-Semitism (and all other forms of racism). Well done to Mike Katz for his brilliant speech.
This rule change is now Labour Party policy. It gives us a zero-tolerance approach to anti-Semitism. A couple of observations: one, why do we even need such a thing in a modern, progressive party? As Jeremy Newmark said at the time, it was an uphill struggle. Why on earth was it so hard? Why are some so resistant?
And two, now that we have such a strong statement as policy, how do we ensure the words are matched by action? That’s up to every decent member of the Labour Party to call out anti-Semitism in our meetings and online, and to send a clear signal that Labour is no place for those peddling anti-Semitic tropes and images.
What about the year ahead?
This is a really important year for Labour supporters and activists. We have the elections across London, and across England, which give us a chance to reconnect with Jewish voters in some of the key seats.
I’m pleased to say Jeremy Newmark has started this process of reconnection early, by getting himself elected in a by-election as a councillor for Borehamwood in Hertsmere Borough Council. Congratulations.
I hope that’s a sign of good things to come: today Borehamwood, tomorrow Finchley & Golders Green, and Hendon, and Chipping Barnet.
And, by the way, imagine the political situation right now if those three seats had gone Labour in the summer, and consider why Labour lost them by such slim margins.
In local government, JLM has been supporting Jewish councillors with their campaigns.
I am sure we all wish JLM’s local government officer Joe Goldberg well as he comes off the council in Haringey to enjoy more quality time with his young family. Joe – we all know we haven’t seen the last of you on the public stage.
So it will be a year dominated by elections, where JLM will play a full and active role, and by the ever-present possibility of a General Election if the May Minority Government falls.
Will we get a general election in 2018? Who knows! I think a lot of us moved out of the predictions business after the 2017 election.
But I know this: if ever a government deserved to be booted out of office, it is this one.
Whether it is the bungled Brexit negotiations, or starving our schools and NHS of cash, or the misery of welfare reforms, or holding hands with Donald Trump – this Government is failing the people of Britain.
Finally, I mentioned that JLM affiliated to the party in 1920. In 2020, we want to celebrate one hundred years of our official involvement (of course Jewish people have been involved in the Labour and trade union movement for far longer).
But to celebrate one hundred years, we want to involve our members and supporters. So, whilst it may seem a long way away, I am calling for ideas of how we can mark the centenary and celebrate the Jewish contribution to the Labour Movement.
We want national events, local events, serious events, fun events, perhaps even oral histories, publications, films, who knows! And I should also point out the myriad sponsorship opportunities for your trade union, organisation or company.
We have a wonderful, rich history of which we can be proud.
But we have a great future too.
So let’s redouble our efforts to win the arguments internally, and to win the elections out on the doorstep.
Thank you for coming, and Happy Chanukah.