Britain’s election has just turned from being an already bitter battle between – and within – the political parties over Brexit to one in which Britain’s Chief Rabbi warned that “the very soul of our nation is at stake.”
In a significant intervention, Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, has claimed in an article published in The Times that the way in which the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, has handled antisemitism allegations makes him “unfit for high office” and called on voters to use their conscience in the forthcoming election.
Furthermore, the Chief Rabbi added that “a new poison” has taken hold in Labour “sanctioned from the very top.” He said that Corbyn’s claim to have dealt with antisemitism is a mendacious fiction and “incompatible with the British values of which we are so proud.”
Rabbi Mirvis went on to explain that British Jews are gripped by an understandable and justified anxiety. He wrote: “How complicit in prejudice would a leader of Her Majesty’s opposition have to be to be considered unfit for office?”
“Would associations with those who have incited hatred against Jews be enough? Would describing as ‘friends’ those who endorse the murder of Jews be enough? It seems not.”
“It is not my place to tell any person how they should vote. I regret being in this situation at all. I simply pose the question: What will the result of this election say about the moral compass of our country? When December 12 arrives, I ask every person to vote with their conscience. Be in no doubt, the very soul of our nation is at stake.”
This is an existential moment in British political life, one more used to the Punch and Judy show style rows about funding for the NHS, the police or schools and ludicrous TV head to head debates in which all the leaders are revealed to have feet of clay.