Winners and losers

UK vote had mixed results for those who trade on anti-Israel rhetoric.

UKElections2010Candidates311 (photo credit: Associated Press)
(photo credit: Associated Press)
The British general election produced mixed results on Thursday for those who trade on anti-Israel rhetoric. George Galloway’s political career seems to have been finally ended when the Respect Party MP lost his fight with Labor’s Jim Fitzpatrick. Respect’s other two parliamentary candidates also failed to make it to Parliament.
Gerald Kaufman (Labor), who said that right-wing millionaire Jews controlled the Conservative Party, was convincingly reelected, while Martin Linton (Labor), 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 – which supports the campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel – succeeded in getting its first MP when its leader, Caroline Lucas, won in Brighton on the south coast of England.
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.
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 (Labor) were reelected and Luciana Berger (Labor) and Robert Halfon (Conservative) became MPs for the first time.
Andrew Dismore (Labor), a strong Israel supporter who was targeted by MPAC, lost his seat to Matthew Offord (Conservative). MPAC called this a “triumph” 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 Liberal Democrats whose leader, Nick Clegg, called for the banning of the sale of arms to Israel during Operation 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 amnesty to some one million illegal immigrants and on taking Britain into the euro, especially with the death and destruction in Athens being broadcast on our screens leading up to the election.
NONE OF the three main parties ended up with an overall majority of more than 326 seats. The Conservatives now have 306 (up 97), Labor 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 to restore the semblance of stability.
MORE CRITICAL 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 Labor has been generally unsupportive on the Dubai assassination of Hamas terrorist Mahmoud al-Mabhouh and on the Goldstone Report.
The areas of London with large numbers of Jewish voters, including thefour voting districts of Finchley and Golders Green, Hendon, ChippingBarnet and Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner all returned Conservative MPs.Many British Jews might well have voted this way out of concern for thepolicies of Labor and the Lib Dems on Israel, while the Conservativesare seen as generally more sympathetic to its situation.
The Conservatives will likely clamp down more firmly on Islamicradicalism and will seek to ban Hizb ut Tahrir (the Global IslamicPolitical Party which seeks a Caliphate), but what Jewish voters didnot reckon on is that by voting Conservative, they could get the LibDems as part of the package.
There is need for political stability in Britain as quickly as possibleto tackle the huge budget deficit. As the parties hammer out agreementin private, most British Jews hope that this will not be at the expenseof Israel.
The writer is a London-based freelance journalist, studying for an MAin Near and Middle Eastern studies at SOAS. He blogs