Gabi Kobrin: Dinner with the Leader of the Opposition – The Importance of Cross-party Engagement

Under one roof, the JLC unites organisations from social care to community security, from the Liberal and Masorti Judaism to the United Synagogue and across the political spectrum. The Jewish community’s strength is in its vibrancy and diversity and as such, cross party support is imperative, to ensure the community’s concerns are addressed not only in the short term but in the long term as well. The JLC is therefore committed to engagement with all the main political parties.

The race towards the general election in 2015 is now in full swing as Parliamentary candidates get selected up and down the country. It is vital that the Jewish community articulates its concerns both to Government and to the Opposition. Recently, the JLC held its annual meeting with the Prime Minister. In a highly constructive meeting the community raised issues of concern that pertain both to domestic and foreign policy. Since taking office, the Prime Minister has been extremely engaged with the Jewish community and we are grateful for that.

Following that meeting, in February, the JLC had its annual meeting with the Leader of the Opposition, Ed Miliband. The meeting was of an informal nature, allowing Mr. Miliband to hear the community’s concerns as part of a free-flowing discussion. This was also an opportunity for the communal leaders to hear the Opposition Leader’s thoughts and vision leading up to the general election. As with the Prime Minister, subjects covered everything from antisemitism and shechita on the domestic policy front to the peace process and the delegitimisation of Israel in the UK on the foreign policy front. The meeting will lead to valuable follow up opportunities across different policy areas and the JLC will now be engaging with various shadow ministers to advance our agenda.

As we have in the past, and in the spirit of cross party engagement, the JLC will attend the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat party conferences. It is important that the political parties understand our needs, functions and concerns. It is equally important that the community is in tune with how changes in Government policy after the 2015 General Election might impact the community.