Meeting the Prime Minister

Our meeting at Downing Street illustrated many of the achievements of the community and the challenges it faces. The meeting had been a long time in coming and it was only after considerable efforts were expended by the JLC that we actually got it. The Prime Minister promised us that these meetings will now be a regular occurrence. It is very reassuring for the community leadership to meet up with government at the highest level. Many of the issues we raised such as equalities legislation, the Dilnott recommendations on social care, single faith provision and of course antisemitism are high on the agenda of our JLC member organisations, most of whom fed into the preparation process for the meeting.

There is a more significant point here. The traditional criticism of diaspora leaders is that they mistake access for influence. It is very easy for a Head of Government to meet communal leaders, give them a photo opportunity, listen politely to what  they say, and then do exactly the opposite. In our case, whilst this Government does not regularly meet faith community leadership at Downing Street level, it delivered legislative change on universal jurisdiction arrest laws, it is robust on Iran, it withdrew from Durban 3, it rescinded a problematic DFID video, intervened to prevent a PSC presence in London, and it has been helpful on many other issues.

Despite some people's impression, the community has punched way beyond its weight and its leadership has been effective in protecting its interests. This reflects the work done by a variety of organisations including the Board. The JLC is the central vehicle for co-ordinated and concerted planning and action.