Last month, the Jewish Leadership Council, alongside the Board of Deputies and the Greater Manchester Jewish Representative Council hosted around 50 Councillors to discuss Jewish life in Manchester. This is the third time we have collectively run this seminar and it continues to gain strength and support.
It great to see so many Councillors attending with whom we have fostered relationships. Several of these councillors perform dual roles of representing their local wards whilst simultaneously employed as caseworkers in MPs offices. The event also served as an excellent opportunity to meet and forge links with new Councillors from across the region. There was a large contingent from outside the Jewish heartlands of Bury, Salford and Manchester. This was particularly pertinent to Ed Horwich who spoke about his work running the Jewish Small Communities Network.
The seminar is designed to address and not shy away from the issues that we have as a community. The largest sessions were on the topics of antisemitism and Israel. The participants heard powerful testimony from Holocaust survivor Ruth Lachs. In addition, there were valued contributions by representatives from the Community Security Trust, Holocaust Memorial Day Trust and the Jewish Representative Council.
The session on Israel also started with powerful personal recollections from Niran Bassoon-Timan. Niran is an Iraqi refugee who was forced to flee her home country for Israel in 1948. Hannah Rose, President of the Union of Jewish Students, spoke eloquently about how the unjust delegitimisation of Israel negatively affects young Jewish people. Luke Akehurst from We Believe in Israel discussed his work with Councillors including his regular delegations to Israel and Anthony Dennison discussed the work of North West Friends of Israel.
The other purpose of the seminar was to highlight the positive aspects of the Jewish community, such as the work of our social care providers and schools. Councillors were naturally impressed to hear about the work of The Fed, Nicky Alliance and Outreach. By hosting the event at King David School, participants could see first-hand how much the school is thriving. The Chair of Governors, Joshua Rowe, also discussed the vision and ethos of the school.
For the first time at the seminar, there was a panel on the Charedi community in Manchester. It is clear to see that the community is thriving and growing rapidly. It was therefore essential to give Councillors the opportunity to discuss the unique needs of this section of our community.
My main objective has and always will be allowing our member organisations and communal bodies to benefit from the links established with the region’s MPs. I am currently in regular contact with 87 MPs. This includes the newest group of MPs elected following the 2017 General Election. Over 30 MPs from both sides of the House hold Ministerial or Shadow Ministerial portfolios.
The overwhelming majority of these MPs have now been met on numerous occasions, enabling strong and trusted links to have been developed. As an umbrella body, we are rightly extremely proud of the work our members undertake. It is therefore imperative that MPs from across the country and political spectrum have the opportunity to meet with our members when their mutual interests overlap.Read more
JLC North West regional manager Marc Levy provides an update on the important political outreach and community co-ordination that has taken place recently and is continuing to move forward.
The past few months have been extremely busy, as I have been dashing around the country meeting the regions elected politicians. It is now the case that I am regularly engaging with almost 80 MPs, from across the North West, Merseyside and North Wales. For the first time, the MPs are enjoying having the option of meeting with the community in either London or their constituencies. This flexibility is crucial due to each individual MP having their own preference around where is best to engage with the community. Those holding Ministerial or Shadow Ministerial Briefs, Select Committee Chairs or the many Parliamentary Private Secretaries from the region tend to prefer meeting in the constituency. This is due to the fact their time in Parliament is tied up with their important work. That being said, several senior politicians on both sides of the House have still made time to engage with the JLC and our members in Westminster. Backbench MPs whose focus is on their constituency casework may find it easier to find time in Westminster.Read more
In the North West, irrespective of the election results, we were always going to be welcoming five new MP’s. This was due to Andy Burnham and Steve Rotheram becoming Metro Mayors of Manchester and Liverpool respectively. The seat of Southport was vacated by Liberal Democrat John Pugh. In addition, former Chancellor George Osborne decided that he was not going to stand in Tatton. Finally, Manchester Gorton was electing a new MP for the first time in 34 years following the death of Sir Gerald Kaufman.
It was no surprise that Jo Platt was elected to represent Andy Burnham’s old constituency of Leigh. Dan Carden replaced Steve Rotheram in the safe Labour seat of Liverpool Walton. Manchester Gorton is another of Labour’s safest seats. This was comfortably won by former MEP Afzal Khan who is well known to the Manchester Jewish community for his interfaith work. Longstanding Conservative Friends of Israel Member Esther McVey won the seat of Tatton. The only real marginal from the vacated seats was Southport where Conservative Damien Moore beat a strong Labour challenge.
Apart from this, there were five further seats that changed hands. Conservative Graham Evans, who is a longstanding friend of the community, lost his Weaver Vale seat to Mike Amesbury. Mike is well known to many due to his service as a Manchester Councillor. One major upset was Cabinet Minister Edward Timpson losing his Crewe and Nantwich seat by 48 votes. David Nuttall lost his Bury North seat to Labour’s James Frith. James is a former Bury Councillor and as a result is well known to the community. Conservative David Mowat lost his Warrington South constituency to Labour’s Faisal Rashid. Former Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Lloyd won the safe seat of Rochdale. He was chosen to stand for the Labour Party ahead of incumbent MP Simon Danczuk who polled around 2% of the vote standing as an Independent.
The General Election result means that out of the 60 MP’s I have been liaising with, 50 have been returned to Parliament. One of my priorities over the forthcoming recess will be to meet with the new Members of Parliament to discuss issues that affect our community.
On a local level, the newly elected Metro Mayors have commenced their roles. Throughout the campaign, the JLC worked extremely closely with Andy Burnham introducing him to several communal stakeholders. I am pleased that we already have a meeting arranged to deepen our relationship moving forward. Baroness Beverley Hughes has taken over the role of Police and Crime Commissioner. She is well known to many in the community and again a meeting has been scheduled.
The JLC arranged for communal stakeholders to meet Joanne Roney. Joanne replaced JLC Vice President Sir Howard Bernstein as Chief Executive of Manchester Council. Following the meeting, Joanne has committed to visiting our communal infrastructure and further engagement with the community.
I was delighted that the Greater Manchester Combined Authority unanimously adopted the IHRA definition on antisemitism. This motion was brought about following extensive lobbying by the JLC. The Combined Authority is comprised of the ten largest Councils from the Greater Manchester region.
To conclude, I am presently arranging several Parliamentary days to introduce our communal stakeholders with the MP’s I have met in the region. These meetings will take place prior to the forthcoming recess. During the long summer recess, it is my plan to meet with several MP’s in their constituency offices. I will also be continuing my engagement with the Leadership of several Councils from across the region.