You are here:   1945 General Election > Labour has Lost Me

Ed Miliband: Mensch or unmensch? (image: Department of Energy, South Africa)

For the first time in five decades, I shall not be voting Labour. I have always been a socialist and I believe in the principles of socialism. I have stood on the hustings beside Neil Kinnock and canvassed for my Aunt Rita in her constituency in Hull. I was, somewhat blurrily, a Blair luvvie and I used my dislike of Mrs Thatcher to fuel some deadly impersonations of her. My late husband, Jack Rosenthal, canvassed for Sydney Silverman in the 1945 General Election. "In them days," said the father in his seminal television play Bar Mitzvah Boy, "they handed you your Labour Party membership just after your circumcision. They gave with one hand and took away with the other.''

I still believe that, until the Iraq debacle, Tony Blair did great work to restore the party's fortunes. I still thumb through Tony Benn's diaries with a fond smile and I am Alan Johnson's number one fan as a politician, a writer and a humane human being. I have all the time in the world for Margaret Beckett and still admire Frank Field. I rather liked David Miliband and have a sneaking suspicion he may return strengthened by his time out in the real world. But this lot? The Chuka Harman Burnham Hunt Balls brigade? I can't, in all seriousness, go into a booth and put my mark on any one of them.

Ed Miliband's leadership coup was as biblical as anything in the book of Genesis, although the unions probably had less sway in those days. He comes from a family of secular Jews but his need for union approval is much greater than his need for Jewish support. We make up less than one per cent of the population, so why should he care if we vote for him or not? At a recent gathering he asked me if I was a practising Jew. I told him I was constantly practising and seldom achieving, but I did my best. "Do you do Shabbat dinners?" he asked. "Yes, when I can," I told him. "Would you like to come?" He expressed enthusiasm to learn more about his religion of his birth. We parted with a promise to ring each other's people. Two days later he was all over the papers, knocking back a bacon sandwich.

Now there is nothing intrinsically wrong with a secular Jew chomping on a thinly sliced, pan-fried pig rump — my late husband, before we were married, had been known to queue up for such a thing from the catering van on an early morning film shoot. That was fine with me. His choice. I just couldn't kiss him. Wouldn't or couldn't or both. Fair choice, I thought: treif or wife?

There is a story about a rabbi who longed to try a pig's head — just couldn't get the thought out of his own head. One day he had cause to travel many miles away and he decided to sneak under nightfall into a small, out of the way restaurant, famous for its pig's heads. The head was delivered steaming to his table, replete with an apple in its mouth. As the rabbi was about to take a large bite out of the pig, the doors opened and in walked one of his congregation. He turned to the incomer and yelled: "Can you believe this farshtinkener place? You ask for an apple and this is how they serve it!"

View Full Article
Doubting Rich
May 1st, 2015
12:05 AM
"I have always been a socialist" It always astounds me that people apparently proudly admit to being socialists. It is so obviously an evil, dehumanising ideology. It so obviously treats people as the plaything of politicians and bureaucrats rather than thinking individuals. Yet people do not tear into a person who admits to agreeing with these vile ideas.

January 28th, 2015
2:01 PM
"If Hamas and Fatah cared one iota for the Palestinians, might they not have built schools..." I don't know about Hamas and Fatah. Does it mean that the Israeli government doesn't care about the Palestinians, because they blew up UN schools there?

November 10th, 2014
3:11 AM
barney rubble`s speculative unrealism is not exactly a wonder to behold. Does he have a stockpile of daft questions in a tunnel somewhere ? Zizek`s new book `Total Recoil:Towards a New Foundation of Dialectical Materialism` advocates rethinking not re-acting the 20th century politically and culturally.

barney rubbleb
November 7th, 2014
4:11 PM
") How can you recognise a state until its borders are decided?" does that mean since the borders between Israel and Palestine aren't decided that neither can be recognised ? Would Maureen Lipman justify Hamas's rockets by saying : "May I remind you that no one is blockading Dover or expanding Israeli settlements over Coventry , yet we seem to have every right to bomb the living daylights out of Iraq." - sounds like a similar logic to me - except of course there were no Hamas rockets for years prior to the recent attack by Israel.

November 6th, 2014
6:11 PM
Julie Burchill`s new pro-Israel book `Unchosen:Memoirs of a Philo-Semite` is a timely contribution to this discussion. Will (society of the spectacle `imam`) Self drearily criticising her " moronic,barroom bore " analysis but only revealing it`s him who is the moronic barroom bore on the subject. Cosmo Landesman is more generous and true in his Spectator review of her book. I`m biased as I even like the sound of her voice.

November 4th, 2014
8:11 PM
There is no Hamas only `the Palestinian people` for Jane Jackman,Barney Rubble and Douglas Redmayne ? Are the anti-Lipmans also anti-Douglas Murray ? Standpoint seems to be where actual muslims fear to tread. And yet it couldn`t be easier for them to join the discussion. Miliband,Harman and Clegg in their obscene farce with Elle`s t-shirts sums up what `useful idiot` means these days.

AnonymousDisappointed labour voter
November 4th, 2014
4:11 PM
So true. I do love a bacon butty but I agree with every other word she says. I've cancelled my direct debit and torn up my party card.

November 4th, 2014
1:11 PM
great articl

Brian Goldfarb
November 3rd, 2014
10:11 PM
I'm with Maureen on this one. Our prospective Labour General Election candidate has made it very clear (in personal conversation) that she's with Ed on this one. I have tried to make clear the illogic in this position, to no avail. This constituency (Hornsey & Wood Green) is a Labour/Lib. Dem. marginal - the Tories are nowhere - they have no councillors anywhere in the Borough. The sitting MP is a Lib. Dem, (Lynne Featherstone), who is Jewish and has made abundantly clear her stance on the Mid East: Israel has a right to defend itself from attack, as well as the right to exist in peace and security. We know where our votes are going in May. And like Maureen Lipman, we have, until now, never voted anything but Labour.

Jane Jackman
November 3rd, 2014
10:11 PM
This article makes me so angry I hardly know where to begin. Ms Lipman recycles the same well-worn canards used to defend Israel since the it dispossessed the Palestinian inhabitants in 1948 i.e. that Israel alone is singled out for censure, and that Israel has the right to defend itself from the evil terrorists bent on destroying the Jews. Israel does indeed have a right to defend itself - under the same international law that gives the Palestinian people the right to resist displacement from their lands and subsequent occupation. Moreover, under international law, Palestinian refugees have a right to return, a right that has been consistently refused by Israel, and the reason for their rejection of the peace terms offered by Israel. Sure, a two-state solution would be great, only Israel has so dismembered the land left to the Palestinians, even now stealing land for new Jewish settlements, that it is now a practical impossibility. Oddly enough, Ms Lipman, Ed Miliband's courageous stand on Israeli brutality in Palestine is the reason I might actually vote for Labour at the next election - and you have lost a fan.

Post your comment

This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.