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T_i_B

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Former Labour Candidate: Labour's Growing Intolerance Has Crushed My Belief In The Role I Can Play

Confession time, I knew Oliver Coppard growing up in Sheffield. I didn't much like him back then as I always found him very full of himself. However, his clearly deeply held Jewish faith was always something I admired about him.

Oliver Coppard was Labour's candidate against Nick Clegg in 2015, and some people would consider him the obvious choice to be the Labour candidate in Sheffield Hallam at the next general election to replace the disastrous Jared O'Mara (who was backed heavily by Momentum). However, he is being forced out of Labour for what is actually his best and most redeeming feature!

https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/amp/entry/anti-semitism-labour_uk_5b7aeb27e4b018b93e965436/?utm_hp_ref=uk-politics&__twitter_impression=true

Iím Jewish. My own grandparents came to this country from Czechoslovakia and Austria; just two of a handful of my motherís family not to end up in Bergen Belsen or Auschwitz. They came here as frightened young people who knew nothing of the country they were joining or the fate of the family they left behind.

Until now I have always believed that the Labour Party is the best defence against the type of hatred that we saw in 1930s Nazi Germany, and the bigotry now growing again in other parts of the world. The Labour Party exists to represent the interests of the many, but that cannot mean silencing or disparaging the voices of the few, and the Jewish community are few. If the UK were made up of just 200 people, only one would be Jewish.

Solidarity with ethnic minority groups is not selective. Support for the Palestinian people is not an alternative to support for the Jewish community, but that is all too often how it is expressed. Let me say it now, sadly but clearly, the Labour Party currently feels like a hostile environment for all too many Jewish people like me. That is not just a stain on our movement but a tragedy for our country. Tolerance is not a spectrum, itís binary, and right now we are on the wrong side of that divide.

As the Party begins its search for a prospective MP in Sheffield Hallam, for now, despite encouragement from local people, the growing intolerance of our movement has crushed my belief that I could play an active role in putting the Labour Party into government and Jeremy Corbyn in Number Ten. I hope Iím wrong. I hope we regain the courage to respect a diverse range of voices, not just the Jewish community, but all those people with whom we disagree, without challenging their right to speak out or the good faith in which they do so. I hope we can rediscover what we used to know; that tolerance and empathy not only make us stronger as a movement but are a fundamental requirement of a transformative, socialist Party of government.
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