I was a member of the Labour Party from 1996 until 2013 when I quit and joined the German Greens (I explained my choice at the time here). However having been away from the UK only since 2012, and not yet having got German citizenship (it’s being processed), I still vote in the UK as an overseas voter in the Bethnal Green & Bow constituency, the last place I lived when I was resident in the UK. And as Brexit is still going to have an impact on my life and my rights, I am still going to vote.

I’d love to vote for the Greens in Bethnal Green & Bow at the forthcoming election, but they polled 2.5% at the last election in 2017. Labour’s candidate Rushanara Ali won by a country mile, but with the Tories in second place (results here). The tactical vote would be, once more, to vote Labour to ensure the Tories stay out.

But can I really do that?

Rushanara Ali‘s own personal behaviour, and voting record, has been impeccable – she has opposed Brexit from the start, and even voted against triggering Article 50 in 2017. She was a backer of Owen Smith against Jeremy Corbyn. She is one of the Labour MPs I trust and respect (along with people like David Lammy, Ben Bradshaw, Liz Kendall, Stephen Doughty, Alison McGovern (some of whom I know personally)).

But Rushanara is still a Labour MP.

And Labour, under Jeremy Corbyn, is an institutionally anti-semitic party. Yes, there are plenty of good people in the Labour Party still, and they are doing their best to root out the anti-semitism problems. But the news that Tom Watson, one of the most forceful people seeking to do just that, is standing down, worries me a lot. As if that were not enough, the behaviour of the Labour Party regarding Sally Gimson in Bassetlaw and its candidate selection in Liverpool West Derby.

So what should I do?

Reassure myself that voting for Rushanara Ali is a vote for one of the good people in Labour, and the battle to root out anti-semitism in the party can still be won? Or vote Green, the more ethical choice, but know that this slightly increases the danger of the Tories getting in (although the danger of that in Bethnal Green & Bow is very small indeed). It is not a simple choice.


  1. Finisterre

    I am trying to keep an open mind about the anti-semitism issue. I hate all forms of discrimination, and have been subjected to it directly as a woman and indirectly, or at least very lightly, as a mixed (British-Latina) person. I have some idea of how scary and frustrating it is to be targeted because oif who you are, and I am conscious that the Holocaust adds an extra dimension to that, especially being within living memory.

    I followed the links you provided in your paragraph that begins with the assertion that Labour is institutionally anti-semitic. The Gimson one is about a left-wing candidate being parachuted in by Momentum, headed by Lansman, who is Jewish. the criticism seemed to be political (‘moderate’ vs ‘left’) rather than relevant to anti-semitism.

    The second was about West Derby, and featured a candidate who has clearly written or endorsed some grossly misogynistic things, but again, I didn’t see anything about anti-semitism.

    I am open to hearing about ways in which Labour is AS, and also institutionally AS. But I am also aware that Israel currently has a hard-right racist government, and that it has sent people like Shai Masot to undermine pro-Palestinian politicans such as Corbyn.

    In summary, I cannot find much evidence that Labour is institutionally AS, either in general or from your links. I see a lot of evidence that the Israel government dislikes Corbyn and would prefer him not to be in power. I also see a lot of complaints coming from Labour centrists about AS, and a lot of ignoring of Jewish groups who are pro-Labour.

    It’s difficult to avoid the conclusion that Labour is not especially antisemitic, although even a small amount is too much.

  2. I will be voting Lib Dem for the first time since 2005…

  3. Edward Spalton

    I can recall when ENOCH POWELL advised people to vote Labour. But that was when the Labour Party still believed in democratic government. He reckoned that four or five years of socialism was better than being ruled by the European Commission forever.

    How time change!

  4. Rosemary Romanek

    In your situation, I personally would vote for your Labour candidate as she seems honourable and anti-brexit. If she were otherwise, then I would definitely vote Green rather than help to put an obnoxious person into government.

  5. Richard

    Iā€™d give up pretending to do political analysis. If you are naive enough to buy the lie that Labour is institutionally antisemitic, you clearly have little insight and poor judgement.

    • Hey thanks for that. There is plenty of evidence that it is – or is this some evil media conspiracy to cause Corbyn a problem?

  6. Margaret Bluman

    Yes FPTP is an imperfect form of democracy, but if you are in any sense to the left of centre politically and a Europhile, vote tactically to prevent a Tory majority. The LP’s response to antisemites in the party has been woefully inadequate and the fact that there are antisemites and islamaphobes in all parties is no excuse. I am a LP member but voted Green at the European elections to voice my frustration at LP prevarications on Brexit. Like you, Jon, my constituency has a big Labour majority so my vote makes no difference. But those of a few hundred thousand will in our skewed system.

  7. Stefan

    I think I would vote for Rushanara Ali in that case. If the voting system only allows you to influence the outcome within one voting district, I would not worry too much about anything outside that district.

  8. Theodore Welter

    I would vote Green in your situation. If the CONs have any chance of winning that seat; they are going to win in a massive blowout anyway.

    • anonymous

      I agree. Since Tories are not going to win, voting Green sends the message to Labour that they are not completely safe, and to fellow voters that someone still cares even under FPTP.

  9. FPTP leaves so many people in this kind of situation. It’s a disgrace. I’d like to vote green, and have done, in a strong tory area. What’s the point? It is literally a waste of a vote. But then, over 67% of vote are wasted in UK FPTP elections. The UK is so far away from a democracy. It’s time to end Westminster and set up very localised governmental bodies, that anyone can freely participate in, in which decisions are made collectively. The idea of an “elected representative” needs to g – as if 1 person can represent over 70,000 people. What happens in Westminster gives the lie to that delusion every moment of every day.

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