I woke up the morning after the election feeling as if I had been played like a trump card. As a Jewish person, I was under no illusion that my Jewish brothers and sisters and I had, during this election, been used in a game of political point-scoring. And Boris Johnson, egged on by the far right, had won it.
The Prime Minister does not care about Jewish people. He is not interested in working with our community to better it or to celebrate our diversity. He, and countless members of his party, wished only to acknowledge us during the Conservative election campaign when it was appropriate to make a jibe at the opposition. In doing so, Johnson has made his position alarmingly clear: that anti-Semitism must be condemned when expedient but that all other kinds of discrimination, including his Islamophobia, are tolerable. This position is dangerous to all minority communities up and down our country. It is a position that has unapologetically re-enfranchised a far-right movement and legitimised grounds for its existence. Now, more than ever, this movement has a political platform that is shared — even welcomed — by the man who holds the highest office in the UK.
In the same month that the Conservatives won their majority, Britain First — the fascist organisation responsible for the Tommy Robinson persona and mosque attacks, including the one in Finsbury Park — has urged its members to join the Conservative Party in support of Johnson. In the same month that Boris Johnson was re-elected as Prime Minister, Katie Hopkins responded to a Muslim Conservative Lord’s concern over lack of independent inquiry into Islamophobia in the party by tweeting that: ‘Nationalism is back. British people first’.
Also, in the same month that Boris Johnson was re-elected as Prime Minister, The Jewish Chronicle published an article by Melanie Phillips that equated Islamophobia to being both ‘bogus’ and anti-Jew and that non-Zionist Jews were self-hating. Later, the same Chronicle claimed that the publication of Phillips’ article was an ‘error’.
Lastly, in the same month that Boris Johnson was re-elected, the Queen’s Speech laid out a new electoral system in which Voter ID will become a mandatory component of ballot-box democracy. According to the Electoral Commission, 3.5 million citizens — disproportionately, ethnic minorities — have no access to ID. This is a Conservative government that will, without hesitation, scapegoat whichever minorities are necessary to sacrifice, in order to influence the outcome of an election and pursue policies that will harm those minorities. I ask my Jewish brothers and sisters to consider this. Do not be surprised if Boris Johnson, a serial liar, will one day turn his back on us when it suits him and the Conservative Party’s political agenda.
That’s why we must unite and fight back against this Conservative government and the far-right platform it’s enabled. The next five years will be difficult for so many of us. The Conservative Party will never choose to help minorities — especially if they are marginalised and poor. Pitting communities against each other, instead of working cross-communally, will only hinder our chances to be rid of the government that infringes the basic rights of minority groups. The struggle against a right-wing government, and its apologia for the resurgence of fascism, is a collective one. The struggle of one community is not another community’s gain. We must all stand against racism in whichever form it comes. That fight starts now.
Up and down our country, across towns and cities, on the ground, we must organise. The organisation of our communities, grassroots-style, through education and mobilisation of our community members, will mean that we can hold our government’s actions and decisions to account. We will seek to be rid of the scourge of extreme right-wing movements in the UK that our government turns a blind eye to. A majority government can do lots but organised communities, when working in cooperation across racial and religious boundaries to make our government accountable for its actions, can do so much more.
Of course, fascist movements existed in the UK before Boris Johnson was Prime Minister. The platform in which Johnson was elected on, however, is one that gives a mandate to the far right either through racism spouted by the leadership itself, or the policies exuded in the Conservative manifesto that aim to reduce protections of the most vulnerable members of our society. Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party legitimises the existence of the far right. And we all know that the far right is nothing but hateful towards Judaism, Islam or any other minority religion or race, for that matter.
Only in uniting our communities will we be strong enough to combat the divisions this Conservative government threatens to create. Only in solidarity, will we defeat the resurgence of far-right nationalism in the UK.