Antisemitism from elected Tories is always very deliberate and unambiguous. Their language is very precise. Tory antisemitism is never vague or open to multiple interpretations; it is spoken with clarity and purposefully. The intent is not just to be offensive and to encourage prejudice against Jewish people but also to be seen to be doing so.
Tories’ precise use of antisemitism is motivated by general election campaign strategy. They are trying to ensure they do not lose too many votes to Brexit Party. The latter’s success in the EU elections at the Tories’ expense and the creation of a very right-wing Tory cabinet meant that bigotry, prejudice, divisive language and racism will be the tools used by the Tories in an election campaign.
On October 3rd Leader of the House Jacob Rees-Mogg invoked the name of businessman George Soros as a response to a point about Tory donors benefitting from decisions made by the government related to Brexit. The point raised by an opposition MP was about the synchronicity between Tory decisions and statements and the ease with which Tory donors and associates made millions in market gambling. Rees-Mogg’s decision to use Soros’ name was unrelated to the point made to him.
In response to Rees-Mogg, Alfred Dubs, a peer in the House of Lords, said
“Jacob Rees-Mogg’s comments are straight from the far right’s antisemitic playbook. Like George Soros, I fled Nazi persecution, and like me, George Soros campaigns for European countries to give sanctuary to refugees today, just as I was given refuge as a child in 1939. Boris Johnson and his government don’t want vulnerable people who they see as being different to them coming to our country. Those are the same arguments that were used against me and other Jewish people coming here 80 years ago.”
Rees-Mogg knew he had used an antisemitic trope. His words were deliberate. He has form. In 2013 he attended a business and lobbying dinner with the founder of racist, antisemitic think-tank Western Goals Institute, Gregory Lauder-Frost. In its own words, Western Goals Institute is
“dedicated to the preservation of the cultures and identities of western nations. We are conservatives who believe in traditional conservative values. A multicultural society does not work. We wish to protect the way of life we had before immigrants arrived. It was a mistake to permit these people to come here. Politicians must now accept this. Large numbers of immigrants reject European culture and wish to remain alien in religion and culture. We want European culture in European countries. We would seek to have treaties with countries to permit resettlement.”
On October 1st Home Secretary Priti Patel used antisemitic trope ‘North London Metropolitan Elite’ in a speech on immigration. Her decision to use such a precise phrase was driven by a desire to be blatantly and proudly antisemitic. She wanted to show that the Tories are a home for antisemitism.
At a far-right think-tank Bruges Group event in March Tory MP Suella Braverman deliberately used antisemitic trope ‘Cultural Marxism’ in a speech. The phrase was for the benefit of the Bruges Group audience. Bruges Group‘s director Robert Oulds co-wrote a paper called ‘Moralitis: A Cultural Virus’ that depicted liberal and non-racist views as a “disease.”
The examples above show how Tory MPs used antisemitism brazenly as a display for votes from far-right voters. Their use of antisemitism was not necessarily honest expressions of their respective views; it was an appeal to people who are antisemitic to try to persuade them to support the Tory party in an election.
Nathan Boroda for Jewish News