Lib Dem hopefuls Jo Swinson and Ed Davey on Jew-hate, Israel and faith schools

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Lib Dem hopefuls Jo Swinson and Ed Davey on Jew-hate, Israel and faith schools

Both sought to present the Lib Dems as an alternative to Labour and ruled out propping up a Jeremy Corbyn-led government

Lib Dem Leadership candidates Jo Swinson and Ed Davey
Lib Dem Leadership candidates Jo Swinson and Ed Davey

Lib Dem leader hopefuls Jo Swinson and Ed Davey have sought to make their case to the Jewish community as the party prepares to elect a new leader.

Deputy leader Swinson and Davey, ex-secretary of state for energy and climate change, discussed wide-ranging issues in an interview with Liberal Democrat Friends of Israel, published yesterday.

Both sought to present the Lib Dems as an alternative to Labour, with Davey stressing: “We are not only progressive, liberal and pro-European, but we have and must always have zero tolerance for antisemitism.”

Similarly, Swinson said she perceived her party as the natural home of the Jewish community and criticised Labour over its handling of antisemitism.”The Panorama documentary reinforced what has become evident in recent years,” she said.

Both ruled out propping up a Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour government, with Swinson adding: “Corbyn is a Brexiteer which makes coalition impossible and undesirable. His inability, at best to act on antisemitism within his party would make it impossible for me to work with him on a personal level in any sort of arrangement.”

The two expressed concern about the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions movement, with Swinson saying: “It is counter-productive and simply adds fuel to a confrontational and aggressive narrative that those who do not want peace wish to build.”

However, Swinson said she supported the European Union’s practice of labelling goods made in occupied territories and Davey also admitted his view “there may be a case for sanctions against produce from illegal settlements”.

He added: “The issue about such a narrow and focused sanction is its practicality, and to prevent it becoming a ‘thin end of the wedge’ descent into wider and wrong anti-Israel sanctions. So I have been cautious, whilst understanding the case.”

On faith schools, Davey said he did not back expansion but added that existing schools should not be forced to drop faith-based admission policies, favouring instead a “gradual shift” over time.

On the subject, Swinson said she was committed to freedom of choice and religion, adding: “Faith schools have a valuable role to play in strengthening our communities understanding of other faiths and practices.”

Both agreed the UK has part to play in the Middle East peace process, including, Davey said, by “ditching Brexit and working hard to re-establish our international credibility”.

Meanwhile, Swinson criticised President Donald Trump’s economic peace plan, unveiled in June for failing “to address the biggest challenges, including land, refugees and Palestinian independence, showing a critical lack of understanding.”

Both said they supported a two-state solution and recognised Israel’s right to exist, with Swinson calling on all states in the region to do the same.

But Davey added: “I would avoid using the term Zionist about myself or in any context, as in my experience, it is a term that gets confused and abused. I absolutely recognise its historical meaning, and understand that if you believe in the right of Israel to exist, and the two-state solution […] there is a logical link to Zionism and in such a context, properly understood, I am clearly a Zionist.”



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