Michael Gove urged to extend Lord Mann’s term as antisemitism adviser

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Michael Gove urged to extend Lord Mann’s term as antisemitism adviser

Jewish News understands communal leaders have pressed the Communities Secretary to extend Lord Mann's term as the government's independent antisemitism adviser for another year

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Michael Gove said in January he was 'minded' to withdraw an offer of funding made to IFN more than six months earlier
Michael Gove said in January he was 'minded' to withdraw an offer of funding made to IFN more than six months earlier

Communities Secretary Michael Gove has been urged to extend Lord John Mann’s term as the government’s independent adviser on antisemitism for another year, amid continued rumours he plans to sack him.

Jewish News understands that communal leaders have asked Gove to delay any decision over Mann’s future, with his five year term in the role coming to an end in July, because of the unprecedented situation with rising antisemitism across the country.

A Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities spokesperson told Jewish News on Wednesday that “no decisions on the appointment have been made” and also said the “independent adviser on antisemitism is a critical role that makes a significant contribution.”

But one Westminster source told Jewish News:”With a general election only months away, and with the Jewish community in this country experiencing unprecedented levels of hate, it makes little sense replacing a government adviser who is widely respected for the work he has done in the role.

“It is not Michael Gove’s fault that Lord Mann’s five year tenure ends in July. But we are asking him to put off any decision on replacing him until next year.”

Screenshot from Parliament TV of Lord John Mann being introduced to the House of Lords, swearing an oath of allegiance to the Queen

A Levelling Up department spokesperson did not respond to claims that there had been discussions held about replacing Mann, with at least one individual actively sounded out about taking on the role.

But they insisted the former Labour MP, who was made a crossbench peer in 2019 by former prime Minister Theresa May, had provided “invaluable advice” in the role with “landmark reports” on anti-Jewish hatred and on Jewish experience in higher education.

The move to replace Mann has been met with widespread anger within the community, with the Board of Deputies president Marie van der Zyl and former Jewish Leadership Council chair Jonathan Goldstein openly expressing concern.

Senior Conservative voices from within the community have also been among those to question the wisdom of replacing Mann at a critical time for the community, in the aftermath of the October 7th Hamas terror attack in Israel.

Jewish News has learned that a member of Lord Mann’s team is due to go on maternity leave this month, raising fears around the payments of salaries after July, with no clarity on whether or not he would still be in the job.

But the Levelling Up spokesperson confirmed that Lord Mann has now been informed that funding for the secretariat for the independent adviser role will continue into the next financial year.

The spokesperson also said the department is committed to providing secretariat support to the role, adding this commitment has not changed.

The Tory MP Brendan Clarke-Smith has been among those fiercest critics of Lord Mann, often berating him on social media.  Clarke-Smith faces a challenge to hold on to the Bassetlaw seat at the next election, with Jo White, the deputy leader of the council, and Lord Mann’s wife, standing for Labour.

Last week, as he outlined details of the new definition of extremism, Gove praised Mann’s work on antisemitism as being “outstanding.”

But there are claims that the peer is viewed by some as being “too independent” of the current government.

But replacing Mann with a person seen as being more partisan towards the Conservatives could backfire if Labour wins at the next election.

Keir Starmer’s party are unlikely to want to keep someone seen as being hostile towards their own goals in the post.

Starmer has previously told Jewish News he woulds wish to “enhance” the adviser on antisemitism role.

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