WATCH: Keir Starmer filmed attending mock seder with Jewish healthcare professionals

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WATCH: Keir Starmer filmed attending mock seder with Jewish healthcare professionals

EXCLUSIVE: In a new video released by the party ahead of Passover, the Labour participates in a seder, at which one guest suggests the NHS is 'feeling the effects of 13 years of brutal underfunding'

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Keir Starmer has been filmed attending a mock Seder in which Jewish healthcare professionals discuss the experience of needing to “remain on call” over Passover.

Since becoming Labour leader, just over three years ago, Starmer has taken part in a succession of videos released ahead of the main Jewish festivals.

In the latest one, he sits on as guests at the Labour peer’s home proceed to sing their way through some of the most familiar moments in the Haggadah, including one young boy’s rendition of the Manish Tanah.

In a clear political message, one guest at the Seder, who confirms he works in general paediatrics at the Royal London in Whitechapel, east London, tells the Labour leader “we are feeling the effects of 13 years of brutal underfunding” by government.

The pre-Passover service is hosted by the Labour peer Lord Jonathan Kestenbaum and his wife Deborah.

Among those around the table are Talya, a doctor in the NHS, and a GP from Cricklewood.

Starmer is told by one guest Michal:”I have spent quite a few Passovers working in hospital.”

She adds “an amazing room” has been provided to “set up just like this one for a Seder..we have the Seder plate, we have matzahs.”

To much laughter around the table, Starmer at one stage reveals that at his, and wife Victoria’s own seder last year “we did it with two children, and they hid the matzah in the jacket of one of my protection police officers.”

Starmer then adds: “It was really good, because nobody thought to look there! We had to give up.”

Mock seder hosts

But there is also a more serious, and political message to the video, previewed exclusively by Jewish News on the eve of the first night of Pesach.

Asked by Starmer about the current situation at their hospitals, Joseph, who reveals he works at the Royal London, says:”In general paediatrics especially we had a large viral bounce last summer and it’s felt like it’s been winter since pretty much last summer.

“The number of kids who are sick and coming in and actually needing hospitalisation a lot of the time hasn’t really gone down that much. Staffing numbers haven’t gone up that much.

“I feel like we say it every year, but we are, this Spring, this Passover, we are feeling the effects of 13 years of brutal underfunding.”

Starmer then sorts: “It’s sort of NHS crisis every year, except every crisis gets worse than the year before.”

Joseph suggests this is because the government “keep not funding it, every year they keep ruining staff retention.

“They are not doing anything good about staff recruitment. When you are on a shift you see the next patient, you do the best you can for them. But at the end of the shift you look at the waiting room, or the board and you see how many are waiting and you feel like you’ve made a difference on the individual basis.

“But you still haven’t scratched the surface because there’s still a lot of people waiting.”

The Labour leader then suggests: “It will take a lot of turning around.”

Thanking his guests for inviting him to the “important celebration” they continue with the Seder as Starmer watches on.

Mock seder night host Lord Jonathan Kestenbaum has been at the centre of Labour’s interaction with communal figures under Starmer as part of his pledge to “root out antisemitism.”

At last week’s Community Security Trust annual dinner, Starmer told guests of his pride at “strong and deep” ties to the Jewish community.

He attended the event with his wife Victoria, who is Jewish.

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