Le Carré and Boyd among authors declaring refusal to vote Labour over anti-Semitism association

Le Carré and Boyd among authors declaring refusal to vote Labour over anti-Semitism association

Authors John le Carré, William Boyd, Sathnam Sanghera, Frederick Forsyth and Antony Beevor are among a number of public figures declaring their refusal to vote Labour in the coming general election over the party's association with anti-Semitism.

In a letter to the Guardian, 24 signatories – also including actors Joanna Lumley and Simon Callow, and historians Tom Holland and Dan Snow – described the coming election as containing "a particular anguish" for British Jews: "the prospect of a prime minister steeped in association with anti-Semitism".

Accusing Jeremy Corbyn of allowing two Jewish MPs to be bullied out of the party while himself holding "a long record of embracing antisemites as comrades", the letter said its signatories could not simply see their Jewish friends' pain "relegated" as an issue and the fight against anti-Semitism "surrendered" in wake of Brexit.

The letter reads: "The coming election is momentous for every voter, but for British Jews it contains a particular anguish: the prospect of a prime minister steeped in association with anti-Semitism. Under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, Labour has come under formal investigation by the Equality and Human Rights Commission for institutional racism against Jews. Two Jewish MPs have been bullied out of the party. Mr Corbyn has a long record of embracing anti-Semites as comrades.

"We listen to our Jewish friends and see how their pain has been relegated as an issue, pushed aside by arguments about Britain’s European future. For those who insist that Labour is the only alternative to Boris Johnson’s hard Brexit, now, it seems, is not the time for Jewish anxiety.

"But anti-Semitism is central to a wider debate about the kind of country we want to be. To ignore it because Brexit looms larger is to declare that anti-Jewish prejudice is a price worth paying for a Labour government. Which other community’s concerns are disposable in this way? Who would be next?

"Opposition to racism cannot include surrender in the fight against anti-Semitism. Yet that is what it would mean to back Labour and endorse Mr Corbyn for Downing Street. The path to a more tolerant society must encompass Britain’s Jews with unwavering solidarity. We endorse no party. However, we cannot in all conscience urge others to support a political party we ourselves will not. We refuse to vote Labour on 12 December."

A Labour party spokesperson said: "It’s extraordinary that several of those who have signed this letter have themselves been accused of anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and misogyny. It’s less surprising that a number are Conservatives and Lib Dems.

"We take allegations of anti-Semitism extremely seriously, we are taking robust action and we are absolutely committed to rooting it out of our party and wider society."

It comes after Le Carré signed a letter in May, condemning Brexit.  The book trade has been invited to share its views on the upcoming general election here.