YOUR regular contributor Selwyn is taking a well-earned break in Palestine for the Jewish holidays and has kindly lent me his column so that I can speak to Jewish readers direct and address some of the unkind things that have been said about me on these pages in recent months.
First, let me assure you I am not antisemitic. I have fought antisemitism (and other forms of racism) all my life and the suggestion that I am in some way prejudiced towards Jews is a calumny which I find deeply upsetting.
I know only too well how much Jews have suffered from antisemitism in the past.
My parents fought Oswald Mosley’s Blackshirts on Cable Street in the 1930s and I don’t need to be told what happened to Jews under Nazi oppression during the war.
My good friend Ken Livingstone is also an expert on the period and sends me regular information packs. And contrary to your former Chief Rabbi, I am not a modern-day Enoch Powell.
In the 1960s, Powell railed against immigration and, like Alf Garnett, demanded that black people “go back where they came from”.
On the contrary, I want Jews to stay in Britain and vote Labour; the last place I want them to go is Palestine — but more of that later.
The Labour Party is the natural home of Jewish voters. When I was growing up, they nearly all voted Labour and many of our best and brightest MPs were Jewish, too.
Who can forget, for example, the saintly — though sadly departed — Gerald Kaufman?
Our leaders, too, were great friends of the Jewish people: Harold Wilson, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, Ed Miliband (not so much — which even I thought was strange!).
Has it ever occurred to the Jewish community that Labour is the only party whose founding philosophy was first articulated by a Jew — none other than the great Karl Marx.
Admittedly, Marx wasn’t terribly fond of Jews himself, and if he were to repeat today what he wrote about Jews in the 19th century, we would have to haul him before a disciplinary panel to explain himself — though I hope they wouldn’t suspend him as they did my good friend Ken.
But you can’t deny that Jewish thinking underpins the whole ethos of the Labour Party. No other political party was inspired by a Jew.
Certainly not the Tories (William Pitt) or the Lib Dems (William Gladstone), the SNP (Braveheart’s William Wallace), Plaid Cymru (medieval Welsh fighter Owain Glyndwr) or the Greens (an environmentalist collective comprising Tom and Barbara from The Good Life, Worzel Gummidge and Camberwick Green’s Windy Miller).
Is there a name among these founding fathers of our rival parties that has the same Jewish ring as Marx?
In modern Britain, only the Labour Party is Jewish to its core, as my good friend Jon Lansman will attest.
Of course, today’s Labour Party has come a long way from the bad old days when it was hijacked by Tony Blair and Peter Mandelson for no other purpose than to win elections and implement Labour Party policies.
Jewish voters will know what I mean when I say that Labour needs to be less “broad church” (I’m an atheist after all!) and more like a chassidic sect.
If you want to be a Satmar, you’ve got to look like a Satmar and think like a Satmar.
I am the Labour Party’s “Rebbe”, so to speak, and Seumas Milne is my loyal assistant — Shamas Milne we call him, ha ha!).
Regrettably, some of our MPs such as Ivan Lewis, Louise Ellman and Luciana Berger are not Satmar and just don’t fit in any more.
Yes, they have served their constituencies well, but it would be better for everyone if they were encouraged to leave the party.
I have, of course, no problem with the fact that they are Jewish (did I mention that I have fought antisemitism and other forms of racism all my life?).
Please don’t fall for the lies of the “Zionist media” that under a proper socialist system the economy would collapse and we would become like Venezuela where a pint of milk currently costs one million bolivars (probably 1.2 million by the time you read this).
My trusted Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell has prepared plans to ensure that milk, like other important foodstuffs, is properly rationed so that no one has to bankrupt themselves to buy a pint.
I realise many in the Jewish community are concerned about the warm relations I have enjoyed in the past with Hamas and Hezbollah.
But none of you has ever met them. I have and can assure you that they are not the bogeymen that they are often portrayed.
Like me, they just want Jews to live in comfort and safety — and have suggested London, New York, Paris and Berlin.
What’s antisemitic about that? The Torah teaches us to love peace. I am a man of peace — and, no, that’s not meant to be ironic (not that you would understand anyway).
For too long the Jewish community has been beguiled by Thatcherism, Blairism and the prophets of capitalism (or should that be profits? Another bit of irony for you!).
It’s time for you to return to your socialist roots.
Wishing you all a Shana Tova.