I was a member of the Labour Party from 1996 until 2013 when I quit and joined the German Greens (I explained my choice at the time here). However having been away from the UK only since 2012, and not yet having got German citizenship (it’s being processed), I still vote in the UK as an overseas voter in the Bethnal Green & Bow constituency, the last place I lived when I was resident in the UK. And as Brexit is still going to have an impact on my life and my rights, I am still going to vote.
I’d love to vote for the Greens in Bethnal Green & Bow at the forthcoming election, but they polled 2.5% at the last election in 2017. Labour’s candidate Rushanara Ali won by a country mile, but with the Tories in second place (results here). The tactical vote would be, once more, to vote Labour to ensure the Tories stay out.
But can I really do that?
Rushanara Ali‘s own personal behaviour, and voting record, has been impeccable – she has opposed Brexit from the start, and even voted against triggering Article 50 in 2017. She was a backer of Owen Smith against Jeremy Corbyn. She is one of the Labour MPs I trust and respect (along with people like David Lammy, Ben Bradshaw, Liz Kendall, Stephen Doughty, Alison McGovern (some of whom I know personally)).
But Rushanara is still a Labour MP.
And Labour, under Jeremy Corbyn, is an institutionally anti-semitic party. Yes, there are plenty of good people in the Labour Party still, and they are doing their best to root out the anti-semitism problems. But the news that Tom Watson, one of the most forceful people seeking to do just that, is standing down, worries me a lot. As if that were not enough, the behaviour of the Labour Party regarding Sally Gimson in Bassetlaw and its candidate selection in Liverpool West Derby.
So what should I do?
Reassure myself that voting for Rushanara Ali is a vote for one of the good people in Labour, and the battle to root out anti-semitism in the party can still be won? Or vote Green, the more ethical choice, but know that this slightly increases the danger of the Tories getting in (although the danger of that in Bethnal Green & Bow is very small indeed). It is not a simple choice.