27 November 2019, The Tablet

Labour cannot take Catholics for granted


General election 2019

Labour cannot take Catholics for granted

A statue of Sir Leo Schultz at Hull’s Guildhall
Photo:

 

Catholics and Jews have made common cause for social justice for a century or more. But one lifelong Labour voter says he can no longer support a party led by racists and anti-Semites

My great grandparents arrived in Hull in the 1840s from Kilbeggan, Westmeath, victims of a famine that had killed tens of thousands in that county alone, and forced tens of thousands more to become refugees. Not many years later, a second group of refugees arrived in the city. They were Jewish victims of pogroms in eastern Europe. Their community, too, had seen tens of thousands killed and tens of thousands more forced to leave their homelands.

Towards the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries, members of those two communities came together to help build the British labour and trade union movements. The Hull story is replicated in many other British cities. Catholics and Jews formed the backbone of much left-wing political activity throughout the twentieth century.

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