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Gordon Brown Speaks to the Movement for Reform Judaism


Head of the Movement, Rabbi Dr. Tony Bayfield has invited the leaders of the three major parties to address the Reform Jewish community in the run up to the General Election. The second response comes from Gordon Brown of the Labour Party.

I was very pleased you offered me this chance to speak with members of your community as we’re facing a big choice election in the coming weeks. The values of Reform Judaism are very close to those we are promoting in this election, so I wanted to speak with the community about how our theme of a future fair for all might be particularly relevant to your lives.

One of the things I’m always struck by when speaking with  friends in the Jewish community  is how your faith manages to be so steeped in memory – and yet so focused on the future. Despite being one of the world’s most ancient peoples, you never stop thinking about tomorrow and the chances for the next generation.

And we are determined to do the best for our young people. That’s why from 2013 all young people will be required to continue in education or training post-16. This is not about raising the school leaving age. Young people will be able to choose how they participate, which could be in: full-time education, such as in school or in college; work-based learning, such as an apprenticeship; or part-time education or training, if they are employed, self-employed or volunteering for more than 20 hours a week.

And as we take the tough decisions to halve the deficit, we are determined that those who have the greatest needs should also get the greatest support. So we will protect frontline services like schools, the NHS and police which the mainstream majority rely on, while asking those with the broadest shoulders to carry more of the burden through small increases in tax at the very top.

Labour is running on a positive platform of national renewal, and I very much hope people will cast their votes with us. But more important even than who you vote for, is that you vote at all. If turn out is low it is the BNP and others at the extreme who will benefit, so I’d really urge everyone to turn out to vote to show that our differences in race and faith and background are a source of strength and not of division in Britain.

I’ve always been a champion of our diversity, and that is why I was pleased to be the first world leader to sign the London Declaration Against Anti-Semitism and will of course continue to implement it’s recommendations across Government. More recently we have seen many anti-semitic incidents where perpetrators use Israel as an excuse. That is deplorable and must always be resisted. There is never any place for violence or intolerance in Britain and I am proud to be not only a friend of Britain’s Jewish community, but a long-standing friend of Israel. I was deeply honoured to be the first British Prime Minister to address the Knesset and to have the chance to reaffirm the deep bonds of solidarity which unite our two nations.

With warm best wishes,



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