"The Insider" mailing list article, 09 August 2007
The new Prime Minister of the UK, Gordon Brown, has appointed Jon Mendelsohn as "Director of Election Resources". Jon Mendelsohn, a wealthy Jewish businessman and prominent Zionist, is second-in-command in an organization called "Labour Friends of Israel", a branch of the Jewish Lobby within the ruling party in Britain. The role was previously held by Lord Levy, also a wealthy Jewish Zionish businessman, who was the subject of a police investigation into corruption in the funding of political parties.
Labour appoints election director
Labour has appointed a director of general election resources, in a move which will intensify speculation that Gordon Brown is to call a snap poll.
Businessman and former Tony Blair adviser Jon Mendelsohn will deal with improving the party's finances, membership and organisation.
The newly created role takes effect from the beginning of next month.
With Mr Brown buoyed by recent opinion polls, some observers believe he could call an election as early as October.
Mr Mendelsohn will report directly to International Development Secretary Douglas Alexander, the prime minister's general election coordinator, and Labour general secretary Peter Watt.
Labour said the voluntary role would be to "improve overall organisational efficiency and to develop the party's future financial strategies".
"He will work hand-in-hand with party staff on strengthening and extending our supporter base, seeking value for money in our expenditure and helping to build a party machinery that can best fight a general election, whenever the prime minister chooses to call it," it said.
Mr Watt said: "Jon is an experienced and successful businessman who is Labour to his core.
"Bringing him to work now on our preparations for the general election is an important step in our building for the future."
Mr Mendelsohn said: "As a lifelong Labour supporter and a passionate believer in social justice and equality, I am delighted to take up this post, helping the party prepare for the next general election.
"I hope that I can play my part in seeing the Labour government re-elected once again so Gordon Brown can continue to change Britain for the better."
A series of opinion polls has shown Labour maintaining a lead of six or seven points over the Conservatives since Mr Brown moved to 10 Downing Street.
A leaked memo last week showed the party's polling guru Lord Gould had advised Mr Brown in 2005 to go for "an early election after a short period of intense and compelling activity".
The prime minister has also asked Cabinet Office minister Ed Miliband to write an election manifesto.
But Downing Street has played down the prospect of an October election, stressing that the manifesto-writing process is likely to continue through the autumn.
Labour's finances are also in a worse state than those of the Tories, leading some commentators to suggest Mr Brown is more likely to call an election next spring.
Conservative leader David Cameron has said his party is ready for a snap poll.
Mr Mendelsohn was an adviser to Mr Blair from 1995 to 1997, when he left to co-found the LLM Communications lobbying firm.
He provided £5,000 to help fund Mr Brown's uncontested leadership bid.
He is quitting to take up the new role, Labour said, and would "have no commercial relationships with any previous clients".
Mr Mendelsohn is also treasurer of the Policy Network and Progress think-tanks.
BBC News, "Labour appoints election director", 9 August 2007.
Jewish Chronicle, "Brown as PM would be 'a friend of Israel'", 15 September 2006.
The latest example of the Chancellor's communal co-operation is a contribution to a social-action booklet being distributed to United synagogues for Rosh Hashanah.
In the publication, based on the book by Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks, 'To Heal a Fractured World,' Mr Brown wrote: 'I have been impressed by the sheer scale, breadth and strength of initiatives in our Jewish communities.'
The Chief Rabbi and Mr Brown are friends and Sir Jonathan is expected to contribute to a forthcoming collection of the Chancellor's speeches. Mr Brown has long cultivated ties to the community, often referring to the influence of his late father, a Church of Scotland minister, who visited Israel regularly.
Next week, the Chancellor will be honoured by the Holocaust Educational Trust in recognition of his commitment to Holocaust education, having last year announced a '1.5 million grant to enable the HET to take two students from every UK secondary school to the site of the Auschwitz death camp.
He is also close to major Labour donor Sir Ronald Cohen, whose Portland Trust promotes peace in the Middle East through economic development, a belief Mr Brown clearly shares.
At Labour Friends of Israel, Jon Mendelsohn said the Chancellor 'has a very developed sense of the politics of the region and is exceptionally fair and supportive. If he is our next Labour leader, Israel will have a very strong, supportive and practical friend in the UK.'
Lord Janner said that he had known Mr Brown's father, who was 'very pro-Israel and pro-Jewish. I believe Gordon to be the same. That does not make the pro-Israel approach of the present Prime Minister any less, but I don't think our community or Israel needs to worry.'
Jewish News Weekly, "U.K. overtures to Iran backfire, incensing Israelis, Iranians, Jews", 5 October 2001.
Last Friday, the vice chairman of Labor Friends of Israel, Jon Mendelsohn, criticized Straw for "bad policy" and insisted that it reflected "Foreign Office attitudes not shared by Mr. Blair."
Mendelsohn used to be an aide to Blair.