A council with the UK’s largest percentage of Jews has seen a massive revolt by Jewish voters against Jeremy Corbyn with Conservatives taking control from the Labour Party.
Barnet Council was a target for Labour, with Corbyn visiting the constituency earlier in the week. However, the Tories took all three seats in Hale ward, keeping two and taking one from Labour, and all three in West Hendon ward.
The significance of this result is that the Jewish population of Barnet is around 15% of the population, the highest percentage of any council in the country.
In contrast, the Conservatives retained control of Kensington and Chelsea despite anger over the response to the Grenfell Tower tragedy. The reason this should be noted is because of the heavy criticism that was levelled against the Tories. However, this outrage, which was made prominent by Labour and the media, was not reflected by local voters.
When it comes to the anti-Semitism problems in Labour, something that some Labour party members have called a “Tory smear”, the case was not the same. Jewish voters in Barnet proved that anti-Semitism was a real issue for them and have rejected Labour as a result.
An unnamed Labour figure told the Jewish Chronicle: “Jeremy Corbyn took the **** out of the Jewish voters of Barnet – and now he’s suffered the consequence.
“He didn’t even tell us he was coming here on Monday to campaign because I think he was scared of confrontation with locals if his visit was flagged up in advance.”
Council leader Richard Cornelius, a Conservative councillor, said he had picked up a lot of anger among Jewish voters on the doorstep.
He said the 70 percent turn-outs in favour of the Tories in Golders Green were an “impressive show of democracy.”
Adam Langleben, a Jewish Labour Councillor who lost his seat in Barnet last night called for Jeremy Corbyn to come to Barnet to apologise to the Jewish community.
Langleben told the Guardian:
“We knew this was a possibility since last night, that this was worse than the general election in 2017. Things have definitely shifted since June. Every Jewish Labour household we visited, people said, ‘not this time’.
“Activists were being told, ‘this is a racist party, an antisemitic party’, doors were slammed in their faces. We as Jewish Labour activists were told we were endorsing anti-semitism. The reason we have lost here is the inability to deal with this issue and to tackle antisemitism.
“Jeremy Corbyn was supposed to come here tomorrow for a victory speech. We want him to come to Barnet anyway, to apologise to Jewish Labour activists, to Barnet Labour and to the Jewish community here so we can start the healing process. We won this election on ideas, the Tories just ran a relentlessly negative campaign.
“But just look at the wards with high Jewish populations where we lost, East Barnet, Brunswick Park, West Hendon. The seats with even higher Jewish populations, where Labour didn’t target as hard, the Tories have huge landslides.
“The Labour leadership and people around them have seen the signs for a long time and they have not acted.
“I’m not quitting, this is about the health of our democracy. We have two parties of government in this country and one has a sickness that it needs to deal with. People need to join the party; they need to educate people and those who are antisemitic need to be immediately expelled. But first of all, the party can start by listening to Jewish activists and the community.”
Time will tell if Labour takes not of this. One thing is clear, Ken Livingstone, someone at the centre of Labour’s anti-Semitism troubles, simply does not get it.
Livingstone took it upon himself to appear on Sky News this morning and speak about the local elections. Unfortunately, he spent most of his time talking about Hitler and Zionism. He called the allegations against him a “smear” and a “distraction” and only helped to justify why Jewish voters are being turned away from the party.
I can hardly believe this, it looks like Ken Livingstone went onto @SkyNews to talk about the local elections but decided to talk about Hitler and Jews.
And he still hasn’t been expelled from the Labour Party. pic.twitter.com/lPnBfbt8Re
— James Cleverly (@JamesCleverly) May 4, 2018