The outgoing London mayor and potential future Prime Minister answers Jewish News readers’ questions on Israel, anti-Semitism, shechita and Stamford Hill buses…

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You have announced that you will shortly lead a trade delegation to Israel. What would you say to those who call for boycotts of the Jewish state?  Alan Russell, Finchley
Alan, my view is that Israel is an ally and we share many qualities, such as dynamism, entrepreneurialism and creativity, and I’m looking forward to visiting Israel to promote what our great city has to offer.

  Screen Shot 2015-03-26 at 09.46.56What more can be done to stop anti-Semitic harassment of children on their way to school?  Susan Mount, Edgware
Anti-Semitism has no place in a city like London and as with all crimes it is an issue that we, alongside the police take extremely seriously. The Police Commissioner and I agree that tackling anti-Semitism must remain a top priority for the Met and we will press for the strongest possible penalties against anyone found guilty of such offences. MOPAC (Mayor’s Office for Policing And Crime) has published its Hate Crime Reduction Strategy, which was developed in consultation with community groups, as part of our efforts to tackle this problem.  I was of course deeply disturbed by the recent incident of anti-Semitic behaviour on the 102 bus and am pleased that Transport for London were able to assist in ensuring the perpetrator was brought to justice. My office and MOPAC (Mayor’s Office for Policing And Crime) continue to meet with CST and community representatives to discuss this problem and would urge all Jewish Londoners to report any harassment so that action can be taken. 

Screen Shot 2015-03-26 at 09.46.56The number 73 bus, which passed the Stamford Hill area until lower Tottenham, had its route changed by TFL. As the 73 is based at the Rookwood road bus garage in Stamford Hill, why is it that the bus cuts short its route instead of continuing to drive through Stamford Hill and park in the garage which would be very helpful to residents?  Yoli Kline, Stamford Hill
The change was made based upon the number of bus routes that serve the area. I am pleased to say that routes 67, 76, 149, 243 and 476 provide the connection between Stoke Newington and Stamford Hill at a combined frequency of 44 buses per hour, or a bus every one to two minutes. The change to the 73 route only affected 2.5 per cent of passenger journeys on the route because of another route, 476, to links areas north of Stoke Newington such as Tottenham, Seven Sisters, and Stamford Hill directly with Islington, Kings Cross and Euston.  Am pleased to say Route 76 (Waterloo – Tottenham) has recently been extended to the new Tottenham Hale Bus Station which give new links between Tottenham Hale Station (on the Victoria tube line and Greater Anglia line to Stansted Airport) and Stamford Hill, Stoke Newington and Dalston Junction.

Screen Shot 2015-03-26 at 09.46.56You are clearly an admirer of Churchill’s leadership and political philosophy. If you become a senior cabinet minister or even took on the top job in the future, which Churchillian qualities will you try to bring to the job?  Jeremy Havardi, Mill Hill
Churchill was a political titan, who led this country to success against what many believed were desperate odds. He was played a leading role in the foundation of what would become the modern State of Israel. The great man had boldness, energy, dedication, dynamism and a willingness to stick to his guns on issues he believed. These are surely attributes we should all adhere to. No one even comes close to him. I’d be delighted if I managed to bring even a fraction of these attributes to the job of delivering on my mandate as Mayor of London.

Screen Shot 2015-03-26 at 09.46.56Would Sol Campbell make a good Mayor of London?  Amy Franklin, Hendon
Amy, I wouldn’t presume to blight the career of any potential Mayoral candidate by heaping praise on them or offering an endorsement. The truth is I don’t know Sol personally, but I want the widest possible field of experience from which Londoners can choose their next Mayor, and Sol would I am sure be a welcome addition to that field should he stand. London does of course need a Conservative Mayor, so Sol’s made the best possible start with the right choice of party! 

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Where do you stand on labelling of meat to indicate the method of slaughter? George Karp, Camden
My broad view is that, provided all food products are clearly labelled, it should be left to consumers to decide what they wish to buy.

Screen Shot 2015-03-26 at 09.46.56Did you ever dream as a child of becoming PM and, while you want David Cameron to lead the country after the election, how do you feel to see your name linked to the role in the media?  Daniel Marchant, by email
Daniel, my friend the Prime Minister will I am sure be the Prime Minister for many years to come, and thank goodness for that! That’s what this country needs, and I’m working flat out to bring that about and to deliver for Londoners as Mayor. 

Screen Shot 2015-03-26 at 09.46.56We are a professional couple in our 30s and aspire to become homeowners. We rent a small flat from a private landlord and would like to save for a deposit for a property in Barnet near our jobs and family, but rising rents and house prices mean we will never be able to purchase a home on the open market. Your schemes give unfair priority to social housing tenants. As contributors to the London economy, what recommendations do you have for getting on the housing ladder and out of the rental trap? Saskya Monchar, N12
While a family in social housing moving into low cost home ownership will means a much needed home is released for a family on a waiting list, fewer than ten per cent of my First Steps homes are sold to people within these groups. This means nine out of ten properties are going to Londoners around the capital. I am supporting the creation of enough First Steps homes to help 50,000 Londoners into home ownership and all will be advertised on the First Steps portal www.sharetobuy.com/firststeps. I am also setting ambitious plans to do even more, including more funding, with the aim of helping 250,000 Londoners into home ownership by 2025.

Screen Shot 2015-03-26 at 09.46.56In light of recent events at SOAS University, how do you respond to the increasingly hostile atmosphere facing Jewish students in some of our nation’s universities? Gideon Harris, Golders Green
 The strongest possible action should be taken against any individuals or organisations that seek to bring hatred and intolerance to our campuses. It is absolutely critical that students who are experience anti-Semitism or feel under threat report it to their faculty and to the police if necessary.

Screen Shot 2015-03-26 at 09.46.56What is your view of faith schools? Susan Marston, Hatch End
I am supportive of a school system that responds to the needs of parents and children, but which is academically rigorous. It is vital that all our schools ensure our young people are equipped with the knowledge and skills they will need to get good jobs or get into university and are able to compete at the very highest levels when they leave school. Faith schools in the main have an important role in education provision and many of the most successful ones are those that, as well as offering a high quality, broad-based academic curriculum, seek to imbue their pupils with spiritual guidance that gives them direction and a sense of discipline. 

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Your 16-year-old daughter informs you she is leaving for Syria to join IS. What would you do? Rabbi Natan Levy
IS represents a twisted and perverted ideology of hate that is abhorred by the vast majority of Muslims across the world. It’s a perversion that seeks to glorify violence, that beheads aid workers and journalists, that violates and abuses women, that throws people from the tops of buildings simply because they Of their sexual orientation. There is nothing glorious in that. Whilst it is vital that we use our fantastic intelligence services and our dedicated and brilliant police officers to help tackle the radicalisation of young people, parents have a fundamental role to play in preventing their children becoming radicalised. At City Hall we are working closely with the MET, the boroughs and Muslim community leaders but parents must take a lead, as I am sure they are doing and will continue to do just that. 

Screen Shot 2015-03-26 at 09.46.56Have you ever experienced anti-Semitism yourself after talking about your Jewish ancestors? Matthew Sherman, Shenley
Matthew, I am a mish-mash of world heritage, with Muslim, Jewish and Christian forebears, and I’m proud of that, just as I’m proud of the rich cultural and ethnic diversity of the city I lead. That’s why, although I have not personally experienced hate crime against myself it is an issue I take extremely seriously and will continue to work with the police and the community to tackle. London is a tolerant and just city open to all, anyone who seeks to try and change that through hate and intimidation with be tackled and punished to the fullest extent possible under the law.