Jewish councillors were preparing to get down to work this week after celebrating their election in seats across the capital.
More than a third of those elected in Barnet were members of the community while Jewish candidates also triumphed in other areas with large Jewish communities including Camden and Hackney as well as regions with smaller populations like Lewisham.
On a triumphant day in London for labour which saw it take control of an additional five authorities, the Tories narrowly avoided losing overall control for the first time by just two seats. Several Orthodox candidates left the count early on Friday as Shabbat approached without any sign of their results.
Shimon Ryde – who together with Dunstan Road shul vice-chair Peter Zinkin was elected in Childs Hill following the decision of Monroe and Susette Palmer not to stand -went home when the count remained “extraordinarily close. It felt it may not be the news I was hoping for but after Shabbat someone called me saying ‘Congratulations Councillor Ryde’. It was very exciting”.
Also among those elected on the Tory side were long-term councillors Brian Gordon (Edgware) and outgoing mayor Melvin Cohen (Golders Green), who said he was “honoured and delighted” to have been elected for a ninth consecutive term alongside his son Dean.
But fellow Tory Robert Rams succumbed to the Labour tide in East Barnet in one of the biggest shocks of the poll. Among the new influx of labour members was Pro-Zion committee member Adam Langleben (West Hendon), who also works at the London Assembly as an aide to Andrew Dismore. The 27-year-old councillor said: “What we saw were huge swings towards Barnet Labour from both Conservatives and Liberal Democrats. People are in the midst of a cost of living crisis and Labour are the only ones willing to talk about it.”
While her husband, former TUC president Roger Lyons narrowly missed out on a seat, his wife Kitty edged out Tory rival Elliot Simberg by just nine votes in Hale ward. Lib Dem Jack Cohen was the only candidate from his party to win a seat in the borough. The Labour surge was also evident in Camden where the party now has 40 of the 50 candidates including Jonathan Simpson, Larraine Revah and Phil Rosenberg, the Board of Deputies’ public affairs director. Parliamentary candidate for Hampstead and Kilburn Simon Marcus was elected for the Conservatives.
Rosenberg, 28, pointed to the vibrancy of Jewish life in the area including JW3 and the Jewish Social Action hub. “I look forward to working with them and all the residents of West Hampstead to make a difference in these tough times,” he said. Also voted in were Conservatives Jonathan Bianco in Hillingdon and Harvey Odze in Hackney and Labour’s Peter Mason, who claimed last week’s results “demonstrates the support we are building from across London for Ed’s vision of One Nation Labour” .He was one of seven members of LJF’s steering group to have been elected as councillors from across the political spectrum.
However, long-term Tory representative Bernard Ausenberg lost his seat in Hackney while Labour’s Tal Ofer in Redbridge and Ukip’s Harrow chair Jeremy Zeid also missed out – leaving Nigel Farage’s still awaiting its first elected community member despite sweeping gains across the country and in Europe. Meanwhile, the Board of Deputies expressed “very serious concern” following the clear victory of the Front National in France and increased support for other far-right parties including Greece’s Golden Dawn in the European elections.
A statement said: “ In the UK, the dismissal of the British National Party is cause for some hope, but the Jewish community and others in the mainstream of politics must be absolutely resolute in actively speaking out against extremism, racism and anti-Semitism in all its forms, including rhetoric that stirs up hatred against immigrants.” The Board made no specific mention of Ukip or its surge but said: “We will be working with the UK’s elected representatives to ensure that the community’s needs and aspirations are understood and supported in Brussels and Strasbourg.”
The national swing away from the Lib Dems helped to unseat Jewish Lib Dem Baroness Sarah Ludford after 15 years as an MEP for London. Though disappointed with the result, she said: “I’m proud of what I’ve achieved particularly on Justice and Home Affairs issues such as police cooperation, fair trials and combatting trafficking.”
But she added: “I’m deeply concerned that tackling prejudice and safeguarding the interests of minority communities including Jews and Muslims – such as religious slaughter – may be set back with the rise of xenophobic and racist parties across Europe. I am also worried that the cause of free trade – and as a Vice President of Liberal Democrat Friends of Israel, I fought hard in the European Parliament against boycotts – will not have as many supporters as before.”
Shechita Uk’s Shimon Cohen said, who paid tribute to the work of Ludford and other defeated MEPs Marina Yannakoudakis and Martin Callanan – said: “Whereas we are proud to have achieved assurances on Shechita from all 4 main UK parties, we wait to see how extreme right MEP’s will align in Europe before we are able to gauge their full impact on our religious freedoms in Europe.”