Theresa May has hailed Conservative “success” in Barnet during the Local Elections, saying people “rejected the vile anti-Semitism” in Labour.
In Barnet, there was clear evidence of voters from the area’s large Jewish community turning their backs on Labour after the party became embroiled in allegations of anti-Semitism.
Speaking in Barnet after the Tories’ win, May said “people of all faiths have rejected the vile anti-Semitism that has gone unchallenged in the Labour Party for too long”.
Mrs May was greeted by cheering supporters in Barnet, where congratulated Conservative Cllrs who were newly-elected, and paid tribute to MPs Mike Freer (Finchley and Golders Green), Matthew Offord (Hendon) and Theresa Villiers (Chipping Barnet) for their support.
The Tories made concerted efforts to target wards with large Jewish populations in the wake of the controversy. The breakthrough came when they made a clean sweep in one of those wards – Hale – taking a seat off Labour in the process and increasing their vote in the ward by almost 2,800.
"People of all faiths have rejected the vile anti-Semitism that has gone unchallenged in the Labour Party for too long" @theresa_may speaking to Barnet councillors #Election2018 pic.twitter.com/nrXHEPyjXC
— BBC Daily Politics and Sunday Politics (@daily_politics) May 4, 2018
The crushing blow came when the Conservatives took all three seats in West Hendon, a long-time Labour stronghold.Labour group leader Barry Rawlings said: “I must say that in some wards where there is a large Jewish community, it has made a difference.”
He added: “Of course the Tories did go hard in those areas on that issue, saying that if you vote Labour you’re voting for Jeremy Corbyn.
‘”But to be honest most of the conversations (with voters) have been about potholes rather than anti-Semitism. That said, we want people to know it is an issue we take very seriously in the Labour Party.”
Conservative chairman Brandon Lewis said voters were being turned off by “hard abuse from some of the hard left, that anti-Semitism problem that Labour clearly have got and are just not dealing with”.
Mr Lewis hailed “a good night” for Tories, with Labour not gaining a single council in London.
“Eight years into a government, Labour was losing 4,000 councillors, whereas we at the moment are holding councils and in some areas making positive inroads,” he said.