By Tessa Jowell, running to be Labour’s candidate for Mayor of London
Anti-Semitic hatred has no place in London. Everything that makes our city great comes from our desire to get along with one another – to live, work and make friends with one another – no matter who we are or where we come from. That is the tolerance hard-wired into the character of London. For those who try to turn us against each other, there is no place for you in our city. You are not welcome.
On 4th July, several anti-Semitic groups plan to hold a demonstration in Golders Green. Everything about the event is geared towards inciting hatred of Jews – the location, the day of the week (4th July is Shabbat), the loathsome language. It couldn’t be any more plain to see. This is an intentional and appalling attempt to intimidate, vilify and frighten the Jewish community.
This is a campaign of racism and hatred.
Thankfully, we have laws to protect us against this kind of horror. The Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006 gives police the power to arrest and charge those who incite hatred towards people because of their race or religion. Can there be a clearer example? Anyone who has had the misfortune to see the disgusting images and text advertising the event online would be in no doubt. The police have the right – and the responsibility – to take action.
Andrew Dismore, the Labour Assembly Member for Barnet and Camden, has called on the Mayor of London to direct the Metropolitan Police to ban the demonstration. He has also written to the Met to point out the horrific online material and to demand that they press charges. I am joining Andrew in making these demands, and have written to the Met’s Commissioner to that effect. The authorities must not flinch from their duties. They must use every power available to ensure this rally does not take place, and those inciting racial hatred are brought to justice.
I expect the police to take their duties seriously – and they should be launching investigations and bringing charges against all those who have been distributing anti-Semitic materials in advance of this demonstration. This march should not go ahead – but if it does the police should also take a zero-tolerance approach on the day, and all those who contravene the laws on inciting racial hatred should face prosecution under the full force of the law. And I will be there to make sure they do.
The racism and intolerance that this march represents run utterly counter to everything our city should be about. Those behind this rally are trying to poison community relations, to turn Londoner against Londoner. They will fail, because of our resilience as Londoners. But we need to be clear that there is absolutely no space for them in our public life. Let’s speak with one voice – the voice of One London – and tell these hate-fuelled bigots that London doesn’t want them.