Sadiq Khan is “quietly confident” of gaining Jewish voters’ support in the mayoral election, despite allegations of ‘anti-Semitism’ plaguing the party in the last two weeks.
Speaking to Jewish News on Wednesday following a visit to the Strictly Orthodox community in Stamford Hill, Khan said he hopeful but “not complacent at all” in regaining the community’s support.
Khan’s comments come following the suspension of two members, Vicki Kirby and Gerry Downing who were accused of previously making anti-Semitic remarks.
Kirby suggested in a series of social media posts that Hitler might be a “Zionist god”, Jews have “big noses” and asked why Islamic State was not attacking Israel, whilst Downing was suspended after tweeting an article whose title referred to the “Jewish question”.
Responding to these suspensions, Khan said: “I’m truly disgusted with the growing problems of anti-Semitism within the Labour Party over recent weeks”, but stressed the allegations of anti-Semitism wouldn’t affect his chances because “Londoners of the Jewish faith are so generous, and are giving me the benefit of the doubt”.
Khan called for those harbouring anti-Semitic views to be permanently kicked out of the party.
Later this week, Board of Deputies president Jonathan Arkush issued a scathing attack against the party.
Claiming ‘most Jews can’t trust Labour’, Arkush said in an interview with the Standard on Thursday that since the election of Jeremy Corbyn, the historically strong relationship between the community and Labour had been under “deep strain.”
He added: “Frankly most people in the Jewish community can’t trust Labour.”
Turning to the effect this would have upon the mayoral election, he said it was “inevitable” that the turbulence would have an impact, “despite the fact that Sadiq Khan, I say straight away, is a good candidate, who has done everything he could to distance himself from the far Left.”
The controversy within the Labour Party however “must hamper Sadiq Khan’s votes among sections of the Jewish community.”
He said Khan was “stuck with his leader” and “stuck with the stories of anti-Semitism in Labour circles.”
“However much he tries to disavow them and criticise them, he is stuck with them.”