Conservative candidate for Finchley and Golders Green Mike Freer has defended his comments reported in the Jewish News that he is better placed to represent the Jewish community than his Jewish Labour rival.
During a hustings event at North West Reform synagogue on Thursday night, Freer, defended his remarks, saying: “In the Commons the most ardent arguers against any form of delegitimisation of Israel and anti-Semitism, any form of discrimination; you’ll find at the very front of the argument are non-Jewish MPs.”
He also paid tribute to John Mann, chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group Against Anti-Semitism, of which Freer is a vice-chair. He added: “With my hand on my heart I am fighting against anti-Semitism. It’s what I believe in, and it’s what my constituents believe in. Being able to have that strong blend of constituency interest and personal interests puts me in a strong position to fight for my Jewish constituents.”
Freer’s Labour opponent Sarah Sackman, who was two points ahead of her Tory rival in a recent poll of voting intentions, responded by saying: “If I am elected I look forward to representing those of all faiths and no faiths. Sackman added: “I don’t think that a Jewish MP would represent the interests of Finchley and Golders Green, including the large Jewish community, any less effectively than a non-Jewish MP.”
Liberal Democrat candidate Jonathan Davies remarked that while Finchley and Golders Green had a large Jewish community (roughly 20%), it also has a large Christian, Hindu Muslim and atheist population. He said that although he would bring his Jewish values into politics, the local MP “must represent the entirety of the constituency.”
All five candidates were present, including Adele Ward of the Greens and Richard King of UKIP.
Watch highlights of the debate below…
Video credit: Barnet Bugle