The home of Jewish landmarks such as JW3 and St John’s Wood Synagogue, voters in Hampstead and Kilburn have an all-female choice when it comes to the main parties’ candidates. Labour’s Tulip Siddiq had a slender 1,138 majority in 2015.
Kirsty Allan Liberal Democrats
Kirsty Allan has worked in the offices of veteran Liberal Democrat politicians, including Lynne Featherstone and Norman Lamb, but is ready to step into the limelight.
“It’s no good standing on the sidelines feeling aggrieved at your country heading in a direction that you don’t like. Democracy is about participation; if you want change, then you have to work for it, so I am,” she says.
Allan says a vote for her would be backing for a “committed local MP that works hard on behalf of everyone, who listens to their concerns and represents their concerns in Westminster, who is available to them and does whatever I can to help. That means being active in the community, working closely with local groups, and responding to residents’ needs. ”
She says the government, MPs and media must do more to tackle rising anti-Semitism and hate crime, which she says has, “to a degree”, been fostered by the Brexit vote.
Allan expresses support for properly-funded faith schooling, adding: “I understand the very important and formative role faith schools play in not only providing an excellent education, but also in teaching kids about their own faith, culture and identity, even though my personal preference is for children to be educated in a multi-faith environment as I believe it helps to encourage greater tolerance and understanding of different faiths and practices at a young age. To my mind, that can only help in creating a more tolerant, accepting and inclusive community.”
Claire-Louise Leyland, Conservative
Conservative councillor and leader of the opposition on Camden Council, Claire-Louise Leyland is looking to narrow the gap in Hampstead and Kilburn. Labour held a majority of just 1,158 in 2015 and Leyland says she is ready to step up from local politics.
“I have enjoyed living and working here for the past 13 years. I’ve represented our diverse community and fought hard for the things people care about,” she says.
“I’ve run campaigns against the HS1-2 link, over-development, Labour’s bin chaos, supported parents who wanted to set up free schools, and I fought to keep libraries open. I’m now standing as part of Theresa May’s team, because I know she is the right person to lead our country and I can ensure our voices are heard in Westminster. ”
A Tory government, Leyland says, would continue to support the community on issues of security, shechita and schools. “I’m a great believer in the faith schools that form part of the fabric of our educational landscape. Every parent who wants to send their child to faith school should have the opportunity to, and if that means creating more school places, then I’m a supporter of that. I am really proud there are two Jewish primary schools in Hampstead and Kilburn, which serve the community,” she says.
But she adds that there is always more that can be done. “The Conservative government’s pledge on security for Jewish schools and community centres is welcome, and I would be a tireless advocate for the community to ensure this is reviewed as regularly as necessary, alongside working closely with the Community Security Trust locally and nationally to combat anti-Semitism. We also need a strategy for tackling online anti-Semitism, which the proliferation of social media has made far more prevalent.
“The Conservative government has a strong track record in tackling anti-Semitism wherever it is found and, as MP for Hampstead and Kilburn, I would ensure we continue to do everything possible to combat it, and keep the Jewish community safe.”
Tulip Siddiq, Labour
Tulip Siddiq slipped into the big shoes left by Labour stalwart Glenda Jackson at the last election and is looking to hold the marginal seat.
She has many happy memories from her first term as MP, “from singing with residents at Spring Grove care home for Mitzvah Day, to my lively question and answer sessions at Shomrei Hadath and Hampstead Synagogue”. Her highlight so far was interviewing Professor Yehuda Bauer at JW3.
But while she is proud of her relations with local rabbis and community leaders, her support for fighting anti-Semitism on and offline, she recognises the community feels let down by Labour, particularly in the aftermath of Ken Livingstone’s Hitler and Zionism comments. “He has trashed his own record,” she says. “He brought great offence to the Jewish community and I cannot tolerate his presence in our party any longer.”
Looking back on a difficult 18 months, Siddiq says: “Reassurances have not been given to the community as quickly as they should have been, and if I could go back in time, I would step in and suggest a wholly different course. However, Jeremy Corbyn is pitching his vision for a fairer society at this election, and I believe his policies for the health service and our education system are something the Jewish community could comfortably support.”
Asked if she had any regrets over nominating Corbyn for the Labour leadership in 2015, she says: “I nominated Jeremy to ensure the widest possible debate for Labour members. In the second leadership contest, I supported his opponent, Owen Smith – it would therefore be bizarre to revert to my position of two years before. However, it is now pleasing to see the Labour family has come together to take our case to the British public.
“For all the focus on Corbyn, the Government has done a pretty horrific job in managing our health service, our economy and of course, the Brexit process. Local residents know it will be my name on the ballot paper and that I will continue to give them a strong voice in Parliament, whoever our party leader is.”
Also seeking election in this constituency: Green Party: John Mansook; Independent: Hugh Easterbrook; Independent: Rainbow: George Weiss.