Candidates from four parties clashed last night over antisemitism and transport policy during a lively London Assembly hustings for Brent and Harrow.
Representing Labour, Cllr Krupesh Hirani opened by accepting the “hurt and distress that people feel towards my party as a result of the antisemitism that has mired us over the past few years.”
He admitted that some residents “felt they could still not vote for a Labour candidate”, but reiterated his firm support for the ten commitments featured in the Jewish Manifesto for London 2021.
In a fiery retort, Alan Mendoza, who spoke on behalf of Conservative candidate Molly Samuel-Leport, queried why Cllr Hirani’s ward colleague, Cllr Aslam Choudry, had shared a video promoting antisemitic tropes just last year.
“This reminds us that for all the good people like Councillor Hirani, there appear to be people with a problem with antisemitism still in the Labour Party, well beyond Jeremy Corbyn’s time,” Mendoza said.
Cllr Hirani responded by praising the change of leadership with Keir Starmer who was “working with Jewish community groups to renew the process on how these matters are handled.”
However, he refused to “police cases or comment on individual cases, because this is a matter for the disciplinary process and even the police.”
The Dudden Hill ward representative added: “I will conduct myself with the highest regard as your London Assembly member. Where I see instances of antisemitism I will personally report them.”
Mendoza later responded by accusing Cllr Hirani of “hiding behind process and not taking a stand”.
Green Party candidate Emma Wallace was also challenged on why her party had still not adopted the IHRA definition of antisemitism. Wallace promised it was still in the “pipeline” and would be voted on in due course.
Monday’s hustings were organised by the London Jewish Forum in partnership with the Board of Deputies and Jewish Leadership Council. Jewish News was the evening’s media sponsor, with the debate moderated by political editor Lee Harpin.
On transport, the candidates clashed on extending the congestion charge and tackling climate change in the city.
Liberal Democratc candidate Cllr Anton Georgiou blamed successive mayors for allowing a “toxic air crisis” to envelope London, noting the unsafe levels of pollution around the North Circular. He pledged to reform the congestion charge into a “fairer pay as you go” system.
Both Labour and the Conservatives opposed extending the congestion charge to the North Circular, with Mendoza labelling this a “stealth tax”, although Green Party candidate Emma Wallace argued in favour of the expansion. The candidates all agreed on the urgent need to remove polluting vehicles and introduce an electric bus network.
Other topics covered included supporting London’s businesses post-Covid, with Hirani advocating a “1945-style recovery” centred around jobs and Mendoza warning that London was at risk of turning into a “commercial wasteland” without the free movement of people and goods.
The need for affordable housing was also raised with Liberal Democrat Cllr Georgiou slamming Khan, Johnson and Livingstone for “successive failings on affordable homes”.
The 26-year-old admitted he had never been able to afford to move out of his family home in Brent.
You can re-watch the recording of the hustings here:
Brent and Harrow Jewish Community HustingsJoin us live at the Jewish Community Hustings for the upcoming London Assembly Election in Brent and Harrow.This event is being hosted by the London Jewish Forum in partnership with Pinner United Synagogue, Mosaic Synagogue, Stanmore and Cannons Park United Synagogue, Belmont Synagogue, Kol Chai Reform Synagogue, The Ark Synagogue, Brondesbury Park United Synagogue and Kenton United Synagogue, Board of Deputies, Jewish Leadership Council and the Jewish News.
Posted by The Jewish News on Thursday, April 29, 2021
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