Brian Gordon, Conservative councillor, Edgware
I have always considered the Conservative Party to be the best for serving Jewish interests. A strongly democratic society built on the foundations of a free market economy provides the most stable framework for us to practise our religion freely and be protected by law from anti-Semitic activity. Notwithstanding supporting the Conservatives, for years, I was able to recognise positive features in other mainstream parties.
I could understand why many Jews would support the Labour or Liberal parties – especially those older citizens who came to Britain as refugees and identified with working-class aspirations.
As society has changed, so have political parties.
With the forthcoming General Election in mind I now consider the Conservatives to be the only sensible option for the Jewish community.
In explaining this, let me dispose of the Liberal Democrats first.
Nick Clegg is the only party leader in recent times to declare himself an atheist, which says much about the party itself. The Lib Dems have a negative approach to faith schools.
They would undermine religion at every opportunity. Within the Lib Dems there is no shortage of “do good” animal and human rights activists who would severely restrict shechita and circumcision. The Lib Dems are the most pro-Palestinian of the mainstream parties.
They have produced obnoxious politicians like Baroness Tonge and David Ward, who have made outrageous statements against Israel with virtual impunity.
Their party is likely to be decimated at the election as a punishment for their two-faced coalition with the Conservatives. So for the foreseeable future they are likely to be consigned to the political wilderness, where they belong.
As for Labour, what concerns me even more than its policies is Ed Miliband. Miliband, although Jewish, was raised with no connection with Judaism or the Jewish community.
His connection still remains extremely tenuous.
He pronounces on Holocaust issues and against racism, but on this he is no different from other party leaders.
How much is mere lip – service is questionable.
He considers himself a friend of Israel, yet openly supported a Palestinian state in the recent Commons vote. His bitter criticism of Israel’s self-defence during the Gaza war was a piece of deplorable one-sided hypocrisy.
Miliband’s profile prompts me to observe that Jewish politicians who play down their religion are potentially damaging -– especially if they reach the highest ranks of government.
Even an openly Orthodox Jew in very high office (not that we have had one in Britain) could present hazards.
If he were to make a serious error or become unpopular, there would be the danger of an anti-Semitic backlash.
We all know that when Jewish figures achieve greatness in wider society their Jewishness is often ignored.
When they get into trouble their Jewishness becomes a headline. So from every angle, Milliband would be bad news.
What about UKIP?
Until recently its ideology did not worry me. In many ways it represented policies the current government ought to have been pursuing more strongly.
That view has changed radically with the party’s promotion of pre-stunning for animal slaughter, which would effectively outlaw shechita. This is completely anti-Jewish even if unintended.
As such UKIP has forfeited the right to Jewish support.
As for David Cameron, if one judges by his record he is as good a prime minister as our community could ever expect. He and ministers like Theresa May and Eric Pickles are passionate in exposing the horrors of neo-Nazism and countering anti-Semitism.
They have acted positively by establishing the Holocaust Commission and investing increased expenditure in Holocaust education.
Cameron is a staunch advocate for faith schools. Although there are ongoing problems concerning the regulation of such schools and excessive interference, faith education and freedom of private schools is much safer under the Conservatives than other parties.
Cameron supported Israel pretty consistently during the Gaza war, resolutely opposes Islamist terrorism and is a forthright defender of shechita and circumcision.
All self-respecting Jews can feel comfortable with the Conservatives, though there is never room for complacency.
I know my enthusiasm is not shared by all within our community. Especially among those who harbour an understandable mistrust of politicians.
To those sceptics I say: participate in the democratic process as a matter of principle, consider the Conservative Party (if you must) “the best of a bad bunch” and vote accordingly.