The Conservatives took control of Barnet Council at the Local Elections, as numerous Jewish Labour candidates were hit hard by the party’s anti-Semitism row.
In Labour target Barnet, the Tories took all three seats in Hale ward, keeping two and taking one from Labour, and all three in West Hendon ward. Both wards have a large Jewish population.
In West Hendon, Jewish Labour candidate Adam Langleben lost his seat, while the Conservatives won more than 45 percent of the vote to Labour’s 43 percent. In Hale, Liron Velleman fell short, as the Conservatives took 49 percent of the vote to Labour’s 37. Meanwhile, in East Barnet ward, Phillip Cohen fell short of being elected, despite getting 2,400 votes.
Conservative candidate Elliot Simberg, who missed out on a seat in 2014 in Hale Ward, Barnet, found success this year with more than 3,000 votes. Simberg is a school governor, who sits on the police community action panel and is a trustee of the Jewish Youth Fund
There were some successes for Jewish Labour candidates however, with Rabbi Danny Rich successfully being elected in West Finchley, a Barnet ward, with over 2,000 votes. Sarah Conway was also elected in Burnt Oak ward, garnering the most votes with more than 2,400.
Barnet Labour group leader Barry Rawlings said the anti-semitism row had “made a difference”. The area of North London, which has a Jewish population of around 16%, has been a key battleground for both the Conservatives and Labour, particularly in light of the latter’s recent difficulties over anti-Semitism allegations within the party.
Rawlings said he expected to see the allegations make an impact on some of the wards with particularly large Jewish populations, such as Childs Hill and Hale, although Labour only held one of six seats across the two wards going into the election.
“I must say that in some wards where there is a large Jewish community, it (the anti-semitism issue) has made a difference, I’m not sure yet how much. Of course the Tories did go hard in those areas on that issue, saying that if you vote Labour you’re voting for Jeremy Corbyn.
“But to be honest most of the conversations (with voters) have been about potholes rather than anti-semitism. That said, we want people to know it is an issue we take very seriously in the Labour party.”
The Jewish Labour Movement Ivor Caplin issued a statement on Twitter following the Barnet result, saying: “For the second time within a year, England has seen the electoral impact of the Labour Party’s problem with anti-Semitism. For the Party of anti-racism to lose seats because of antisemitism is a sad chapter in our proud history JLM will be meeting with Jennie Formby next week and will be urgently raising this.”
Langleben, one of three Labour incumbent candidates to lose their post in West Hendon ward, Barnet, took to Twitter following the result.
He thanked his supporters, adding that “it was the greatest honour of my life to serve West Hendon
“We must NEVER have another election like this”.
Outgoing councillor Adam Langleben, who also sits on the national executive committee of Jewish Labour Movement, added: “No community group should have their vote dictated by their safety. That should shame us @UKLabour.”
Meanwhile, Labour MP John Mann, an outspoken critic of Jeremy Corbyn, tweeted: “Those who called anti Semitism a smear cost Labour badly last night. A Jewish member for more than 60 years told me on the doorstep he couldn’t vote Labour in Barnet yesterday.”
The Conservatives had two incumbent councillors, Shimon Ryde and Peter Zinkin, re-elected in Childs Hill, Barnet, following a recount. The ward encompasses areas such as Brent Cross, Golders Hill Park and Finchley Road.
Jack Cohen, who has represented the Childs Hill ward since 1986 and was Mayor of Barnet in 2000, lost his seat, with just over 1,200 votes.
Elsewhere, the Tories took Kersal in Salford, Manchester, a ward thought to have the largest Jewish population with 41 percent of the electorate.