Meet the candidates for Harrow East

Meet the candidates for Harrow East

This North London constituency has a declining Jewish population, but holds important landmarks for the community such as Stanmore shul and JFS

Marc Shoffman is a freelance journalist

Stanmore Hill
Stanmore Hill

The Jewish population of Harrow East may be declining but it’s still an important constituency for the community, encompassing locations such as Stanmore Synagogue and JFS.

This is traditionally a semi-marginal seat, but Bob Blackman increased his majority by 5.7 percent to 24,668 at the 2015 poll, 4,757 votes ahead of Labour.

Bob Blackman – Conservative

Bob Blackman is looking to secure a third term from voters and, as a vice-chairman of the all-party parliamentary groups for Israel and anti-Semitism, he feels he is best placed to represent the community’s needs.

He says: “I could quote being in Israel at the time of Operation Protective Edge as demonstrating my support for Israel, or leading a debate in parliament on the rights of the Jewish community regarding the practice of shechita as being important moments.

“I remain 100 percent committed to supporting Israel as a Jewish state against all the critics and also in defending the Jewish way of life within our multi-religious community.”

Blackman highlights the UK government’s rebuking of the UN Human Rights Council in March for anti-Israel bias as evidence of support for the community and Jewish State.

 Bob Blackman
Bob Blackman

“I feel this marks a strengthening of the partnership that has historically existed between Israel and the UK, but which some previous governments have taken for granted,” he explains.

“As well as leading a proudly pro-Israel government, Theresa May is the only leader capable of taking the strong stance that will make it clear that anti-Semitism has no place in our society.”

Schools and security are hot topics in most constituencies and Blackman has expressed support for more faith schools after JFS increased places due to overwhelming demand and says he would want to see the new government commit to making a pool of security funding readily available specifically for the prevention of anti-Semitic crimes.

Blackman adds: “This remains a hot-button topic that deserves far more attention that it is getting. It is absolutely crucial that the Jewish community in the UK receives protection and that schools and synagogues are given adequate support as a priority.”

Adam Bernard – Lib Dems

The Liberal Democrats came fourth in 2015 and activist Adam Bernard is looking to reverse the party’s fortunes.

A research fellow at Queen Mary University, Bernard says there should be more MPs with scientific expertise.

Adam Bernard
Adam Bernard

He explains: “I’ve been fortunate to grow up in an era more or less free from extremist nationalism, but it seems clear to me now that this isn’t going to continue without politicians who make it continue.

“At a personal level, I’d like to see more MPs with scientific expertise. I think some of the recent failures in areas such as internet regulation and drugs policy could have been avoided with more scientifically-literate decision-makers.”

He was among the many Liberal Democrat candidates who supported the sacking of David Ward, adding: “As a liberal party, we abhor anti-Semitism, along with bigotry of all varieties. We are proposing that when crimes are motivated by such hatred, this should always be treated as an aggravating factor.

“While we don’t believe it’s the place of government to police people’s beliefs, we will work closely with non-governmental anti-extremism organisations to encourage active harmony between communities.”

Navin Shah – Labour

Former Harrow Council leader and a London Assembly member, Navin Shah has been part of the fabric of the constituency for the past 40 years.

He knows the importance of faith schools, having supported the first-ever government-funded Hindu school in Harrow.

Shah says he has been concerned with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s approach to tacking anti-Semitism but insists the community can still trust the party, adding that he would support the expulsion of Ken Livingstone over the Hitler and Zionism remarks.

He explains : “The story of the Jewish community’s relationship with the Labour Party mirrors my own Hindu Indian community. The Labour Party were the only party that supported us to this country, nurtured our politics and enabled our children to have better lives than those who came before us.

Navin Shah
Navin Shah

“I understand that the Jewish community’s trust in Labour has been shaken over the past two years. However, I also know that, locally, Harrow Labour have always stood side by side in support of Labour Jews. Our record locally and indeed my own demonstrate our commitment to rid the Labour Party of bigotry against Jews.”

He says he would support letting parents of voluntary-aided schools claim Gift Aid and put security funding on a firmer financial footing.

He adds: “We are entering the most decisive period of decision-making in my lifetime in negotiating a final Brexit deal. I respect the outcome of the referendum result, but if elected I will not support a hard Brexit which will hurt the people of Harrow.

“I believe in a fairer immigration system which maintains our status as an open and welcoming society while understanding that careful controls are required which will benefit other Europeans who work here and Commonwealth citizens from further afield.”

Also running in this constituency: Emma Wallace; Green Party

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