OPINION: We had to stand up to Councillor Plancey

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

OPINION: We had to stand up to Councillor Plancey

Councillors Christian Gray and Chris Myers challenge Rabbi Alan Plancey's views on the LGBT community and claim they are now being 'unjustly targeted'

Cllr Gray and Cllr Myers
Cllr Gray and Cllr Myers

When a young gay Jewish man sent us a video report entitled ‘Loud, Proud and Jewish’ made by a Jewish LGBTQ+ organisation and this newspaper, back in 2014, we watched in discomfort at the language and tropes voiced by Councillor Rabbi Alan Plancey, a man with whom we disagree on most things but had always respected for his civic work. Given his candidacy for mayor of Hertsmere, we couldn’t remain silent.

Councillor Plancy denies being homophobic and has sought to explain the video by saying that he was not giving his own views, but was instead explaining the orthodox view to the film-makers. However, Councillor Plancey’s language crossed the line from religious teachings into statements which we consider to be hurtful, offensive and homophobic

We cannot comment on intent.  However, as queer councillors we live daily with the hurtful effect of such language.

We were privileged to be elected as Labour councillors last May, beating all expectations by winning a solid Tory ward.  Many people of faith supported us.  We unequivocally support the right to hold religious beliefs.  We know how much faith communities contribute to the enrichment of local civic life.

Our Jewish communities play an awesome role in that civic engagement. It is inspiring to see. We’ve stood against antisemitism within our own party and beyond. We attended the Labour Friends of Israel fringes at party conference and were proud to meet with its then chair, former MP, Louise Ellman. We’ve enjoyed meeting Jewish people and learning about the beauty of the plurality that exists inside the Jewish community.

Tory colleagues sought to excuse the views articulated by Councillor Plancey due to his age.  We do understand that Councillor Plancey’s stance may be generational. We would have welcomed the chance to sit with him to explain the deep hurt and anguish his words have caused. The damage that being told to “be quiet and unobtrusive” does to young LGBTQ+ people cannot be overestimated, especially when articulated by a well-respected community leader.

Cllr Alan Plancey with the Mayoral chains.

The controlling Conservative group at Hertsmere could have initiated LGBTQ+ inclusivity training for Councillor Plancey.  Instead, every single Tory councillor voted for him to become mayor.  Our objections were censored.  Even then, we were hopeful that the damage could have been repaired.  Sadly, matters escalated. One of his first acts as mayor Councillor Plancey used an interview with BBC Three Counties Radio to double down on his rhetoric, stating that “we are against the act not the individualand “I don’t want them to come and tell me I’m not living a proper life or that my children should be gay”.

We are now being threatened with a libel claim by Councillor Plancey.  The claim makes accusations of antisemitism towards us – they are false.  More importantly, they harm the ongoing struggle against genuine antisemitism at a critical time. As two gay men working alongside our Orthodox Jewish group leader Councillor Jeremy Newmark, we are deeply sad at being unjustly targeted for calling this out.  However, since speaking out last week, we have been inundated with support from Hertsmere residents, overwhelmingly from the local LGBTQ+ and Jewish communities. We have had supportive messages from local Conservatives.

We won’t be deterred from working to improve community relations. This commitment is strengthened by the humbling and deeply moving solidarity of the Jewish and LGBTQ+ community towards us.

We have had extremely productive discussions with community leader Cantor Sarah Grabiner of Radlett Reform Synagogue about starting a Hertsmere LGBTQ+ safe space.  We have learned about the more sensitive approaches to LGBTQ+ issues taken by other Orthodox and Charedi leaders, such as those published by Yehudis Fletcher writing in this newspaper.

In the words of the late Labour MP Jo Cox, “We are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us”.  This is a message we will never forget.  Love will always conquer hate.

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...


Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.


There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.


In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.


Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish News also produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more: