Tory calls for Yom Kippur election ban

By Marcus Dysch, October 3, 2008

A candidate in an election being held on Yom Kippur has called on the government to add the Jewish calendar's holiest day to a list of dates on which polling is banned.

The JC revealed a fortnight ago that Haringey Council had angered Jewish voters by choosing October 9 for a by-election in its Alexandra ward.

Conservative Party candidate David Douglas says he was "appalled" by the North London authority's decision and has written to Justice Minister Jack Straw to ask for a change in the law.

Christmas Day, Good Friday and weekends are already listed as dies non - days on which an election cannot be scheduled.

Mr Douglas said Yom Kippur and other religious holidays should be added to the list to "prevent this sort of farce happening again".

Councillor Lorna Reith, Labour's deputy leader in Haringey, said Mr Douglas's plans were "worth exploring".

But she added: "If you start adding in Jewish festivals, there will be pressure to add others that then restrict the democratic process. In practice, it could be difficult to implement."

A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Justice, which is responsible for election legislation, said any law change would require a lengthy parliamentary process.

The Yom Kippur poll will also feature the first British National Party candidate to stand in the borough.
Builder Frederick Halsey said he was born in the 1960s when London "was very different to how it is today" and described himself as "a family man with four children".

He added: "There is a lot of crime in London and, though the police try very hard, they have their hands tied by political correctness."

Lynne Featherstone, Liberal Democrat MP for Hornsey and Wood Green, said she was "horrified" by Mr Halsey's candidacy. "Any party whose fundamental message is one of hate is unlikely to strike a chord with voters in Haringey," she said.


Last updated: 11:19am, October 2 2008