Ukip European triumph is ‘good news for shechita’

By Marcus Dysch and Jonathan Kalmus, May 29, 2014
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Nigel Farage (Photo: AP)

Nigel Farage (Photo: AP)

Ukip’s victory in the European elections could aid the campaign to protect shechita and Jewish religious practices, experts have claimed.

The party surged to see 24 MEPs elected and 27.5 per cent of the vote secured as Labour and the Conservatives were overtaken. The Liberal Democrats were left with just one MEP after a catastrophic set of results.

The success of Nigel Farage and his colleagues sparked concern among British Jews, based on polling conducted by the JC last year which showed Ukip supporters were more hostile to religious slaughter than those of any other political party in Britain.

But Shimon Cohen, Shechita UK director, insisted Ukip was “supportive” of the campaign to protect the production of kosher meat.

He said: “Ukip’s record on shechita has been both favourable and consistent. Our objection to various European regulations which would have interfered with shechita fits comfortably with their disdain for European regulation of any kind.

“As a result we have had a series of positive meetings with Nigel Farage and Stuart Agnew, Ukip’s spokesman on agricultural issues.”

Labour activists moved to downplay the significance of 15 of the party’s 20 newly elected MEPs having pledged to adopt anti-Israel policies in Brussels.

The five points included a promise to end “all trade with Israeli settlements” — a position at odds with party leader Ed Miliband who has repeatedly said he opposes boycotts.

One Labour insider said efforts would be made to ensure the new MEPs toe the party line when voting in the European Parliament, but conceded that a “lack of discipline” among members in Brussels could become “problematic”.

The party’s successful candidates included Julie Ward in the north-west region. She apologised days ahead of the election last week after using her Twitter account to promote an image of dead children alongside the description: “The holocaust in Palestine.”

Ms Ward had said that if elected to Brussels she would be “representing the people of Palestine”.

Afzal Khan, co-founder of Manchester’s Muslim-Jewish Forum, and a fellow signatory of the pledges, was also elected. He told the JC he was committed to defending shechita and halal, but refused to be drawn on his policies towards Israel.

“Palestine is difficult. My bottom line is that I am committed to see the issue resolved,” said Mr Khan. “I will be raising what I think are suitable policies to help achieve a settlement. I want to see peace between Israelis and Palestinians which I think is a huge cloud over Muslim-Jewish relations in the world.”

Anti-shechita Liberal Democrat MEP Chris Davies lost his seat in the north-west region.

The British National Party lost both of its MEPs, leader Nick Griffin in the north-west and Andrew Brons in Yorkshire. The party finished ninth nationally, but saw its votes drop by five per cent compared to the 2009 elections.

Following his defeat, Mr Griffin claimed BNP voters had switched to support Ukip. He appeared to admit his own party had what many would see as “racist” views, but claimed Mr Farage’s party held “racist policies” which had attracted former BNP supporters.

Mr Farage has previously claimed to have done more than anyone to damage the BNP.

The Liberal Democrats also lost Baroness Ludford, vice-president of the party’s Friends of Israel group, who was ousted as an MEP in London.

The Conservative MEP Marina Yannakoudakis, who has repeatedly defended Israel and raised issues of importance to Jewish voters, was also defeated in the capital.

Dan Sames, a Jewish Tory candidate in the West Midlands region, failed in his bid to be elected. Labour’s Alex Mayer, whose grandparents escaped Nazi persecution during the Holocaust, also missed out in the Eastern region.

Last updated: 5:33pm, May 29 2014