William Hague's kosher Hendon experience

By Marcus Dysch, March 11, 2010

It is not every day the Shadow Foreign Secretary tucks in to chicken schnitzel and chips at a kosher restaurant.

The White House in Hendon is a rather different establishment to the South Yorkshire pubs where a teenage William Hague supped pints.

But he made the most of his experience in north London on Monday evening, munching on dishes including cigarim, matbucha, pitta and hummus.

The appearance of one of the country's most recognisable politicians attracted little attention from fellow diners. Most ignored the coterie of party flunkeys crowded round Mr Hague's table hanging on his every word.

One scamp asked how a Tory government might approach the issue of shechita legislation. Mr Hague grinned cheekily and responded: "It was a very good dinner."

At the White House he munched on pitta and hummus

After polishing off the schnitzel he was off to his main speaking engagement - a Conservative Friends of Israel event organised to support the Tories' Hendon parliamentary candidate Matthew Offord.

During a brisk walk down a windy Brent Street, Mr Hague's only obstacle came not from interested constituents, but the traffic, negotiating roadworks.

It was the greatest challenge he faced all evening: the mini drinks reception before his speech was crowded with supporters queuing excitedly for photographs and handshakes.

He largely told them what they wanted to hear, discussing issues ranging from resolving the universal jurisdiction conundrum to tackling Iran's nuclear threat.

Out came all the buzzwords: "I understand the extraordinary achievements of Israel and its strategic fragility. The situation in the Middle East is darkening. We will have no truck with terror groups."

He called the government's handling of the Tzipi Livni arrest warrant issue "ridiculous", "embarrassing" and "disappointing", and pledged that a Tory administration would "put it right" and "act speedily".

One questioner challenged Mr Hague on his previous rebukes of Israel. During the 2006 Lebanon War he criticised Israel's "disproportionate" response to Hizbollah attacks.

Diplomatically he replied: "During Cast Lead Israel was under rocket attack and I was careful to not condemn what was happening but to call for a ceasefire on both sides. I was more critical of the Lebanon war, because I did not think it was wise from Israel's point of view.

"I do have my differences with Israel sometimes. We will be a candid friend. If we are critical, it will be after we have thought about it carefully."

And with that he was off into the night, another minority group appeased and applauding. Just what he wanted on the menu two months before an election.

Last updated: 11:39am, April 13 2010