Conservative supporters Fink and Feldman head to Lords

By Marcus Dysch an..., November 25, 2010
Jonathan Kestenbaum

Jonathan Kestenbaum

The chair of Liberal Democrat Friends of Israel (LDFI) and the former chief executive of the Chief Rabbi's Office are amongst a dozen Jewish politicians, businessmen and charity workers to be enobled.

The additions to the House of Lords were among 54 political peers chosen by the main parties.

● Conservative

Long-standing party supporters Stanley Fink and Andrew Feldman head the Conservative appointees.

Mr Fink, a joint party treasurer, is a hedge fund manager who was formerly chief executive of the MAN Group and has donated £1.9 million to the Tories since 2003.

Baroness-to-be Oona King

Baroness-to-be Oona King

He is a vice-president of the Jewish Leadership Council, chairman of the patrons of Liberal Judaism and co-chairman of the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies.

Mr Feldman is David Cameron's chief fundraiser and joint chairman of the party. The pair have been close friends since their days at Oxford. Mr Feldman raised money for Mr Cameron's leadership campaign five years ago and his company, Jayroma, has donated £55,000 to the party.

Joining them will be former BBC chairman and ex-ITV executive chairman Michael Grade, a regular after-dinner speaker at Jewish charity events, and David Gold.

The Herbert Smith lawyer, who belongs to Southend and Westcliff Hebrew Congregation, represented the Israeli organisation Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael in their dispute with Britain's JNF. "While the prospect of addressing the House of Lords is daunting," he said. "I feel that chairing a synagogue AGM has put me in very good stead."

Gordon Wasserman, an expert on police force management, also becomes a Lord.

● Labour

Jonathan Kestenbaum, former UJIA chief executive and past chairman of the Maccabi GB squad, is a surprise new Laboour peer. Having won the IDF's Outstanding Soldier award in 1983, he returned to the UK in 1991 to head the Chief Rabbi's office under Lord Sacks. Currently chief executive of the endowment fund for science and technology, he will step down to become chairman and chief executive of Five Arrows, Lord Rothschild's family investment company.

Oona King's peerage signals a return to front-line politics for the former Bethnal Green and Bow MP.

She is currently head of diversity at Channel Four and is a close friend of new Labour leader Ed Miliband. In September she lost to Ken Livingstone in the race to be the party's London mayoral candidate.

The third Labour peer is JFS-educated academic Maurice Glasman, an activist with the London Citizens group and director of the faith and citizenship programme at London Metropolitan University. He is also vice-chairman of the Simon Marks Jewish Primary School in Stoke Newington.

Jon Mendelson, Gordon Brown's chief fundraiser and former Labour Friends of Israel chairman, is believed to have been approved for a peerage six months ago after being proposed by the former Prime Minister. But his honour was vetoed by new Labour leader Ed Miliband.

● Liberal Democrats

LDFI chair Monroe Palmer's elevation comes a fortnight after Nick Clegg admitted that not enough had been done to support pro-Israel voices in the party.

A councillor in Barnet for more than 25 years, Mr Palmer is a former party treasurer and serves as an adviser to Mr Clegg on the Middle East.

He said: "I'm looking forward to taking on the role. It's clear that being
an advocate of Jewish and Israeli causes has not harmed my name going forward.

"I will certainly speak up for Israel.
I want to be in the Lords in time to talk about universal jurisdiction."

Party donors Jonathan Marks and Paul Strasburger will join him, as will former MP Susan Kramer, the daughter of a Hungarian Holocaust survivor.

She lost her Richmond Park seat in May's general election and is now standing to be the party's president.

Last updated: 4:20pm, November 25 2010