Disgruntled Tories defecting to UKIP
Three Jewish candidates are leading a challenge to Conservative rule in Bury in May's local elections after defecting to the UK Independence Party, claiming Tory intransigence on Jewish issues.
Former Tory Councillor Peter Redstone said anger had been rising within the largest Jewish community in Greater Manchester for some time. He has now become the chair of Bury's UKIP party and is leading another Tory defecting member, Raymond Solomon, and his son Andrew Redstone, as part of an eight-candidate UKIP team to take on the Tories on May 5.
Mr Redstone, a Conservative councillor from 2004 until 2010 in Whitefield and once the council's finance chief, said he had a list of grievances and Conservative "broken promises" and felt after many years he was no longer able to be a member of the party. He said Bury Council had agreed to stop weekly domestic waste collections, breaking a manifesto pledge in previous years, which had concerned large Jewish families over health issues.
Last year councillors were accused of ignoring community outrage when dozens of Nazi impersonators, including one dressed as Nazi war-criminal Hermann Goering, took part in a public event in Bury. Mr Redstone also cited failure to offer culturally sensitive services to the Charedi community, now the norm in Salford.
Speaking before Bury Council's abrupt change of heart over flying Israel's flag at the town hall on Israel Independence Day (see page 2), although it was prepared to continue allowing Pakistanis to celebrate their national day, Mr Redstone said: "When you turn around to your own electorate and say you don't want to upset Pakistanis, but you are upsetting the whole Jewish population in Whitefield and expect them to vote for you, that is probably a bit politically naïve."
But local Conservative leader Bob Bibby said the claim was "offensive" and added: "Peter Redstone changes his party as much as he changes his underpants.
"Under my leadership Whitefield will have an eruv. It was me who told the planning department to take that seriously, and no other [Manchester] council has done that.
"Any new policy on the flag will be applied uniformly... I've been in good faith with the Jewish fraternity since I've been leader. The idea that I am against the Jewish faith is a silly nonsense," he said.