Marcus Dysch

Tories to benefit as smoked Kippers retreat

Ukip was never a sensible or moral home for Jewish voters, and its impending demise will be welcomed by many in our community

May 11, 2017 11:59

How quickly things change. 

Two years ago, Ukip soared to such relative heights that its candidates finished third in seven of the country’s key Jewish constituencies, amassing tens of thousands of votes — many of them from Jews.

Under Nigel Farage’s bombastic leadership, the party received almost four million votes nationally and the biggest increase in its share of the vote of any party.

Now, a month before the next general election, the party faces almost complete wipe out.

In last week’s local polls Ukip lost every one of its councillors who was up for re-election and its share plunged to around five per cent. 

So substantial is Ukip’s collapse that this week the party said it would not put up candidates in the three constituencies in Barnet, north-west London, urging supporters to instead vote for the three Tories who won last time and are standing again. 

You do not need to agree with Nick Clegg’s claim this week that Theresa May is “ventriloquising for Nigel Farage” to see where the Ukip support will go. 

As an aside, it is unclear how Mr Clegg’s comment tallies with the news that Mrs May’s chief of staff reportedly met Lord Glasman, the Jewish former adviser to Ed Miliband who devised the “Blue Labour” school of thinking on family values and social responsibility. Such a move hardly chimes with the claims of a Tory lurch to the hard-right.

Nonetheless, Ukip’s decision not to stand will embolden Conservatives who have won before — Mike Freer in Finchley and Golders Green, Lee Scott in Ilford North, and Matthew Offord in Hendon among others.

There was incredulity in many parts of British Jewry in 2015 as surprising numbers of right-leaning members of the community — mainly but not exclusively older men who said they feared Muslims — pledged their support to Mr Farage. 

The supposed backing for Israel outlined by Mr Farage and subsequently his successor Paul Nuttall could never hide the paucity in their understanding of Jewish issues. 

As deputy leader two years ago, Mr Nuttall was left to try to dig Ukip’s way out of a fog of confusion over its stance on shechita. While admitting “I am not an expert”, he implied kosher slaughter was safe, but Ukip policy remains confusing.

The party was never a sensible or moral home for Jewish voters, and its impending demise will be welcomed by many in our community.

Perhaps it was inevitable after the Brexit vote that Kippers would swim back to the Conservatives; or perhaps Mrs May has done just enough to tease a few more back into her camp with lines on immigration and grammar schools.

Either way, this rapid disintegration of Ukip’s vote will mean only one thing for the prospects of Conservative and Labour candidates in areas with large Jewish populations — increased majorities for returning Tory MPs, and in the case of Ilford North, the likely election of Mr Scott. 

  • Clarification - since this piece went to press on Wednesday, Ukip have in fact declared two candidates in the Barnet constituencies: Sabriye Warsame in Hendon, and Andrew Price in Finchley and Golders Green. Information supplied by a Ukip source earlier in the week had led us to believe this would not be the case. 

See all our Election 2017 coverage here

May 11, 2017 11:59

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