Altrincham and Sale West: Election 2010


Manchester Jewry's most affluent community sits on the edge of the only Tory seat in Greater Manchester, Altrincham and Sale West.

It is home to Bowdon, Hale and Sale, some of Manchester's wealthiest suburbs, each with its own synagogue. It has the largest Jewish community outside north Manchester, although it makes up only two per cent of the area's population.

Nevertheless, incumbent MP Graham Brady is chasing the Jewish vote, noting the "vibrant" community is "integrated into every walk of life, whether business, education, public service or voluntary organisations."

He was first elected in 1997, as the youngest Conservative MP at the time. He has maintained well over 40 per cent of the vote since. He will meet Manchester Jewish Representative Council today (Friday) in an effort not to rely on the effectively safe seat.

Mr Brady is careful to point to his "unwaivering" support of "the right of the state of Israel to exist and to protect its citizens to live in peace and democracy". A long-standing member of Conservative Friends of Israel, he resigned as a frontbencher in a rebellion against his own party, to protect his support of the local grammar schools system which educated him.

It also educated his strongest opponent, Labour's Tom Ross. Both went to Altrincham Grammar School. Mr Ross, a bank manager and Trafford councillor, has been campaigning on the economy and his belief that Labour can deliver a strong recovery.

On the Middle East Mr Ross says "there is power in diplomacy," citing Northern Ireland as a model to get the Israelis and Palestinian talking. More widely, he marched against the Iraq war in 2003 and would not support military action against Iran by Israel or the US, "unless Iran attacked another nation first".

Altrincham resident and property developer Darryl Lee suspects candidates' views on Israel will be scrutinised by local Jewish voters, although "there are plenty of people interested in party views" on domestic issues, likely to be the main decider.

LibDem Jane Brophy is an NHS child nutrition trainer and a councillor on the local authority. At the last election the LibDems came third with 22 per cent of the vote.

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