Jewish candidates prepare for battle

Jewish candidates and communities are poised to make a difference


In the biggest round of local elections to take place for years, Jewish candidates and communities are poised to make a difference across the board at polling day next Thursday.

There will be elections at mayoral, county and local levels, as well as votes for police and crime commissioners.

Two rabbis are vying for electoral success, and both will be representing the Conservative Party.

Rabbi Arnold Saunders is the Conservative candidate for the Salford mayoral elections in Lancashire, while north of London, in Hertsmere Borough Council, Rabbi David Neifeld, a member of the Board of Deputies, is hoping to take the vacant Borehamwood Kenilworth seat in a by-election triggered by the death of Councillor Cynthia Barker last year.

Rabbi Neifeld is up against a Jewish Labour candidate, Dan Ozarow, who fell out with his Conservative opponents at the last elections, accusing them of racial smears against him.

In a worrying development, a far-right candidate, Alex Merola, is standing on behalf of the For Britain movement in East Barnet, in a council by-election triggered by the departure of Labour councillor Jo Cooper, who rsigned due to NHS work commitments. Merola will face Conservative and Labour opponents in what is said to be a marginal seat.

Meanwhile, Hertsmere Labour councillor Jeremy Newmark, a former executive director of the Jewish Leadership Council, is standing in the county elections for Hertfordshire in St Albans North.

He was previously a parliamentary candidate for Labour in Finchley and Golders Green.

Leonie Cooper is standing for the London Assembly in the marginal seat of Merton and Wandsworth, which she currently holds. In Havering and Redbridge, Judith Garfield is another Jewish candidate for the Assembly, standing for Labour in a Conservative-controlled seat said to be Labour’s number one target in the capital. London Assembly constituencies where Jewish votes may possibly make a difference include Barnet and Camden, Harrow and Brent, and Enfield and Haringey.

In south-west London, Councillor Andrée Frieze, who represents Ham, Petersham and Richmond Riverside for the Green Party, is standing as her party’s London Assembly candidate for Hounslow, Kingston and Richmond.

She and her Israeli husband, Shimon, are active members of Kingston Liberal Synagogue.

Zack Polanski, a former Liberal Democrat activist, is now the Greens’ candidate for the London Assembly for West Central London.

The Manchester-born Polanski is number three on the London Assembly List with Sian Berry and Caroline Russell.

The Lib Dems have picked Luisa Porritt as their challenger to Mayor of London, Labour’s Sadiq Khan.

Ms Porritt has only recently discovered her Jewish heritage on her maternal side. Following the death of Councillor Brian Gordon last September, on the eve of his second stint as Mayor of Barnet, there will be a by-election for his Edgware seat.

Hoping to succeed him will be Conservative Nick Nearing-Smith, while the Labour challenger will be Jewish candidate Andrea Bilbow, OBE, founder and chief executive of a national charity for people with attention deficit syndrome.

Councillor Gordon achieved a majority of more than 2,000 votes, but some are unsure if Mr Nearing-Smith can achieve the same level of support.

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