MP will call on experience to succeed


The window of Lee Scott's office in Portcullis House - the £235 million glass-roofed building across the road from Parliament in which hundreds of MPs are based - provides one of the poorest views of any in the building.

While his colleagues enjoy sweeping vistas of Parliament Square, Big Ben or the River Thames, his desk looks out over an alleyway and some dustbins.

But the Conservative MP for Ilford North does not care. He is not in public service for a big office, hefty expenses or subsided bar prices, he tells me.

"I had a philosophy when I was elected that I wouldn't claim expenses," Mr Scott explained. "My predecessor had a second home in Westminster and I didn't think that was right. I left home at six this morning and I'll go back late tonight, the same as my constituents do - and they know that."

Mr Scott, who was a UJIA regional director in Leeds before entering politics, estimates there are as many as 12,000 Jews in his Essex constituency - around 6.5 per cent of voters.

Ilford North

Location: Essex
Sitting MP: Lee Scott (Con)
Majority: 5,404
Size of electorate: 68,777
Percentage of Jewish voters: 6.5
Also standing in May: Wes Streeting (Lab)
Philip Hyde (Ukip)
Doris Osen (Ind)

He has repeatedly been targeted for antisemitic abuse during his 10 years as an MP, with a series of death threats, "dirty Jew" jibes, and groups labelling him "an enemy of Islam". But the 58-year-old has no intention of hiding his roots.

"I won't shy away. I accept the police advice, but the abuse won't change my stance on anything, especially Israel and the Middle East. I don't rein myself in," Mr Scott explained.

With children and grandchildren living in Israel and parliamentary colleagues and government ministers having attended his daughter's wedding in Jerusalem, Mr Scott said he was proud to be a leading advocate for Israel in the Commons.

"When I speak to colleagues who do not necessarily understand the issues, I talk it through with them and I do think it's possible to make a difference - with ministers from Conservative or Labour governments. Talking it through can make an impact.

"It was a fantastic experience sitting in the Knesset watching David Cameron speaking there. What he said was fair but firm. He doesn't agree with everything the Israeli government does, but he said we are by your side."

A majority of 5,404 should be enough to see Mr Scott elected for the third time, but bookies and pollsters currently give him only a narrow lead over Labour's Wes Streeting.

Labour leader Ed Miliband could be the man who costs Mr Streeting a seat in the Commons, the incumbent suggested, both because of his approach to Israel during last summer's Gaza conflict and his perceived lack of leadership skills.

Mr Scott said: "Mr Miliband made a decision in the summer and the public can assess whether that was for electoral reasons or not, a numbers game or not.

"It comes up on the doorstep. The public have no confidence in him being prime minister."

Mr Scott, chairman of Parliament's Regulatory Reform Committee and the government's special needs tsar, believes his own experience will see him over the line after a tough campaign.

"I tell people: 'What you see is what you get.'

"I didn't go to university. I didn't come from a wealthy family. My father ended his life working in a menswear shop, my mother worked in a toy factory. I was born in Stratford and brought up in Redbridge. I love the area.

"Experience is important in politics. I know what it's like to not be able to pay a bill, to worry about my job. One of the things you can do in a constituency surgery is say - I have that experience."

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