Police cuts and housing lead concerns


Gareth Thomas was the first Labour candidate ever to win the seat of Harrow West when he captured it in the Tony Blair landslide victory of 1997.

He is in no mood to allow the Conservatives to take it back next month. The bookies make him odds-on favourite to keep his job in Parliament.

Mr Thomas, Labour's Shadow Middle East Minister, says he is well aware of the concerns of Jewish voters in the area.

He said: "Partly they are concerned about policing. Harrow has not been on the radar quite so much regarding possible attacks on synagogues, but there's clearly concern about local policing levels.

"The Jewish community also raises issues about the Middle East. There's a general issue around the tone of the debate. There's frustration over the lack of a two-state solution."

Mr Thomas acknowledges that the next government faces a "big challenge" in working with leaders on both sides of the divide in the region.

The Labour frontbencher said he was determined to concentrate during the campaign on the future of local health services, the regeneration of Harrow's town centre, and the shortage of affordable homes.

He also suggested that the fact his Conservative challenger, Hannah David, lives in Hertfordshire could be significant.

"One of the differences is that I live in the constituency and come from it and will be living in it regardless of what happens on May 7. When I get out of bed I'm here working straight away," Mr Thomas said.

"I'm optimistic, but it has always been the case that people expect you to work hard for their vote."

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