Barnet victory is proof Jewish voters trust us again, claims Labour

Party won a majority of seats on council for first time ever


BARNET, ENGLAND - MAY 06: Labour Party leader Keir Starmer poses with Barnet Labour leader Barry Rawlings (C) and Labour Councillor Zakia Zubairi (L) as he congratulates winning Labour Councillors at StoneX Stadium on May 6, 2022 in Barnet, England. Labour took control of Barnet Council from the Conservatives in yesterday's local elections. Barnet is considered a flagship conservative council having been mostly under their control since 1964. (Photo by Hollie Adams/Getty Images)

Labour has seized control of Britain’s most Jewish local authority in a major local election victory for the party.

Winning majority of seats on Barnet council for the first time has been held up as proof that Labour's move to tackle antisemitism under Sir Keir Starmer is succeeding.

Barnet has been under Conservative control since its creation in 1964, barring an eight-year period from 1994 to 2002 when it was under no overall control.

Overnight the Conservatives lost 14 seats and Labour gained 18, meaning the new balance on the council is Labour 41, Conservatives 22. The turnout was 37.9 per cent.

Labour also took control of Wandsworth and Westminster councils, historically two flagship Conservative boroughs. 

The party said this morning the result demonstrated “the progress Keir Starmer has made to regain the trust of Jewish voters,” Labour List reported.

Thanking voters and campaigners, Swansea Labour MP Carolyn Harris said the result in Barnet “cannot be underestimated”. 

It marks a “sea change” in Sir Keir’s bid to regain the trust of Jewish voters, she added.

Former Labour Barnet election agent Charles Harvey told My London: “Lots of Jewish people didn’t feel they could vote Labour last time. Most London boroughs saw the Labour vote go up - in Barnet we went down.”

The win, he said, was a sign the party’s “toxic brand” was ending in Barnet.

Labour's newly elected councillors include Jewish activists Ella Rose and Liron Velleman.

Ms Rose, a former Union of Jewish Students President, was elected in the previously marginal Whetstone ward. 

The campaigner previously won plaudits for leading the student body through the height of Labour’s antisemitism crisis. 

Mr Velleman, also elected in Whetstone, is the Jewish Labour Movement policy officer. Hailing his victory on Twitter this morning he said: “We did it.”

Conceding defeat, the council’s Conservative former leader Danial Thomas told the BBC the result was down to “a perfect storm of the cost of living crisis, 12 years of a Conservative government and redrawn boundaries”. 

The ‘partygate’ scandal came up only occasionally on the doorstep, he said, adding: “This is a warning shot from Conservative supporters - a fair number just stayed at home.”

The result may concern Barnet’s three Conservative MPs, who could now be at risk of losing their seats.

Labour National Executive Committee member Mark Ferguson said on Twitter: “The difference between the experience of being in Barnet on 2018 and today is hard to put into words. 

“Four years ago, I was shouted at in the street. Yesterday people crossed the road to wish us well. We are earning back People’s trust.”

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