Diane Abbott wins Hackney North seat despite ‘Jews don’t experience racism’ comment

The Conservatives’ Orthodox Jewish candidate, David Landau, was beaten into third place


Britain's opposition Labour party MP Diane Abbott attends an anti-government protest calling for the Prime Minister's resignation, outside Downing Street in central London on September 7, 2019. - Britain's upper house on Friday gave final approval to a law that would force Boris Johnson to delay Brexit, in a fresh setback for the British Prime Minister who is struggling in his bid to call an early election. (Photo by Daniel LEAL / AFP) (Photo by DANIEL LEAL/AFP via Getty Images)

Diane Abbott, the former Shadow Home Secretary who was a close ally of Jeremy Corbyn when he led the Labour Party, won a comfortable victory in Hackney North and Stoke Newington – home to Europe’s largest strictly Orthodox community.

Despite the Conservatives fielding an Orthodox Jewish candidate, David Landau, in the stronghold of British Chasidism, it had little impact as he was beaten into third place by the Greens.

Abbott, who is one of the longest-serving MPs with 37 years in Parliament, had been suspended by Labour for suggesting in a letter to a newspaper that Jewish, Irish and Traveller people experienced prejudice rather than racism.

She apologised and withdrew her comments after an outcry.

But although there was media speculation over whether she would be permitted to stand for the party in the election, she was reinstated and her candidacy was approved by the party’s HQ.

Abbott took the seat with 24,355 votes ahead of the Greens — 9,275, with the Conservatives gaining only 3,457. Abbott’s share of the vote was 10 per cent down on that of her victory in 2019, while the Greens was up by 14 per cent. Barely half the constituency, 53 per cent, cast a vote.

Dr Landau said, “Clearly the entire election was a protest opportunity against the incumbent government with Labour gaining almost no extra votes. Not much an individual candidate can do about that, although Ameet Jogia almost managed [in Hendon]!

“I hope I have encouraged my community to be more forthright in its drive for appropriate representation.”

Around one in eight of the local electorate is Jewish and all six Charedi councillors in the borough of Hackney are Conservative. Recent polling by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research indicated that the Strictly Orthodox were the most Conservative-inclined sector of the Jewish population.

While Dr Landau chairs the representative group for Strictly Orthodox schools, Chinuch UK, it is not universally recognised within Stamford Hill. A number of local rabbis from the religious right of the Charedi community reportedly put out a statement before the election saying that Chinuch UK did “not speak for the Charedi Orthodox Jewish community in electoral matters or any other affairs”.

In a council by-election on Thursday in one of the wards with the highest Jewish population, the Charedi Conservative candidate failed to take the seat from Labour; it had recently been vacated by Labour’s only Charedi councillor.

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