How do Hendon’s Labour and Tory MP hopefuls compare?

The JC spoke to the Conservative and Labour candidates for the north London marginal seat


On the morning of July 5, the heavily Jewish seat of Hendon will have a new MP.

The marginal constituency in north London has been held since 2010 by Conservative MP Matthew Offord, who is not standing for re-election.

Around 15 per cent of the population in Hendon are Jewish, making it the parliamentary constituency with the second largest number of Jewish voters in London (Finchley and Golders Green has the most).

The contest will highly likely be a head-to-head contest between Labour and the Conservatives. Two separate polls have predicted that Labour will win the seat, but Tory candidate Ameet Jogia MBE told me that there is “everything to play for.”

In the blue corner

Jogia is a government special adviser in No 10 Downing Street and councillor in next-door Harrow.

Despite dire polling for the Tories nationally, he said that “many people here are concerned with Labour’s stances” on key issues like “Labour’s stance on the conflict in Gaza”, “antisemitism” and plans to increase taxes on fee-paying schools by 20 per cent.

He claimed: “Jewish schools that I visited have said that they may have to shut down because they can't afford it, and parents won't be able to afford it either.”

Jogia, who grew up on a council estate and counts Margaret Thatcher as one of his political heroes, told the JC he was attracted to the Tories’ aspirational policies. “It was the Conservatives who have offered that route of aspiring to achieve greater things. It doesn't matter where you come from, it is where you get to that matters. There are no barriers to success. I had the opportunity to have a great state education and go to university. As someone who was child of immigrants who could barely speak English, who was homeless, I’m now working at No10 for the Prime Minister.”

How would he rate the Rishi Sunak on the job he’s done? “10/10” he said. “I've been working with him side by side and I think given the circumstances I don't think anyone could have done a better job. He's given his soul to the job and he's working every given hour to provide for the British public.”

Why should British Jews vote for him? “If a Labour government comes in with a supermajority there will be no-one to hold them to account” Jogia said. “We need a strong voice for the Jewish community, which I don't think the Labour Party and Labour MP can give, especially in a supermajority, and we need a strong voice to stand up for Israel as well.”

He also cited Labour’s woes in Rochdale (initially backing a candidate who said Israel “allowed” October 7 to happen only to later withdraw support after more comments were revealed) and confusion over veteran left-winger Diane Abbott’s endorsement as a Labour candidate as reasons the party wasn’t to be trusted.

In the red corner

Labour’s David Pinto-Duschinsky hopes to turn the seat red for the first time since 2010. Son of a Holocaust survivor, he served as an adviser to the late Labour Chancellor Alistair Darling.

He told the JC he wanted to bring “change” to Hendon. “If you knock on the doors around here, you hear that the country is broken, that people are struggling with the cost of living crisis, they can't see a GP, they don't see police on their street and that things just aren't working as they should do.”

Will the Jewish community trust that Labour has genuinely changed? Sir Keir Starmer has transformed the party, Pinto-Duschinsky claimed “when he came to power, the very first thing he said was that he would rip antisemitism out by the roots. He’s matched strong words with even stronger actions. Jeremy Corbyn today is running against the Labour Party. That's how much it's changed.”

Pressed on whether he regretted standing for Labour in 2019 and would have effectively put Jeremy Corbyn into Downing Street if Labour had won, he said, “I'm not here to make excuses for the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn. It disgraced itself. Some people fought to change Labour by leaving, some of us fought to change Labour by staying and turning the party around. I led the fight in the local party against antisemitism.”

Pinto-Duschinsky described the levels rising levels of antisemitism as “the most challenging and the hardest time in my lifetime to be British Jew.” He added: “We face not just the trauma and grief on the back of October 7, but a surging wave of antisemitism. I talk to people who talk about having to hide their kippot, to families whose kids have had to take off their school blazers because they have Magen Davids on them. I've even talked to people who've taken down their mezuzahs. This is an incredibly tough climate, and it breaks my heart, but it makes me even more determined to stand up for our Jewish community.”

Can Labour be trusted on Israel? Or will they, like other socialist parties have across Europe, notably in Spain, unilaterally recognise a Palestinian state?

Pinto-Duschinsky insisted: “Labour's position is really clear. We want a two-state solution. As part of the process, we will at an appropriate time move to recognise a Palestinian state. But I don't think that preconditions exist today for that recognition.”

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