Two rabbis out and a climate activist in: how the election went

Rabbi David Neifeld and Rabbi Arnie Saunders both missed out for the Conservatives – but there were also some surprise wins


Super Thursday’s elections all over the country brought some surprises for the two big parties and some unexpected highs and lows for Jewish candidates.

Rabbi David Neifeld, a member of the Board of Deputies, failed in his bid to take the vacant Borehamwood Kenilworth seat for the Conservatives on Hertsmere Borough Council. He lost out to his Labour opponent, Jewish Labour candidate Dan Ozarow, who hit the headlines last year after he accused his Conservative opponents of using racial smears against him. Mr Ozarow polled 1,119 votes to Rabbi Neifeld’s 828. 

Another rabbi, Arnie Saunders, failed in his bid to unseat Labour’s Salford mayor Paul Dennett, who won 59 per cent of first preference votes against Rabbi Saunders and four other candidates.

But Rabbi Saunders retained his council seat for the Conservatives in the heavily Jewish populated ward of Kersal and Broughton Park. He and fellow Conservative Ari Leitner scooped up most of the votes in the ward, while Liberal Democrat Avrohom Yitzchak Walter becomes the third Jewish councillor for the area.

In the East Barnet council by-election, the far-right candidate Alex Merola did very badly — taking just 49 votes in a poll that saw a win for the Conservative councillor Nicole Richer, who pipped her Labour opponent by 2,549 votes to 2,257. The seat was previously held by Labour.

Jeremy Newmark, a former Labour parliamentary candidate in Finchley and Golders Green, was not elected in the county elections for Hertfordshire in St Albans North. He polled just 628 votes while the Liberal Democrat candidate won the seat with 2,839 votes.

The former Board of Deputies treasurer Laurence Brass captured the Hertfordshire County Council Bushey North seat from the Conservatives, overturning a Tory majority of 472 and turning it into a Lib Dem majority of nearly 1,000. He is the first Liberal Democrat to win a county seat in Bushey for 16 years. He was a Hertsmere councillor 38 years ago but when he became a judge was prevented from being involved in party politics. When he retired  from the bench he decided to run again, his appetite for dealing with “crucial issues” undimmed.

There were mixed fortunes for London Assembly constituency candidates and London-wide Assembly candidates, too. Leonie Cooper, for Labour, retained her marginal seat of Merton and Wandsworth, but Judith Garfield was not successful in Havering and Redbridge, losing to the Conservative candidate. In Barnet and Camden, Anne Clarke, who is not Jewish but who was strongly supported by the Jewish Labour Movement, won handsomely for Labour.

Councillor Andrée Frieze, a member of Kingston Liberal Synagogue, was not successful as the Green Party candidate for South West London on the London Assembly, losing to a Conservative candidate. But Zack Polanski, the Greens’ number three candidate in the capital, has been elected as a London-wide Assembly member, though he failed in his bid to become the constituency member for West Central on the Assembly, a seat taken by the Conservatives.

Luisa Porritt, the Lib Dem candidate for mayor of London, came consistently in fourth place in every voting constituency. Ms Porritt has only recently discovered her Jewish heritage on her maternal side.

Conservative Nick Nearing-Smith won more than twice the number of votes gained by his Labour opponent Andrea Bilbow – who is Jewish - in a by-election for the Edgware seat on Barnet Council. The vote was called following the death of Councillor Brian Gordon last September. Ms Bilbow was made OBE for her work in the charity she founded for people with attention deficit syndrome.

And in Gateshead, Denise Robson, a member of Newcastle Reform Synagogue, won Saltwell ward for Labour.

Peter Mason, the former head of the Jewish Labour Movement , announced on Wednesday he had been elected as the leader of Ealing Council in London .

He wrote on Twitter:  “I will lead an open, inclusive and transparent @EalingLabour. I am humbled and excited to have been elected to lead our council.”

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