Labour has selected the head of the Jewish Labour Movement to be its candidate in Finchley and Golders Green, the consituency with the highest percentage of Jewish voters in the country.
Jeremy Newmark, who has chaired the JLM since 2014, made the announcement on social media early this morning, tweeting that he was "proud" to have been selected as the party's candidate for the north west london constituency, where Jews make up 21.1 percent of the electorate.
Mr Newmark has previously held key roles within the Jewish community, serving as Chief Executive of the Jewish Leadership Council from 2006 to 2013 and prior to that as a spokesperson for Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, then the UK's Chief Rabbi. He is also the current chair of the constituency Labour party in Hertsmere.
Speaking to the JC, Mr Newmark said he was "thrilled" to have been chosen, and that he intended "to work hard to ensure that Labour’s campaign in Finchley and Golders Green articulates the aspirations of all communities in the area, who are suffering from cuts in public services at this challenging time".
In a message announcing his candidacy, he said: "I will fight against a reckless extreme Tory Brexit and I will work tirelessly to let local people know that this election is a choice between a Labour Party that will stand up for local people or a Conservative Party that only looks after the privileged few."
Mr Newmark is not the only senior JLM officer to be selected to fight a parliamentary seat; on Sunday Mike Katz, one of the JLM's vice chairs, was announced as candidate for the neighbouring seat of Hendon, with Mr Katz tweeting that that the constituency’s residents "deserve an MP who’ll fight for local services and against a hard-right Brexit.” Jews make up 17 percent of the vote in the Hendon constituency.
Despite significant Jewish populations, being a Jewish candidate is no guarantee of victory. Sarah Sackman, another Vice Chair of the JLM, stood for Labour in Finchley and Golders Green in the 2015 election and lost, despite increasing Labour's percentage of the vote. Mr Newmark said he was "looking forward to building upon the superb work done by Sarah Sackman in the last general election campaign
Mr Newmark, Mr Katz and Ms Sackman have all been vocal critics of the antisemitism expressed by various members of the Labour party. However, they have urged fellow Jewish Labour members not to quit the party, advocating a "stand and fight" strategy. In an article for the JC last year, Ms Sackman said that "we can choose to create a vacuum in Labour and leave Jewish progressives without a party that represents their politics. Or we can stay put and confront the problem".
Another longstanding Jewish Labour politician has been selected to fight the seat of Faversham and Mid-Kent. Michael Desmond, a Labour councillor in Hackney, announced today that he had been selected to fight the seat.
As well as announcing his intention to fight against Hard Brexit, supporting an increase in nurses wages and fighting against an increase in small business rates, Mr Desmond said that he would "also challenge any signs of antisemitism at Kent University, who last year failed to condemn a virulent anti-zionist speech made there by [Haaretz columnist] Amira Hass".