Britain’s most high-profile Jewish election candidate has revealed the depth of opposition he faced from his own community during the campaign.
Shneur Odze, the strictly Orthodox Lubavitch candidate who stood for Ukip at both local and European level, said he had undergone a period of soul-searching after weeks of sustained attack.
He claimed Jewish voters in some parts of Salford, Lancashire, had led a tactical campaign to scupper his chances because they opposed Ukip policies.
“The council result was a horrible defeat. We expected to win but lost by a long way. I never take politics personally, but this was very different,” he said.
“I don’t care about trolls on Twitter but I had pretty painful attacks from the Jewish community.
“I really searched my conscience. Everybody can’t be wrong. It made me think long and hard about what I was doing. I discussed it at length with my rabbis.
“I looked closely at the party’s policies, particularly our immigration policy. In the end, I was actually quite sure of myself. I realised we must be either totally right or totally wrong. I do believe we are right.”
As well as losing the election to Salford City council, Manchester-based Mr Odze narrowly failed to secure a seat in the European Parliament. Ukip had three MEPs elected in the north-west region, but Mr Odze was fourth on the party list.
The double blow has left him considering his political future after months of national and local publicity around his candidacy.
The father-of-four explained: “ Getting so close but missing out is quite galling. We were getting through early results from around the region and hearing that we were doing really well and that I had maybe been elected to Brussels.
“When the last few results came through, Labour had piled on the votes and overtook us. It changed so quickly.”
He said he would not rule out standing at the general election or continuing to work behind the scenes for Ukip.
“My gut instinct is to hang up my political ambitions. But I worked very hard on the campaign and the leadership do not want me to give up. There’s a sense of camaraderie,” he said.
“We have three MEPs now working in the north-west, but if one of them gets elected to Westminster next year I would move up the list. I really have to gather my thoughts.”
Mr Odze’s wife, Chavi, was also unsuccessful in her attempt to win election to Salford City Council.
The pair missed out by between 700 and 1,000 votes each in two different wards.