‘I will always stand with you’ says Sunak in Golders Green

PM met voters in the Tory-held seat on a visit to a shul and kosher bakery


Mine's a rugelech: Rishi Sunak visits Bread. (Photo by James Manning / POOL / AFP) (Photo by JAMES MANNING/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Rishi Sunak has said Jews should “never feel unsafe to go into town” as he visited a north London synagogue and pledged to crack down on anti-Israel marches if re-elected.

At Machzike Hadath shul in Golders Green and the Bread deli, both in the Finchley and Golders Green constituency, the prime minister received a warm reception.

Children pushed to take selfies with him, while voters told the JC they would support his party despite it languishing far behind Labour in the polls.

Speaking at Machzike Hadath Synagogue, Sunak said he would take a “zero tolerance approach to antisemitism” and support Israel.

“I will always stand with you,” he said.

“I will never equivocate on who was to blame. I will not try and bully Israel into making concessions that are not in its interest. I will never forget that there are hostages still being held by Hamas.”

After eight months of pro-Palestine marches that have featured calls for another “intifada”, Sunak claimed that demonstrators have, “no right to promote hostility to Jews.”

If elected, a Conservative government will legislate to allow the police to take the cumulative impact of marches into account in considering whether to allow them.

“We must change the culture of this country to ensure we remain true to our values,” Sunak said.

He had visited Finchley following the October 7 attack to mourn its victims alongside the community, he told shul members.

And, Sunak said, he was proud to have been the first prime minister to order the British military into action to defend Israel when Iran fired a volley of missiles at it.

There had been a “shocking” increase in antisemitism following the start of the IDF's campaign in Gaza, he said.

“Too many blame Israel for defending itself,” he claimed.

As a result, he continued, Jewish students have been harassed on campus and Jewish birth certificates have been defaced.

Sunak insisted he is “determined” to confront the prejudice.

Referencing a JC article in which he was referred to as a, “nice Jewish boy,” the prime minister said he had a lot in common with the community as a Hindu.

“I know what it is like to be different and to be targeted,” he said.

His comments follow undercover footage published by Channel 4 that showed a Reform UK canvasser in Clacton describing Sunak as a “f**king p**i”.

Around 20 per cent of voters in Golders Green and Finchley are Jewish, the highest proportion of any constituency in the UK.

While its outgoing Conservative MP, Mike Freer, has a majority of 6,500, Labour are expected to win the seat on current polling.

The former minister is stepping down after 14 years representing Finchley following death threats and an arson attack against his office.

Standing to replace him for Labour is Sarah Sackman, a barrister who is a member of the New North London Synagogue and who previously stood against Freer in 2015.

Alex Deane, David Cameron's former chief of staff, is contesting the seat for the Tories.

He told the JC he thought he had a 50 per cent chance of winning the seat.

Sunak's visit shows how much the party cares about the constituency, which was formerly represented by Margaret Thatcher, he said.

“I as a Christian and he as a Hindu show how people can rally around the Jewish community,” he said.

Sunak had shown “steadfast” support for Israel, he added.

Touring Bread and buying a box of rugelech, the prime minister spoke to staff and customers.

The prime minister told some that he expected England to beat Slovakia two nil in their Euros football tournament game.

Bake's manager, Sam, told the JC after Sunak left that he intended to vote for the Conservative party because of the prime minister.

“Love him, that's the only two words you need,” he said.

A woman at the deli to eat lunch said she would vote Tory because they were better prepared to tackle antisemitism.

“I believe Keir has changed Labour,” she said. “I don’t believe the people behind him have changed.”

Sunak's visit to the previously safe Finchley constituency underscores the Conservative party's declining fortunes among both Jews and Londoners.

After Jewish support for Labour collapsed under Jeremy Corbyn, the party is now leading among the community.

46 per cent of Jews say they will vote for Sir Keir Starmer's party, relative to 42 per cent among the population in general, a poll conducted by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research revealed last week.

Thirty per cent of British Jews intend to vote Conservative, relative to 22 per cent nationally.

Just six per cent support Reform, ten per cent the Green Party, and eight per cent the Liberal Democrats.

A poll conducted earlier in the campaign by Survation for the JC found the Conservatives marginally ahead among Jewish voters.

The survey of more than 500 voters who identify as Jewish, carried out by Survation, put the Tory lead at just 9 percentage points – a dramatic drop from the equivalent 2019 figure of 59 per cent, when Labour was led by Jeremy Corbyn.

In what appears to be a vindication of Sir Keir Starmer’s efforts to root out antisemitism from his party, 33 per cent of Jews polled said they intended to vote Labour, against 42 per cent Tory.

Mike Katz, National Chair of the Jewish Labour Movement, said: “This poll shows what we are picking it up on the doorsteps – Jewish people understand that Keir Starmer has made good on his promise of zero tolerance for antisemitism and that Labour is a totally changed party from the last general election.

“We now see Corbyn kicked out of the party and a significant number of Jewish candidates and JLM allies running for Parliament. We don’t expect every Jew to vote Labour; but we want them to have a proper choice at the ballot box – a choice they were denied in 2019.”

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