We Believe in Israel director Luke Akehurst elected in North Durham

The non-Jewish Zionist candidate has ensured the Labour Party holds the north England seat


Luke Akehurst (centre). Credit: Luke Akehurst, Twitter/X

Labour’s Luke Akehurst has been elected to serve as MP for North Durham after Kevan James, Labour’s MP for the constituency since 2001, stepped down in May.

Akehurst, 52, is a longtime Labour moderate who serves on the party’s governing body, the National Executive Committee, in addition to being director of the campaign group We Believe in Israel

Akehurst won the seat with 16,562 votes, a majority of nearly 6,000 over Reform’s Andrew Husband.

Reacting to the win on X/Twitter, Akehurst wrote this morning: “I have a new job. Can’t wait to get stuck into fighting for the wonderful people and communities of North Durham.”

During his acceptance speech, Akehurst paid tribute to outgoing MP Kevan Jones and said he’s felt “great affection” for him among North Durham voters.

Though not Jewish himself, Akehurst’s unapologetic support for Israel has earned him plenty of enemies on the left and on social media, particularly during this election as Gaza has become a key issue in progressive and Muslim-dominated constituencies.

Voting data has revealed that Labour has seen a drop in support in those constituencies with greater numbers of Muslim residents, after the party has demonstrated support for Israel in the ongoing Israel- Hamas war.

Five years on from former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s historic election loss, the party’s worst performance since 1935, combatting antisemitism and standing with the Jewish community has been a critical element of Starmer’s “changed” Labour Party. This has triggered a 50-point swing to Labour among Jewish voters.

We Believe in Israel is an advocacy group which among other things seeks to facilitate and support a grassroots network of supporters of Israel in the UK, provide a united front bringing together supporters of Israel across the political spectrum, and help to create a fair and balanced political environment for the country in the UK.

In his role as the group’s director, Akehurst has stridently defended Israel in its actions in Gaza – a view not widely shared across his party.

Akehurst developed a neurological disorder in 2010 causing him to spend five months in hospital, followed by another nine months in a wheelchair. He now walks using a cane.

North Durham constituency spans the north of Country Durham, with its population centres being Chester-le-Street, Stanley, and Sacriston. Labour has held the constituency since it was redrawn in 1983.

Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive