We won't fail you, Tory chairman tells Jewish community


The chairman of the Conservative Party has dismissed suggestions that the Tories are not doing enough to appeal to the Jewish community.

Sir Patrick McLoughlin said it was "a bit unfair" for critics to claim his party had largely remained silent during Labour's antisemitism crisis.

And he highlighted former prime minister David Cameron's efforts to tackle Jeremy Corbyn's handling of the issue as an example of the government's defence of British Jews.

Ahead of the Tories' annual conference in Birmingham next week, Sir Patrick described his shock at the racism problem that has engulfed his political opponents in the past year.

But he denied that colleagues have let down the Jewish community or failed to hold Labour to account.

"When I witnessed David Cameron at Prime Minister's Questions he did let fly at Jeremy Corbyn on numerous occasions," Sir Patrick told the JC in his corner office at party headquarters in Westminster.

"In fairness, Theresa May has only done three PMQs, so I think it's a bit too soon to judge how she will respond.

"I don't think we have been silent on this. I am just staggered that the Labour Party finds itself in the position it finds itself in. I just cannot believe they have allowed this to happen."

Sir Patrick, who has had little engagement with the community during his three decades in Parliament, said he intended to use his role in charge of the party's administration to broaden the Tory appeal to British Jews.

"I want to reach out to those Jewish people who have voted Labour in the past. There is a home for them here, very much so," he said.

The 58-year-old denied that the departure of a series of Jewish figures from the top of the party, including his predecessor Lord Feldman, following the EU referendum would have an impact on the relationship with the community.

The former miner explained: "Andrew Feldman, Grant Shapps, Robert Halfon - Rob is still a member of the government - and Oliver Letwin are great thinkers of the Conservative Party and will still contribute to the debate. Even though David Cameron has left Parliament now, you've not heard the last of David Cameron."

Jews should feel confident about Mrs May replacing Mr Cameron, who was hailed as one of the most philosemitic prime ministers, he added.

While Mr Cameron had helped to "change the face of the party" and make it more diverse, Sir Patrick believes that Mrs May brings the experience of six years at the Home Office, to the top job.

"Theresa very clearly and very quickly set out an agenda which all of us in the Conservative Party are very happy to sign up with. And that is, how do we best serve every section of our community? How do we best open up the country so everyone has an equal opportunity?"

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