CST quizzes London mayoral candidates
6 April 2016
Last night at JW3, the London Jewish Forum and Jewish News UK hosted the Jewish London Mayoral hustings, chaired by Doug Krickler. All the parties who have representation in Parliament were in attendance, including Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith; Labour’s Sadiq Khan; Liberal Democrat London Assembly member Caroline Pidgeon; UKIP’s Peter Whittle and the Green’s work and pensions spokesman, Jonathan Bartley, who stepped in on behalf of Green candidate Sian Berry.
CST’s Jonny Newton, Public Affairs and External Relations officer, further quizzed the candidates on how they would tackle the rise of antisemitism in London. Labour’s Sadiq Khan did not shy away from responding to accusations of antisemitism in the Labour party. He stated:
“It is unacceptable in 2016 to have anti-Semitism in the Labour Party. It is with sorrow that I wear that badge of shame. We need not just to talk the talk, but to walk the walk —there should be no hierarchy of racism. If it means senior members of my party, or members of the NEC (the National Executive Committee, Labour’s governing body) being trained in what antisemitism is, then so be it.”
Conservative’s Zac Goldsmith MP stated that the primary issue facing London was “the rise of antisemitism and the threat of terrorism” and said he does not want the Jewish community in London to feel under threat, like Jews in Paris do following the recent terror attacks. He pledged that:
“If I am elected mayor I will give police the tools they need to keep us safe. I will instruct the Met Police to take a zero tolerance approach to any form of hate crime— and I’ll back security at any Jewish school or synagogue where the need is real.”
Jonathan Bartley for the Greens responded that all political parties should use external judgment over accusations of antisemitism to help root it out. He labelled the Green party as the Party of “Shalom” and later commented on the upcoming anniversary of Cable Street, stating that is a key opportunity to celebrate a united front against antisemitism. UKIP’s Peter Whittle lamented that despite London celebrating itself as tolerant, this is “on the wane”.
The mayoral candidates also reflected on the need for increased policing and security for the Jewish community. Conservative Zac Goldmith stated that there are practical steps which the Mayor can take to combat hate crime, including antisemitism. Labour’s Sadiq Khan said that too few Londoners know that Jewish schools and synagogues are protected by CST. Caroline Pidgeon for the Liberal Democrats also praised CST’s work and said that every Londoner should feel safe. She bemoaned that unfortunately hate crime is probably under reported and said she wants 3,000 extra police in London to help with security.
The candidates also discussed other key issues facing both the Jewish community and wider London including the issue of faith schools, social care, Israel Apartheid Week and the Boycott and the Divestment and Sanctions movement. The contentious issue of free speech was also debated, particularly in response to a question about antisemitism on university campuses in the capital. Liberal Democrat Caroline Pidgeon affirmed that free speech should not incite religious or racial hatred.
London Jewish Forum additionally launched a manifesto for the candidates standing in the mayoral elections, which Conservative Zac Goldmith said he accepted in full. CST were consulted in the formulation of the manifesto, specifically on the issues of community safety, cohesion and antisemitism. Citing CST’s work with the Mayor’s Office of Policing and Crime (MOPAC) and funding granted by the Government for the security of Jewish schools and administered by CST, the manifesto pledges in relation to the security threat to the Jewish community:
“In light of the increased security threat level for the Jewish community, ensure that combating antisemitism and hate crime in London remains a priority for City Hall, that there is a continued focus on terrorism prevention and community resilience, and that MOPAC continues to support the work of CST in providing services to support victims of antisemitic hate crime. “
CST wishes all the contenders luck in their campaigns to become London mayor, and looks forward to working with the successful candidate in the future to tackle antisemitism in the capital.
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