Community hustings attract impressive audiences as election fever mounts

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Community hustings attract impressive audiences as election fever mounts

200 people attended Hertsmere election hustings at Borehamwood Synagogue, while 150 register for Chipping Barnet event at Jcoss

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Theresa Villiers, left, Mark Durrant, right, with Dan Tomlinson next to him at Chipping Barnet hustings at Jcoss.
Theresa Villiers, left, Mark Durrant, right, with Dan Tomlinson next to him at Chipping Barnet hustings at Jcoss.

Election fever has started to grip the community with the proof being the impressive attendances seen at hustings staged this week at local schools and synagogues.

More than 200 people attended a lively event at Borehamwood Synagogue on Tuesday evening, featuring deputy prime minister Oliver Dowden and Labour candidate Josh Tapper, along with a Liberal Democrat representative.

While at JCOSS school, 150 people had registered to attend a Chipping Barnet hustings on the same night, which featured the Conservative candidate Theresa Villiers and Labour’s Dan Tomlinson, again with the Lib Dem’s Mark Durrant.

The high attendances seemed to confirm plenty of interest within the community over the result of next month’s election, with opinion polls continuing to show Labour in a commanding lead over the Conservatives.

While Israel, in the aftermath of the October 7th Hamas atrocity remained an obvious topic of discussion, and concerns, hustings so far have also shown the community has major concern about issues such as housing, the state of the roads and pavements, along with worries about the impact of pollution, and of sewage leaks.

Hertsmere community hustings

In Hertsmere, Labour’s Tapper was repeatedly pressed to clarify his party’s position around Israel and Palestine recognition. He rejected claims the Keir Starmer led party would rush to recognise a Palestinian state if winning the election, and pointed to the fact that foreign secretary David Cameron had signalled support for a similar policy to the one contained in the Labour manifesto.

At one point Dowden admitted he had not attended a D-Day commemoration this year, but stressed he had attended them in the past.

In Chipping Barnet, former Tory minister Villiers attempted to suggest Labour favoured “unilateral” recognition of Palestine, despite the party’s manifesto stressing they would only back recognition as a part of an international process.

Tomlinson and Villiers both condemned the Palestinian relief agency UNRWA over evidence that some staff members supported the October 7th massacre.

The Labour candidate also confirmed that a Starmer led government would match the current Tory government’s £78 million funding commitment to the Community Security Trust.

Both Villiers and Tomlinson pledged to remain firm supporters of Israel if elected as MPs.

Audience arrives at Jcoss school ahead of Chipping Barnet hustings

For the Lib Dem’s Durrant also praised the community, and said he was a supporter of Israel, having travelled to the country on several occasions.

He also described some of the potholes in Chipping Barnet as some of the worst he had seen.

Around 30 Jewish Community hustings, featuring local candidates from the main political parties, are set to take place between now and the general election on July 4th, in Barnet, elsewhere in north London, in Hertsmere, in Leeds, Manchester and in Scotland.

The debates are backed by the Board of Deputies, Jewish Leadership Council, London Jewish Forum, and all of the regional communal bodies, with Jewish News as media partner.

Board president Phil Rosenberg said:”The Board of Deputies is proud of its efforts, alongside the JLC, London Jewish Forum and regional partners, to have helped to facilitate around 30 Jewish Community hustings ahead of the General Election; we thank the Jewish News for its media partner role in advertising many of these.

“Those which have already been held have generated a high level of interest; the Jewish community has a high level of engagement with national politics, and many of the subjects raised are among those discussed at greater length in the Board’s Jewish Manifesto, due to be published this week.

“We are grateful to all candidates who have committed to our hustings, and look forward to the debates yet to come.”

Find a hustings in your area here:

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