Labour ‘rebuilding trust’ with community in Bury, say winning Jewish councillors

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Labour ‘rebuilding trust’ with community in Bury, say winning Jewish councillors

Re-elected Unsworth councillor Nathan Borada points to his party's 'fantastic gain' in the Pilkington Park ward in last week local elections

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Dame Louise Ellman, (centre), campaigns at the weekend with Bury Labour councillors Nathan Boroda and Tahir Rafiq ahead of the May 5 local elections
Dame Louise Ellman, (centre), campaigns at the weekend with Bury Labour councillors Nathan Boroda and Tahir Rafiq ahead of the May 5 local elections

Jewish councillors celebrating last week’s local election victory for Labour in Bury, Greater Manchester, have said the results show the party “is rebuilding trust” with the sizeable community in the area.

Nathan Boroda, who will again represent the Unsworth ward in Bury, pointed to “significant victories” for Labour in three local wards – including a “fantastic gain” in Pilkington Park, where around a quarter of the electorate are Jewish.

Labour also improved its position in the Sedgley Park and Unsworth wards, again both areas of high Jewish populations.

Boroda, who also sits on the Board of Deputies, and who tripled his majority this time around, told Jewish News:”Our results in Bury show that we are rebuilding trust with the Jewish community.

“We have significant victories in Sedgley and Unsworth and a fantastic gain in Pilkington Park.

“There is still more to be done but these results emphasise we are on the right path.”

Meanwhile Richard Gold, re-elected in Sedgley Park said in his ward “three Labour councillors have worked hard to support the Jewish community and all communities throughout the year.”

He added:”We are pleased we have all been elected with significant majorities.”

Bury – which has the second largest Jewish community in the country – had been expected to be a close battle between Labour, who had been in control of the council, and the local Conservatives.

But after the results of the 51 seat council were announced last Friday, Labour gained one councillor to give them a total of 29, while the Conservatives lost four and the Liberal Democrats lost three.

Those standing independently increased by six – including Radcliffe First who now have eight councillors.

The results meant Labour has increased its majority to seven.

In Pilkington Park, which had not been a stronghold for Labour for sometime Elizabeth Fitzgerald, was elected along with the Tory candidate Russell Bernstein.

Labour’s Michael Rubinstein, who also sits on the Board, narrowly missed out along becoming a councillor in the ward.

On Sunday, local Conservative Group leader Nick Jones announced he was standing down with a “heavy heart.”

He said his party “gave it their all at this election.”

Jones is being replaced by Bernstein, who is a close ally of the Bury North MP James Daly.

Bury Tory ‘s local election campaign was beset with controversy over some candidates and controversial comments they had made over Zionism and Israel.

In an unprecedented move, last month Tory leader Jones issued a statement following concerns raised by Jewish groups about the conduct of some candidates saying his party “are friends of Israel and we fully support the IHRA definition of antisemitism.”

Labour’s Cllr Gold said it was a “concern a Conservative candidate had to be ‘un-endorsed’ for antisemitism.”

The defection of former Tory MP Christian Wakeford to Labour earlier this year, was also believed to have played some part in influencing local Jewish opinion.

Wakeford, who has spoken out repeatedly condemning antisemitism and has been a loyal supporter of Israel in the Commons, received some criticism from Tory loyalists in the community after he quit the party.

But he embarked on a campaign to convince critics in the community he would not change his views, despite quitting the Conservatives.

He appeared at an event at the local Whitefield Synagogue in the run up to the local election, and appeared to win over large sections of the audience with his speech.

In the run-up to last Thursday’s poll a report in the Guardian quoted Labour activists recounting how appalling the atmosphere was in 2019 among Jewish voters.

“We used to get shouted off the doorstep and now we aren’t,” one told the newspaper.

“Two years out from an election, that is not such a bad place to work from.”

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