Labour targets Jewish voters in Barnet amid concerns over trust in Starmer’s party

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Labour targets Jewish voters in Barnet amid concerns over trust in Starmer’s party

Jewish News understands party chiefs are concerned at reports that three tough Barnet seats are already in the bag for Labour

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Keir Starmer surrounded by supporters and candidates after Barnet Council local election victory
Keir Starmer surrounded by supporters and candidates after Barnet Council local election victory

Labour is targeting Jewish voters in Barnet over fears the party have yet to” seal the deal” in convincing the community that under Keir Starmer’s leadership the party has “changed for good”.

Jewish News understands party chiefs have been alarmed by a series of reports claiming Labour is poised to romp home in all three of the so-called “bagel belt” seats – Finchley and Golders Green, Chipping Barnet and Hendon.

With the 4 July election now only weeks away, reports back from canvassers on the ground have given a less conclusive verdict, particularly among Jewish voters in the Hendon and Chipping Barnet seats.

Others have told how they fear too many voters think the election is already in the bag for Labour, and will not be motivated to vote on July 4th.

In a bid to boost trust in Starmer’s party in the Hendon constituency, a leaflet signed by four of the best-known Jewish female figures has now been circulated in the seat.

The leaflet, clearly aimed at voters from the community, notes the appalling rise in antisemitism following the 7 October Hamas attacks and calls for the release of the hostages and an end to the war with Hamas.

Featuring the photographs of Dame Margaret Hodge, Luciana Berger, Dame Louise Ellman and Baroness Anderson, it then states: “We are proud to be Jewish. That’s why we were leaders in the struggle against antisemitism in the Labour Party.

“We confronted and defeated the racists and purveyors of hate.  We are proud that under Keir Starmer, Labour has changed for good.”

There are also fears that after Labour’s manifesto was unveiled last week, the policy pledge on Israel/Palestine, which called for recognition of a Palestinian state before the end of any peace process, has raised concern among some Jewish voters.

A senior party figure also admitted to Jewish News: “The idea that all three of the Barnet seats are already in the bag is the stuff of fiction.

“Whatever happens elsewhere in the country on election night, we recognise that the results in Finchley and Golders Green, Hendon and Chipping Barnet are all likely to be close. History tells us these seats have always produced close results in elections.

“That’s why we are not taking any votes, including those in the Jewish community, for granted.”

Another Labour figure in the borough added: “Barnet is never in the bag for Labour, we haven’t sealed the deal yet. The polls suggesting that we have are very misleading.”

Labour secured a historic victory in Barnet in the 2022 local elections, a win that proved a massive boost to Starmer’s leadership.

The Labour leader arrived in Barnet to celebrate that victory with excited local activists, and hailed it as conclusive proof that has decision to put fighting antisemitism at the centre of his mission had been vindicated.

Jewish News understands that Starmer’s closest advisers, including Morgan McSweeney, his election guru, are now eager to see Labour clinch the three Barnet parliamentary seats, as part of the leader’s likely move into No.10 Downing Street.

But election history shows this will be no foregone conclusion.

Leaflet being delivered to Jewish voters in Hendon

In Chipping Barnet, the Conservatives have held the seat ever since it was first created in 1974. The Tory candidate  this time around Theresa Villiers has previously been elected there since 2005.

For Labour, Dan Tomlinson is seeking to overturn a 1, 212 majority on July 4th.

In Finchley and Golders Green the Conservatives have held the seat since 2010, under Mike Freer, who announced he was stepping down from politics ahead of this election due to security concerns.

Alex Deane is the Tory candidate, with Sarah Sackman seeking to overturn a 6,595 majority for the Tories in 2019.

Reports last weekend suggested Labour’s hopes of taking the seat could be boosted by the return of around 2000 students to the constituency following the end of the academic term.

In Hendon, the Conservatives have again held the seat since 2010, with Matthew Offord stepping down as MP ahead of this election.

Ameet Jogia stands for the Tories this time, with David Pinto-Duschinsky seeking to overturn a 4,230 majority for Rishi Sunak’s party.

The Liberal Democrats, Reform UK and the Greens also field candidates in all three seats.

Eyebrows have also been raised in Labour circles by reports that the party is heading for victory in the Hertsmere seat.

Conservative deputy PM Oliver Dowden last won the seat in 2019 with a 21, 000 majority.

He faces a challenge from youthful Labour candidate and former Gogglebox television star Josh Tapper.

But while the Barnet seats are on Labour’s list of battleground seats, Hertsmere remains a more unlikely hope for the party, even though they are well ahead in the national opinion polls.

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