Labour romps home in Bury but Tory vote holds up in Epping Forest

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Labour romps home in Bury but Tory vote holds up in Epping Forest

London anxiously awaits results of mayoral contest as local election results in Jewish areas in England reveal support for candidates from both main parties

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Local elections take place on 5 May 2022. Polls will open at 7am and close at 10pm. (Jewish News)
Local elections take place on 5 May 2022. Polls will open at 7am and close at 10pm. (Jewish News)

Results of local elections across much of England and Wales have appeared to show Jewish voters lending their support either to Conservative or Labour candidates in different regions with communities sizeable enough to draw any conclusions. 

Meanwhile, with the London mayoral election not announced until Saturday, one notable result from the newly created North East region saw the resounding defeat of Jamie Driscoll, who stood as an independent, after Labour refused to select him over his promotion of the filmmaker Ken Loach.

While overall mayoral and council results showed that the Keir Starmer led Labour party was heading for victory at a general election, with the Tory vote well down, there was also some evidence of Muslim voters deserting Labour in some areas, most notably Oldham in Greater Manchester in protest at the party’s stance over Gaza.

Results from Epping Forest council elections showed wins for Conservative candidates in the Chigwell with Lambourne ward, where 10% of the population is Jewish, and in Buckhurst Hill West, with a smaller five percent from the community.

But up in the north west, in Bury, Greater Manchester, where some of the biggest communities outside of London and Hertfordshire live, it was a different story with Labour performing well.

In Sedgely, where 38 percent of the population are Jewish, the Labour candidate romped home securing 65 percent of the vote. And in nearby Pilkington Park, Labour secured 54 per cent of the vote in areas where the community makes up 23 percent of those who live there.

Over in Alwoodley in Leeds, where the community make up 11 percent of the population, the Tory candidate won, but there was also an increase in support for the Labour rival.

Further north in Gateshead, Labour candidates won in the Saltwell ward, with over 16 percent of the community being Jewish, and again there was a Labour victory in nearby Bridges, where around 10 percent are from the community.

Russell Langer, who is an expert in looking at the way the community votes in elections, posting updates on his social media feed on X/Twitter, told Jewish News he had not noted anything unusual against the national trend this time around.

In the much larger mayoral contests it was difficult to draw any conclusions over which way the community voted.

But the defeat of the former Labour north of Tyne mayor, Driscoll standing as an independent in the North East was welcomed by the Jewish Labour Movement’s Mike Katz.

He posted on social media: “Fantastic result for Kim McGuiness to become the first mayor of NE” adding Labour had taken the “principled (but not easy) decision” to select her over Driscoll.

Bury Council, Greater Manchester

In interviews Driscoll had said he had “no regrets” backing film maker Loach, who was expelled from Labour over his support for a proscribed group who downplayed antisemitism claims.

There was some sign of anger over Starmer’s stance on Gaza from Muslim voters in areas such as Oldham in which Labour lost control after the votes were counted.

But there had been dissatisfaction with the council there for several years, and Gaza was not the only factor in the backlash.

George Galloway’s Workers Party gained two seats

In Rochdale, George Galloway’s Workers Party gained two seats, but this pales into comparison with the 44 held by Labour on the council.

Asked about the backlash over Gaza in some areas, Starmer pointed to major Labour successes elsewhere including in Rushmoor, Hampshire, home to the British army, and areas such as Redditch, North Yorkshire and Thurrock.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said losses were “disappointing” but mayoral contests like Tees Valley, in which Ben Houchen triumphed were a “key battleground”.

On Saturday, the London mayoral contest is announced, with Tory challenger Susan Hall seeking to prevent Sadiq Khan from serving for a third term. By Friday evening it appeared the result will be closer than many polls were predicting.

Jewish News will be inside City Hall as the votes are counted and the declaration made.

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