OPINION: Mike Freer’s resignation is a warning sign for freedom of expression

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

OPINION: Mike Freer’s resignation is a warning sign for freedom of expression

An MP vocally supportive of the Jewish community has been hounded out of office. We should all be very concerned, writes Amanda Bowman

MP for Finchley and Golders Green, Mike Freer, addressing a reception for Jewish organisation Keshet.
MP for Finchley and Golders Green, Mike Freer, addressing a reception for Jewish organisation Keshet.

Parliament’s website compares the oath of allegiance all Members of Parliament swear, with a declaration of loyalty to the state. But what happens when the state fails to reciprocate this declaration? When a Member of Parliament feels so unsafe that they are unable to execute their duties effectively? A dystopian fear? 

Not a bit of it: that’s what has happened to Mike Freer. A tireless champion for Jewish and Israeli causes, he was as true a friend as any British Jew could hope to find as their parliamentary representative. Among his efforts to understand the Jewish community, Mike visited an abattoir to learn about shechita; was vice-chairman of the parliamentary group on British Jews and has been a recognisable face in shuls in his constituency – he even has his own kippah.

He was at the front of the line during the anti-Semitism demonstration against Jeremy Corbyn in 2018 and wrote a powerful comment in The Times on Parliament’s anti-Semitism debate in the same year.

In the piece, Mike said that the fact that the debate needed to be had at all was “utterly lamentable”. Those words, that sentiment, can be applied to Mike’s own decision to stand down in the face of an arson attack on his constituency office and clear threats to his own physical safety.

Amanda Bowman, Board of Deputies

The fact that a Member of Parliament has been hounded out of office as a result of his support for the Jewish community he represents, and the Jewish State at large should be a cause for grave concern for our society.

It is a microcosm of what is at stake here: real freedom of expression. And while some may seek to beef up security for our MPs, which, it seems, is sadly necessary after a series of horrific attacks against parliamentarians, perhaps what really is needed is a two pronged strategy. Firstly education: in schools, universities, and yes, in the media by learning the art of disagreement or as the Archbishop of Canterbury said at new year “disagreeing deeply and not destructively”. Because this art form has been lost; and it has been replaced instead by shocking acts of violence and intimidation. And secondly the need for robust policing, intelligence sharing and prosecuting of extremists and their supporters.

The danger is that democracy is being eroded. Mike’s decision has shown that. It is high time to find that art once more: our freedom of expression depends on it.

  • Amanda Bowman is vice president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews 
Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...


Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.


There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.


In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.


Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more: