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Labour's rupture with Jewish community laid bare at Muswell Hill synagogue hustings

PUBLISHED: 09:26 25 April 2018 | UPDATED: 10:57 25 April 2018

The husting panel at Muswell Hill synagogue. (left to right). Emma Whysall (Labour), Sam Hall (Green), Jonathan Black (Chairman), Neil O'Shea (Conservative), Viv Ross (Liberal Democrat)

The husting panel at Muswell Hill synagogue. (left to right). Emma Whysall (Labour), Sam Hall (Green), Jonathan Black (Chairman), Neil O'Shea (Conservative), Viv Ross (Liberal Democrat)

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“Is a vote for the Labour Party condoning antisemitism?”

Labour candidate for Muswell Hill Emma Whysall addresses the audience after being asked about antisemitism in the partyLabour candidate for Muswell Hill Emma Whysall addresses the audience after being asked about antisemitism in the party

A year ago, that question being reasonably asked at a hustings would have been nearly unthinkable. However at last night’s hustings at Muswell Hill synagogue, it was almost a question of when, not if the topic would be raised.

Earlier that day, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn had met Jewish community leaders over recent antisemitism cases, with community leaders leaving with a sense of dissatisfaction.

Sarah, a former Labour member, told the hustings she felt as though “she no longer belonged in the Labour Party.”

When she had told a Labour Party meeting how she and her brother had felt about antisemitism, they were told by one member, “you can’t ignore Israel.”

The husting panel at Muswell Hill synagogue. (left to right). Emma Whysall (Labour), Sam Hall (Green), Jonathan Black (Chairman), Neil O'Shea (Conservative), Viv Ross (Liberal Democrat)The husting panel at Muswell Hill synagogue. (left to right). Emma Whysall (Labour), Sam Hall (Green), Jonathan Black (Chairman), Neil O'Shea (Conservative), Viv Ross (Liberal Democrat)

She had also been told by another member at a Labour branch meeting that “Jews have a huge influence over the media.

“It is impossible for me to vote for Labour,” she said.

The anger at the meeting was palpable. Another voter said he had been canvassed by a Labour campaigner who had referred to departing Haringey councillor Joe Goldberg as “the enemy.”

He then said: “My question to the panel is: Is a vote for Labour condoning antisemitism?”

Labour candidate for Muswell Hill Emma Whysall apologised for Sarah’s experiences, and said the party needed to do more to stamp out the problem, and reassure the Jewish community.

“I can’t apologise enough for how you feel. I understand why people feel this way. The party has not moved fast enough to deal with the problem, and I will stand with you and fight this problem”

Housing was also a hot topic with the Haringey Development Vehicle becoming synonymous with Claire Kober’s council.

While both Labour, and the Liberal Democrats now back a wholly-owned company to buy and build houses for social rent, Conservative candidate Neil O’Shea said Momentum’s actions had lost Haringey the chance to build 6000 in their partnership with Lendlease.

Viv Ross, who is standing for the Liberal Democrats in Muswell Hill said his party had been the sole opposition to Labour, and would continue to press the party on housing.

“We have pushed for affordable housing for the last 25 years. We have campaigned for our schools, against HDV and to save the only council run care home.”

He also criticised the council for wasting money. “The rebranding of Haringey cost more than a million pounds. Why do that in the middle of austerity. £400,000 was spent backing a chicken shop in Tottenham.”

Meanwhile Green candidate for the ward, Sam Hall, also said the borough’s clean air targets weren’t ambitious enough. “The levels outside Muswell Hill School are double the World Health Organisation’s limits. As a father, with a daughter at the school, she is running around that playground breathing in that air.”

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